BOSTON — A year ago, Clay Holmes and his 4.30 ERA were a non-factor in the Pirates win over the Mets. Jose Trevino was down in Triple-A Round Rock rehabbing with a .230/.244/.309 slash line and three home runs. Nestor Cortes was just coming off his second spot start with the Yankees, but he was still not really even considered a real starter.
Sunday night, they were all first time All-Stars. Three of the most dramatic career turnarounds were announced as part of the six Yankees who will be on the American League team at Dodger Stadium along with Gerrit Cole, who was also named Sunday. They join Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton who were announced as starters on Friday night.
“Everybody knows my story. I think it’s pretty much out there, everybody knows all the struggles that I’ve had coming through the system; not being ranked, not being a prospect to not really being a good big leaguer. I guess I would say I stayed focused. I didn’t let any negative news or (what people) say, to determine my future,” Cortes said before Sunday night’s game against the Red Sox at Fenway. “So I kind of kept my head down and we’re here today. So I’m grateful for the opportunity.”
Cortes created his own opportunities. The undersized lefty who doesn’t light up a radar gun is 7-3 with a 2.74 ERA, despite some recent struggles.
For the Cuban-born Cortes was a 36th round draft pick who called pitching coach Matt Blake this winter to ask if he had a shot to make the team, he was thrilled to be taking his parents to Los Angeles for the game. They were among the few that believed in him along this journey.
Jose Trevino used this moment to thank those that believed in him, including the Rangers who dealt him to the Yankees this spring after acquiring Mitch Garver.
“It’s been a long, long journey. And I think I’ve said this before I’m out to prove the people that believed in me, right. I’m not trying to prove anyone wrong anymore,” Trevino said. “I’m just trying to prove everybody that believed in me right. And I’m very thankful for my time with the Rangers. I’m very thankful for the coaches over there. The staff, the front office, my teammates over there. It’s been awesome.”
Trevino’s brought a little more offense than the Yankees thought they would get from him. The 29-year old is slashing .255/.303/.438 with a .741 OPS and seven home runs—the total he combined for in 2021 and 2020.
Trevino has embraced his new team and said Sunday it would be cool to catch Cortes or Holmes or Cole in the game. Trevino has been crucial to the Yankees’ pitchers success this season.
Holmes, who has blossomed with his sinker since being traded to the Yankees last year, is now the Yankees closer. He has converted 16 of 18 saves and has a 0.46 ERA, the lowest among big league relievers. The difference between Pittsburgh and the Bronx has been a slight arm angle tweak and more belief in his sinker.
“You always want to be your best and you believe that you can be the best, even when it doesn’t always seem that way. But it just felt far away at times,” Holmes said. ” But you are just always taking it one day at a time and just trying to get a little better and just keep learning inch by inch. I feel like I’ve just come a long way. It’s definitely just special to be able to enjoy this moment, especially with teammates and family.”
It’s the fifth time Cole is going to the All-Star Game and it’s still exciting for him, but the veteran righthander seemed just as excited to watch the first-timers like Holmes, Cortes and Trevino go.
“The story keeps getting better,” Cole said of Cortes and he credited Trevino with helping himself and the pitching staff be so dominant this season. It’s a little more personal for Cole with Holmes, who he has known since they were roommates in Pirates Instructional camp years ago.
“Full circle,” Cole said. “First we’re roommates and now we’re going to an all star game together. Pretty incredible. It’s pretty incredible, really and (he’s)obviously another person that very much deserves it and very much should be on that stage. showcasing his unique talent for everybody to see so I’m sure he’s super excited.”
Michael King was the one obvious snub on the Yankees, but Cole and Aaron Boone that he will be picked as a replacement.
“I think Michael certainly is very much deserving as well,” Cole said.