New York Yankees: Nestor Cortes Jr. could get a Major League start

The two-game postponements have really shaken up the New York Yankees pitching rotation. On Thursday, due to an awful weather forecast, the game was postponed, but it didn’t do more than a sprinkle. Then, last night after one postponement, the Yankees tried to get a game in with an even worse forecast. Finally, they had to postpone the game after an hour and a half delay.

Now Jordan Montgomery will start today’s 1:05 pm game, and Yankee ace Gerrit Cole will be on the mound for one of the day-night doubleheaders on Sunday. According to manager Aaron Boone, the other game might be started by Nestor Cortes Jr., who has been lights out this season as a reliever. If he gets the night game, it will be the first time he has started a nationally televised game. Cortes has been a great surprise for the Yankees this season. In seven games of relief, he has a 1.02 ERA. In 17.2 innings, he has struck out 25 hitters and allowed only 2 earned runs. Boone also said Michael King could get the start but would not commit to either.

During the Winter Meetings this past December, the only move the Yankees made was to sign Cortes Jr. It was a special day for Nestor Cortes Jr.; it was his 26th birthday. Cortes Jr. is a lefty reliever that has been with the Yankees twice before. If he gets one of the starts on Sunday, it will be his third Major League start in his career. He has also pitched for the Baltimore Orioles and the Seattle Mariners between Yankee’s stints.

The Yankees drafted Cortez out of high school in the 2013 draft. He signed and made his professional debut with The Gulf Coast Yankees of the Rookie League. In 2014, he returned going 1–2 with a 2.27 ERA in 11 games (two starts). Cortés spent 2015 with the Pulaski Yankees, where he compiled a 6–3 record with a 2.26 ERA in 12 games (ten starts). In 2016, he pitched for the Charleston River Dogs. 2016 was a busy year for Cortez Jr. as he worked his way up the Yankee Minor League system, first with the Class A Tampa team, then the Trenton Thunder, and ended up at the AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre Rail Riders.

With the Rail Riders in 2016, he was 7–4 with a 2.06 ERA in 30 games (13 starts).  After the 2017 season, the New York Yankee bullpen was strongest in all of baseball. That being the case, they did not protect Cortes Jr. from the 2017 rule 5 draft. The Baltimore Orioles took advantage of that and picked him up from the Yankees. After pitching for the Orioles in the minor, they promoted him to the majors. He made his Major League debut on March 31, 2018. That year he pitched only 4.2 innings with an ERA of 7.71.

Nestor Cortes Jr.’s second stint with the New York Yankees. On April 13, 2018, he was returned to the New York Yankees. He played in one game for the Trenton Thunder before returning to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, combining for a 6–6 record and a 3.68 ERA in 24 games. Before the 2019 season, the Yankees invited Nestor to spring training with the big club at George M Steinbrenner Field; he pitched well but did not make the team and started the 2019 season back in Scranton.