The Yankees’ rotation is so good the fans are ripping apart one of their best options

MLB: New York Yankees at San Francisco Giants
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It’s a testament to the depth of the New York Yankees‘ pitching staff that Nestor Cortes might be considered for a bullpen role if Gerrit Cole and Clarke Schmidt were healthy. This potential shift speaks volumes about the team’s abundance of talent rather than a reflection on Cortes’ performance.

Nestor Cortes: A Valuable Asset in the Yankees’ Rotation

Throughout the season, Cortes has maintained a solid 3.59 ERA over 87.2 innings—the most on the team—demonstrating efficiency and resilience despite occasional fluctuations in his game. Recently, he pitched seven innings against the Kansas City Royals, allowing two runs on 88 pitches, 59 of which were strikes, proving he could hold his own and give the Yankees a chance to win.

MLB: Spring Training-Detroit Tigers at New York Yankees
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Analyzing Cortes’ Role and Pitch Arsenal

Cortes could be the ace of many other MLB teams, but in a Yankees rotation that boasts four pitchers with ERAs under 3.00, he’s perceived as one of the weaker links.

This perception is more a luxury than a liability—it highlights the high standards within the Yankees’ roster. His current arsenal includes a four-seam fastball, cutter, sweeper, and changeup. This season, the usage of his four-seamer has decreased from 52.1% to 47.9%, with opposing batters hitting .252 against it. His cutter and sweeper have posed challenges, with batters hitting .239 and .278 against them, respectively, indicating that the sweeper might be less effective than hoped.

Cortes compensates for his lack of velocity with creativity on the mound, employing varied arm slots and maneuvers to confuse hitters. This approach helps him create unpredictability, although it can backfire when his pitches lack movement or precision.

As Cole nears his return, the Yankees continue to derive significant value from Cortes, who is currently earning $3.95 million and has two more years of arbitration eligibility before he can become a free agent in 2026. Reflecting on the recent past when the Yankees’ rotation struggled significantly, having Cortes as their fifth starter should be viewed not just with relief but with a genuine appreciation for the depth and quality he adds to the team.

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