Yankees gearing up to demote a starting pitcher

nestor cortes, yankees
May 13, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Nestor Cortes (65) exits the game against the Tampa Bay Rays during the fifth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees face a critical decision this Friday when they bring back left-handed pitcher Nestor Cortés from the injured list. Cortés has been on the mend from a shoulder injury sustained earlier in the year, which significantly impacted his performance.

The 28-year-old starter was in excellent form during the 2022 season, notching a career-high 158.1 innings pitched, a 2.44 ERA, 3.63 xFIP, 9.27 strikeouts per nine, an 82.8% left-on-base rate, and a 33.5% ground ball rate. However, at the start of the 2023 season, Cortés recorded a 5.16 ERA, 5.05 xFIP, 8.95 strikeouts per nine, a 68.2% left-on-base rate, and a 25.9% ground ball rate over 59.1 innings.

Regrettably, Cortés walked the most batters he’s seen since 2020 and allowed significantly more home runs. The expectation is that his full recovery will help him shake off these setbacks and regain his starting rotation position.

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The Yankees’ Tough Decision

Given this situation, the Yankees now face a tough choice between Domingo German, Luis Severino, and Clarke Schmidt.

German, 30, currently holds a 4.77 ERA, 9.55 strikeouts per nine, and a career-low 63.7% left-on-base rate over 103.2 innings. Despite throwing a Perfect Game this season, German’s performance has been erratic, making him more of a liability than an asset. His ERA figures for June and July were 5.67 and 5.64, respectively, and he conceded six earned runs and three home runs over six hits against the Mets recently.

Judging by the current momentum, German could be moved to the Yankees’ bullpen. However, a compelling case can be made for Severino to take this place.

Luis Severino’s Struggles With the Yankees

Severino, in a contract year, is presently recording a 6.46 ERA, 7.45 strikeouts per nine, a 68.1% left-on-base rate, and a career-high 18.4% HR/FB ratio over 54.1 innings. Unfortunately, Severino hasn’t been able to demonstrate the necessary pitch break to beat hitters. His average velocity stands at a respectable 96.7 mph, but his slider isn’t generating the right movement, and his poor location has led to consistently underwhelming outings.

Making a Case for Clarke Schmidt

Finally, we turn our attention to Clarke Schmidt, the 27-year-old who has shown significant improvements lately and is most likely to secure his spot in the rotation.

Over 99.2 innings this year, Schmidt has a 4.33 ERA, 8.76 strikeouts per nine, a 71.8% left-on-base rate, and a 42.8% ground ball rate. He clocked a 3.04 ERA in June, although his ERA increased slightly to 4.15 in July. Based on these figures, Schmidt outperforms both German and Severino, making it an easy decision for manager Aaron Boone.