Yankees get back star pitcher but lose key bullpen arm for a few days

Alexander Wilson
nestor cortes, yankees

The New York Yankees currently host a four-game winning streak, increasing their odds of securing the top spot in the AL East, despite losing significant ground over the past few weeks.

The Tampa Bay Rays still remain five games behind, but the Yankees are starting to get back on a roll, especially after Gleyber Torres, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Oswald Peraza stood out during Wednesday’s doubleheader.

Pitching reinforcements:

However, the Yankees are preparing to return their best starting pitcher this year, Nestor Cortes. Cortes hasn’t made an appearance since August 21 against the Toronto Blue Jays but surprisingly hit the injured list with a groin issue. Some believe that his IL stint was a phantom situation, looking to mitigate innings and fatigue down the stretch.

Cortes coming off the injured list is just one more player getting healthy, but the Yankees are still waiting patiently on key members of the team like Harrison Bader, Luis Severino, and Anthony Rizzo to make a return.

Nestor has arguably been the team’s ace this season, featuring a 2.68 ERA over 131 innings pitched. He’s earned 9.14 strikeouts per nine, an 83.3% left on-base rate, and a 32.7% ground ball rate. He also features a career-best 9.5% HR/FB ratio, giving up 1.10 home runs per nine innings.

Altogether, Cortes has earned his way into the starting rotation during the playoffs, which will likely consist of Gerrit Cole and Frankie Montas.

Allowing Cortes the next month to ramp up before the postseason is exactly what the Yankees had in mind, and since he’s back to 100% health, expect to see him featuring within the next few days.

Yankees lose Lou Trivino for a few games:

Oddly, the Yankees hadn’t used new bullpen acquisition Lou Trivino since last Wednesday due to back spasms. Trivino has been solid for the Bombers after struggling with the Oakland Athletics prior to the trade deadline deal.

With Oakland, he hosted a 6.47 ERA over 32 innings, but with the Yankees, he’s earned a 0.68 ERA over 13.1 innings.

“He just had some back stuff going on when he came in (Wednesday) morning,” Boone said after Game 2 of the doubleheader on Wednesday. “This is something that he tends to get once or twice a year, just a little spasm thing.”

Trivino is now a trusted member of the team’s bullpen, and manager Aaron Boone hasn’t refrained from utilizing him in high-leverage situations. In fact, ever since joining the Bombers, Trivino has begun utilizing his slider and sinker more frequently, also incorporating his cutter.

His slider increased by 4% usage and his sinker by 5%. In the month of August, opposing batters hit .125 against his sinker and .182 against his slider. His slider also generated a 42.9% whiff rate and 25% put-away right.

The Yankees have been battling their way through the bullpen lately, but Trivino should return within the next few days after his back issue subsides.