Yankees’ lefty starter demands better performance in 2024

nestor cortes, yankees
Apr 20, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Nestor Cortes (65) pitches against the Los Angeles Angels during the fifth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

New York Yankees LHP Nestor Cortes dreads the fact that the franchise missed the playoffs for the first time since 2016 and is looking forward to an injury-free 2024 MLB season for himself and his teammates in hopes of a bounce-back year.

Injuries and Underperformance Killed the Yankees’ Playoff Chances

Randy Miller of NJ.com got to sit down with Cortes and go through his reflection on the Yankees’ 82-80 campaign. Cortes shed light on himself and his teammates being dissatisfied with the product they put out on the field:

“There are probably a lot of guys here that felt like they underperformed and weren’t their usual self, including myself. Obviously, the injury for me was a big blow.”

Cortes added that injuries to OF Aaron Judge and 1B Anthony Rizzo were devastating blows to the team and that once all their troops are healthy in 2024, they can return to competitive play.

It goes without saying the impact that Judge’s absence left on the team, but Rizzo missing 63 games due to post-concussion syndrome prevented him from continuing his strong All-Star play from the year prior.

All in all, New York had 38 placements on the IL, and their 2,158 days lost was the third-most among all teams. They couldn’t catch a break and absences cost them games that they wish they could’ve got back down the stretch of the year.

Can Cortes and the Yankees Replicate and Exceed a Strong 2022 Outing?

A dazzling 2022 All-Star campaign saw Cortes go 12-4 with a 2.44 ERA and his first career shutout against the Boston Red Sox on Sept. 25 of that year. However, his ERA ballooned up to 4.97 in 2023 and he never got a chance to hit his stride due to a strained left rotator cuff that placed him on the IL twice, in June and again in August.

When comparing the Yankees’ last two seasons, the pitching staff only had one starter post an ERA above 4.00 in 2022. Gerrit Cole was one of only two starters (including Randy Vasquez, min five starts) to play up to standard and remain under that marker in 2023 along with 222 SO and an MLB-leading 7.5 WAR.

New York failed to drive in runs all season. Unlike 2022 where four batters in the rotation drove in 75 or more runs, Judge was the only Yankee to do so despite missing 56 games.

Cortes did express his faith that the organization will do their best to put forth a better product in 2024 and smart offseason acquisitions will only help a rotation that will recuperate this winter in time for Spring Training.

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