Right now, the New York Yankees have one mission: accumulate as many wins as they can. They are in the middle of an intense push for the playoffs, fighting with the Toronto Blue Jays and the Boston Red Sox for two spots, with other teams lurking.
Fortunately, left-hander Nestor Cortes Jr. was there to provide his best start of the season on Wednesday, as the Yankees held on to escape with a narrow 4-3 victory in the late innings.
Cortes Jr was majestic all night long: over 6.1 innings, he allowed only one run, three hits, and two walks, striking out a career-high 11 hitters in the Orioles’ lineup. Cortes has been a fantastic rescue project for Yankees’ pitching coach Matt Blake and has been a consistent source of quality innings all season long.
In 79.2 innings with the Yankees in 2021, Cortes Jr. has a brilliant 2.60 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP, with 87 punchouts in his line.
The Yankees love his style
The left-hander said after the game that his command was the primary weapon in his outing, as it was “on point.” Command is perhaps more important than raw stuff, and the Yankees have made this clear to Cortes Jr. The team encourages him to change speeds, deliveries, angles, and use every trick in the back to keep batters off balance. Control and command are a vital part of this approach.
“I felt like my command was on point. I didn’t miss too much with my fastball, which really got me going. I also commanded the cutter well,” the pitcher said to SNY after the game, which took the Yankees to an 82-64 record, maintaining the three-way tie with the Blue Jays and Red Sox.
He also mentioned that working quickly has also helped him. “(The) defense stays alert when the pitcher works quick. I like to keep it going, keep the momentum,” he stated.
It’s part of his style, one that has brought him considerable success in 2021.