Yankees’ left-handed starter looks brilliant in early Spring Training action

MLB: New York Yankees-Workouts
Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

Nestor Cortes could make a huge difference for the New York Yankees, and he’s come into camp looking excellent thus far. Yesterday, he was tasked with facing three of the most feared hitters in the Yankees’ lineup, including new addition Juan Soto, who dominated their three matchups. Mixing in all of his pitches and looking as healthy as he was back in 2022, the left-hander is hoping to continue building that momentum as Spring Training continues. With rumors that the team could potentially add another starter, the pressure is on for starters to leave a strong impression on the Yankees.

The offseason has seemed to serve the former All-Star well as Nestor Cortes looks to maintain a healthy shoulder and rebound after an ugly year in 2023.

Nestor Cortes Impressing In Yankees’ Live Bullpens

MLB: New York Yankees-Workouts
Feb 16, 2024; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees catcher Nestor Cortes (65) participates in spring training workouts at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

With all of the concerns that the New York Yankees have about the health of their rotation, a strong season from Nestor Cortes can change the outlook of this rotation for the better. It wasn’t too long ago that he led the Yankees in ERA (2.44) and was named to his first-ever All-Star team, but injuries took their toll on him in 2023. Things started out rough when he was shut down due to a lower-body injury that would knock him out of the World Baseball Classic, shortening his ramp-up for the regular season.

Things looked fine when he made his first start of the season at home against the Philadelphia Phillies, and while the command was spotty, he still posted a 3.49 ERA through his first five starts. Everything would fall apart from there, and he would even end the season on the injured list with a shoulder injury. That being said, in his early bullpen sessions, the Hialeah native has looked brilliant, even striking out Juan Soto three times with some nasty pitches. Everything looks good from a health and velocity standpoint, which Andy Martino of SNY reported on earlier in the week.

“Nestor Cortes reported normal velocity in his side session that he threw earlier this week, he said he was at 90-93…his shoulder and rotator cuff feel completely healthy.”

Andy Martino
MLB: New York Yankees-Workouts
Feb 16, 2024; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees catcher Nestor Cortes (65) participates in spring training workouts at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

READ MORE: Yankees’ rebound candidate gets encouraging updates early in Spring Training

In regards to striking out Juan Soto three times, Nestor Cortes certainly didn’t bask in the accomplishment, instead pointing out the rust that the recently acquired superstar is likely shaking off:

“It’s probably the first live he’s seen since last season. Nothing to it.”

Nestor Cortes
MLB: New York Yankees-Workouts
Feb 19, 2024; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees left fielder Juan Soto (22) gives a press conference during spring training workouts at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

If only social media could hold the same kind of nuance and perspective in regards to those three strikeouts…oh well!

Back to baseball here, the one thing that matters throughout Spring Training is health, if the Yankees can keep their squad mostly intact, they’ll be in a much better spot than they were in last season. Frankie Montas, Carlos Rodon, and Luis Severino were all on the IL before Opening Day, resulting in Jhony Brito making the third start of the season for the Yankees. Ideally, the Yankees have at least four of their starters make it into April, but that remains to be seen.

The early signs are positive for the Bronx Bombers, and if Nestor Cortes can continue turning in strong outings all Spring, there will be plenty of excitement about what he can do in 2024.

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