Yankees’ Nestor Cortes picks up injury, drops out of World Baseball Classic

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Oct 1, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Nestor Cortes (65) pitches in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees can’t afford any more injuries to their starting rotation, which is exactly what happened this week when lefty maestro Nestor Cortes dropped out of the World Baseball Classic due to an injury.

The Bombers have already lost Frankie Montas to shoulder inflammation for the first month of the regular season, so Cortes missing any time would put them in a bit of a pickle, forcing them to rely on players like Domingo German and Clarke Schmidt.

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The Yankees can’t afford to lose any more pitchers:

While German and Schmidt can supplement any losses in the meantime, Cortes is one of the team’s more consistent players and is coming off an All-Star-caliber season. At 28 years old, Cortes is looking to push the needle further in 2023, recording a career-high 158.1 innings pitched last year, hosting a 2.44 ERA, 3.63 xFIP, 9.27 strikeouts per nine, and an 82.8% left-on-base rate.

Unfortunately, he picked up a hamstring injury with just a week and a half until spring training commences. This is obviously a bad time for him to sustain any issues, immediately pulling him from the WBC, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.

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With Cortes bowing out, only Gleyber Torres, Jonathan Loáisiga, and Kyle Higashioka remain as contributors. Ensuring that Cortes rehabilitates efficiently and is ready for the regular season suddenly becomes a priority for the Yankees, who still have over a month until any meaningful baseball is underway.

However, this may disrupt Cortes and his throwing program ahead of the regular season, as starters normally need plenty of time to warm up their arms before a grueling 162-game schedule. Nestor started 28 games last season and ran out of gas in the playoffs, so workload management will undoubtedly be a part of the team’s strategy to mitigate fatigue to preserve his best stuff.

Nonetheless, having already sustained injuries to two primary starters, the Yankees must be concerned with the regular season still weeks away.