Yankees News: Lefty starter takes big rehab step, Judge runs the bases

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

Despite the New York Yankees‘ current predicament, manager Aaron Boone remains confident in the team’s ability to bounce back, particularly as they anticipate the return of several key players from injury.

Yankees: Aaron Judge’s Slow but Steady Progress

All eyes are on superstar slugger Aaron Judge, whose rehabilitation process is making gradual progress. In a promising sight, Judge was spotted running the bases before Wednesday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels, marking the final match of a three-game series.

Judge acknowledges that his return hinges on his ability to tolerate pain. While he still requires a few more weeks for rehab assignments to build momentum, the Yankees offense is eagerly awaiting his return for the much-needed support.

The team’s general manager, Brian Cashman, is expected to make impactful decisions as the trade deadline approaches, ideally enhancing the team’s performance while coinciding with Judge’s return.

However, with the Yankees currently sitting 2.5 games out of the third Wild Card spot, they urgently need to start securing wins before their situation becomes irrecoverable.

When Judge was sidelined, he had impressive stats: a .291 batting average, .404 on-base percentage, 19 home runs, 40 RBIs, a 16.4% walk rate, and a 187 wRC+. His MVP-caliber performance would have likely positioned him in competition with Shohei Ohtani, who threatens to break the home run record a year after Judge set it with 62 long balls.

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Nestor Cortés and Jonathan Loaisiga’s Expected Return

Beyond Judge, the Yankees are also eagerly anticipating the return of Nestor Cortés and Jonathan Loaisiga. Cortés, 28, has been rehabbing a shoulder injury and is projected to begin a rehab assignment on Sunday. Boone anticipates that Cortés will need to start three games before making a full comeback, thus fortifying the team’s rotation.

Cortés was sidelined with a 5.16 ERA, 8.95 strikeouts per nine innings, a 68.2% left-on-base rate, a 25.9% ground ball rate, and a 10.3% HR/FB ratio over 59.1 innings.

Cortes’ return should significantly strengthen the rotation alongside Carlos Rodon, who recently returned just before the All-Star break. Despite being beleaguered by injuries this season, the Yankees still possess one of the league’s strongest starting rotations on paper. This trend appears to be moving in the right direction, instilling hope for a successful recovery.