Yankees see the All-Star version of their funky lefty starter

MLB: Miami Marlins at New York Yankees
Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

When the Yankees needed funky lefty starter Nestor Cortes to step up and have a dominant game, he put together a masterpiece against the Miami Marlins on Monday night.

With the bullpen torn to shreds and the Yankees desperately needing a multi-inning start, Cortes answered the call after two disappointing outings to start the 2024 season. In his first two games, Cortes pitched 10 innings, giving up 13 hits and seven earned runs.

However, he pitched eight innings against Miami, giving up only two hits and striking out six batters. He enjoyed a 100% left-on-base rate and 87 mph average exit velocity, 3 mph down from his last start against the Arizona Diamondbacks — which is a good thing!

The Yankees Got The Best of Nestor Cortes on Monday

On the season, Cortes hosts a 3.50 ERA, but the Yankees finally saw the All-Star version of him following a shoulder injury that ended his 2023 season prematurely.

Cortes tossed 63.1 innings last season, collecting a 4.97 ERA before the Yankees eventually shut him down. Fortunately, he spent the winter working in Tampa with the Yankees support staff, finally ridding himself of the shoulder injury that was still bothering him heading into December.

Diving Into His Game Against Miami

Let’s take a look at his outing against Miami in more detail. Over 102 pitches, Cortes tossed his cutter 31 times, including 42 four-seam fastballs, 11 change-ups, and 15 sweepers, and he tossed in a few sinkers now and again. His fastball topped out at 92.6 mph, and his sweeper reached a low of 70.8 mph, so he worked on his deception and pitch movement.

Cortes loves to dabble with different arm slots, keeping opposing pitchers on their toes, throwing a few sinkers from a lower slot that dipped out of the zone and caught batters by surprise. He peppered the strike zone with four-seam fastballs and used his change-ups to deceive the batter at the bottom of the strike zone — they would come in looking like fastballs and dip at the last second.

This was the pitcher the Yankees enjoyed back in 2022, and the team desperately needs him to step up in Gerrit Cole’s absence. Fortunately, Cole is playing catch without any problems, suggesting that he is trending in the right direction toward his hopeful return in early June.

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