Good news and bad news as Yankees ride Nestor Cortes to victory in series win over Chicago

nestor cortes jr., yankees

The New York Yankees secured a series win against the Chicago White Sox on Sunday afternoon by a score of 5-1.

The Yankees featured Nestor Cortes on the mound, who has been their best starting pitcher over the first 34 games of the regular season. After losing against Chicago on Saturday night, the Bombers bounced back with a strong pitching performance, getting right back on track as the best team in baseball.

Good news and bad news as Yankees take series Vs Chicago:

Nestor Cortes was absolutely phenomenal in the series finale against Chicago on Sunday afternoon, pitching 8.0 innings, allowing three hits, one earned run, and striking out seven batters. He tossed 99 total pitches, 69 of them for strikes. Over the past two games combined, Cortes struck out 18 batters over 15.1 innings, coining himself the team’s best pitcher this season.

Nestor currently features a 1.35 ERA, providing relief pitcher Clay Holmes with an easy opportunity to close the game, tossing 15 pitches in the 9th inning. Offensively, the Bombers only tallied two hits on the afternoon but managed five runs. In the second inning, Chicago starter Michael Kopech walked Aaron Hicks in for the first run and then walked DJ LeMahieu for the second run.

The Yankees showcase extremely patient hitting but struggled for the second consecutive game to pick up hits. If not for a Joey Gallo two-run blast in the 9th inning, the Yankees might’ve had a bit more trouble closing the game.

Speaking of Gallo, he has been an absolute monster at the plate recently, hitting .240 in the month of May with two homers and six hits. He’s also picked up six walks and struck out just seven times over 25 at-bats.

At this point in the season, the Yankees are simply struggling with offensive consistency. Their pitching has been tremendous, but they need the bottom of the order to pick up the slack. They’ve been mostly quiet over 36 games.

Do the New York Yankees have a new ‘ace’ in town?

nestor cortes, yankees

The New York Yankees might be spending $324 million over nine years for Gerrit Cole, but that doesn’t automatically make him the ace. Of course, that money suggests he should be performing like one, and he has stepped up his game tremendously after a tough start to the 2022 season, but there’s another starter making waves in the Bronx.

27-year-old pitcher with Cuban origins, Nestor Cortes, has become the next best thing for the Yankees, posting a 1.41 ERA over 32 innings to start the year. Over six games, Cortes hosts 11.81 strikeouts per nine, 0.56 home runs per nine, 88.7% left on base rate, and 36.6% ground ball rate.

Whatever Cortes is doing, teams have been completely lost trying to figure out his game. In fact, against the Texas Rangers on Monday afternoon, Cortes threw a no-hitter entering the 8th inning, striking out 11 batters over 103 pitches.

The Yankees are seeing the best of their young starter:

After starting his career in Baltimore back in 2018, Cortes endured a rocky road trying to find an established home. He joined the Yankees in 2019, recording a 5.67 ERA over 66.2 innings in a relief role. However, after a short stint with the Seattle Mariners, Cortes made his way back to New York, where he earned a 2.90 ERA last year over 93 innings, pitching in 22 games.

Now, Cortes is looking like a bonafide ace with his new approach. Looking at his pitch metrics, Cortes doesn’t display vast differences in his usage compared to 2021, despite an increase in his slider. He’s throwing his slider at 40.3% this year, up 17%. His fastball sits at 42%, curveball at 13.7%, and change-up at 4.0%. However, he’s mixed in a cutter recently, a pitch that tantalized Texas on Monday.

What makes Cortes super unique is his arm slot and wind-up. He’s always changing his fundamentals to keep batters off balance. They don’t know if it’s going to be a quick release or a long-drawn-out pitch with break. Every now and then, Cortes will throw a blazing fastball that catches hitters staring into the abyss.

His approach is vastly different compared to Gerrit Cole, who relies heavily on his fastball and consistent technique. This year, Cole has also incorporated a cutter into his repertoire of pitches but continues to lean heavily on his four-seam fastball at 49%. Cole has far more velocity than Cortes, but that doesn’t make him more effective necessarily.

The incredible turnaround that Nestor has curated the past two years has been a godsend for the Yankees. Without him, they would have a major hole in the starting rotation. At this point, he’s definitely the “People’s Ace,” but he’s pushing hard to have an even better season than the $324 million man.

Good news and bad news as Yankees barely edge out win over Texas

nestor cortes, yankees

The New York Yankees faced off against the Texas Rangers in a make-up game from May 7 on Monday afternoon at 1:05 PM. After Gerrit Cole and Jordan Montgomery got the starts in Sunday’s doubleheader, Nestor Cortes toed the slab in the series finale before the Bombers host the Toronto Blue Jays in a two-game series starting Tuesday.

Cortes enjoyed a phenomenal performance, helping blank the Blue Jays as the Yankees squeaked by 1–0.

Good news and bad news for the New York Yankees:

Cortes took the game into the 8th inning without allowing a single hit against the Rangers. Over 103 pitches, Cortes struck out 11 batters and walked four, lowering his ERA to 1.41. The bullpen took over from there, easily finishing the game, aside from a tricky situation with the Rangers getting a runner into scoring position in the bottom of the 9th. Aroldis Chapman luckily managed to work his way out of trouble.

Overall, the pitching was excellent for the Bombers, having enjoyed three consecutive games of elite pitching but poor offensive production.

The Yankees posted five hits and four walks on the afternoon, striking out nine times. Despite multiple opportunities to drive in runners in scoring position, including a bases-loaded situation in the 5th inning, the Yanks were unable to take advantage and get back to their slugging ways. Clearly, missing two consecutive games hurt their offensive flow since they were completely dominating during their 11-game winning streak.

Thanks to the pitching, the Yankees host the most wins in baseball at 20–8, sitting atop the AL East by 2.5 games and tied with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in baseball.

Nonetheless, Luis Severino will get to start against Yusei Kikuchi on Tuesday at 7:05 PM. The Yankees will have to turn around their offensive luck against a dangerous Toronto team that just lost two consecutive games did the Cleaveland Guardians.

Good news and bad news after Yankees snap 11-game win steak against Blue Jays

nestor cortes, yankees

On Wednesday evening, the New York Yankees faced off against the Toronto Blue Jays, dropping their first game in 11 contests. Toronto held the Bombers to just one run, courtesy of Yusei Kikuchi, who allowed three hits and one run over 6.0 innings.

The Yankees only curated four hits of offensive production, and their lone run was courtesy of a Joey Gallo solo shot in the third inning, which traveled 417 feet.

It was only a matter of time before the Yankees’ offense failed to produce, but they are still in great shape, having won 11 of their last 12 games and currently sitting No. 1 in the AL East and at the top of the food chain in Major League Baseball.

Good news and bad news for the Yankees:

The good news from the loss is hard to come by, aside from Gallo making a return from injury. Gallo suffered a left groin issue several days ago, missing a few games. However, he produced the only run for the Yankees in the loss, also tallying a walk in the process. The only other players to record hits were DJ LeMahieu, Giancarlo Stanton, Josh Donaldson, and Kyle Higashioka.

Unfortunately, it seemed to be an off game for the Yankees, but the home-plate umpire could’ve been a bit more consistent, calling several extremely low pitches strikes on Aaron Judge. Manager Aaron Boone threw a fit over the poor strike calls. Unfortunately, Judge struck out three times.

“We’re playing for a lot,” Boone said. “I just felt like there were a couple there in situations that didn’t go our way.”

As for the pitching, Nestor Cortes lasted 4.0 innings, giving up four hits and two runs. He also allowed four walks, striking out three batters. This was arguably Cortes’s worst performance of the year, but he is granted a pass considering how dominant he’s been. Cortes still features the best ERA on the team at 1.82.

Relief pitcher Michael King looked phenomenal, striking out three batters and not allowing a single hit over three innings. For the most part, the pitching was more than adequate in the loss, the offense just couldn’t get going. In the 9th inning, the Yankees had the bases-loaded with Isiah Kiner-Falefa at the plate, but he grounded out to 3rd base.

The Yankees will enjoy a day off on Thursday before taking on the Texas Rangers in a three-game series.

Ranking the Yankees’ starting pitchers 16 games into the regular season

nestor cortes jr., yankees

The Yankees are coming off a series sweep against the Cleveland Guardians on Sunday, thanks to a stellar performance from Gerrit Cole after starting the regular season on a bad note. The Bombers now sit with a 10–6 record, boasting phenomenal pitching but inconsistent offensive play.

For the first time all season, the Yankees scored seven or more runs, thanks to a poor pitching performance from Aaron Civale, who gave up six runs over just three innings.

The Yankees have had trouble at times driving in runners in scoring position, but their pitching has picked up the slack tremendously. Cole recently called them out, indicating the need for support to help transfer the game over the bullpen.

“From a starting pitcher’s perspective, we want to keep going as long as we can,” Cole said. “We want to try to push our pitch count and our games as deep as we can go to keep [the relievers] as fresh as we can so they can continue to perform at their level. At the same time, from a team aspect, I think it’s important to get on the board early so that we can turn a lead over to those guys.”

Ranking the Yankees’ starting pitchers 16 games into the regular season:

1.) Nestor Cortes

The Bombers started the year with Nestor Cortes as their No. 5 starter of the rotation, but he has been far and away their most lethal arm. Cortes hosts a 1.15 ERA over just three games, a sample size of 15.2 innings. He’s only given up seven hits, whereas the other four starters have given up at least 10 hits. In fact, he gave up his first two runs of the entire season on Saturday after Josh Naylor belted a two-run shot in the 6th inning.

Cortes has been extremely effective at just 27 years old, and the Yankees might have themselves a long-term starter if he continues to play at this level.

So far this season, Cortes is allowing an 86.5 exit velocity and just a 3.6% barrel rate, two impressive numbers. His 1.29 SIERA and 1.46 xFIP are the best on the team. Interestingly, he’s changed his pitch usage a bit, utilizing his fastball and slider predominantly, seeing decreases with his curveball and change-up.

2.) Luis Severino

Luis Severino is the next on the list, who features a 2.08 ERA over 13 innings. Severino has given up three runs, most of which came in his first start against the Boston Red Sox.

Severino currently hosts a 90.9% left on base rate and 54.1% ground ball rate, two phenomenal numbers. In terms of velocity, he’s averaging out at 97.2 with his fastball, up significantly compared to a small sample sizes over the past two seasons. Severino is also utilizing a cutter this season, throwing it 16.1% of the time. He’s dipped into his slider usage, throwing it just 7.2% and re-allocating it significantly. With great velocity on his fastball and a solid repertoire of pitches, Severino is quickly regaining his 2018 form.

3.) Gerrit Cole

After three questionable outings for Gerrit Cole, he finally enjoyed his best performance of the season on Sunday in a win over Cleveland. Cole lasted 6.2 innings, giving up four hits and striking out nine batters. He tossed 92 pitches, lowering his ERA to 4.00. Cole was dotting the corners and utilizing a lethal slider to bait batters. He also began incorporating a cutter into the mix, something he hasn’t used since college. There’s no downward trend for his velocity, so he simply wasn’t getting the location he was looking for.

Thankfully, Cole seems to be back on track, and the starting rotation for the Yankees appears above average over the first three weeks of the campaign.

4.) Jordan Montgomery

Fourth on the list is Jordan Montgomery, who hosts a 2.51 ERA over 14.1 innings. Montgomery has given up 10 hits, and four earned runs but has otherwise looked great this season. Montgomery allowed one earned run over six innings in his most recent outing, striking out five batters. In fact, he’s pitched 11 innings over his last two games, giving up six hits and just one run, striking out seven batters combined.

If Montgomery continues to pitch at this level, he will be a dangerous mid-rotation arm for the Bombers.

5.) Jameson Taillon

It is great news that the last ranked pitcher in the Yankee starting rotation hosts a 3.07 ERA over 14.2 innings. Jameson Taillon has given up 15 hits and five earned runs, including three homers in that sample size. He’s been the worst of the bunch but has still been very effective for the most part.

Coming off of a 2021 season where he suffered several injuries, including torn ligaments in his ankle, Taillon has gotten off to a solid start. With his velocity hovering around 94.1 mph regarding his fastball, Taillon seems to be on par with his career averages. His pitch usage seems rather consistent compared to the past, so he hasn’t done anything significant to change up his game. The biggest factor for Taillon is simply health and building momentum.

Do the New York Yankees have a new ace in town?

nestor cortes, yankees

The New York Yankees may have signed Gerrit Cole to a nine-year, $324 million contract, but he hasn’t lived up to his potential to start the 2022 season. Over three games, Cole features a 6.35 ERA, 33.3% ground-ball rate and 9.53 strikeouts per 9. His walk rate has ballooned to 5.56 per 9, and is giving up 2.38 home runs in that same timeframe.

Despite his poor start, the Yankees are so confident that Gerrit will bounce back and recover his ace status, but the rotation has a climbing member who could be considered their top gun at this point in time.

Nestor Cortes is just 27 years old and enjoying his second stint with the Yankees after taking a quick detour to the Seattle Mariners in 2020. During his first leg with the Bombers in 2019, Cortes recorded a 5.67 ERA over 66.2 innings, but his 2.90 ERA, last year over 93 innings, showcased what he’s capable of accomplishing.

This season, Cortes hosts a team-best 1.15 ERA, 14.36 strikeouts per 9, 93% left on base rate, and is allowing less than one homer per 9 innings. Against the Cleaveland Guardians on Saturday, Cortes dominated until the 6th inning, giving up a two-run homer to Josh Naylor. Aside from that one wayward pitch, Cortes looks like the best starter on the roster, striking out eight batters and allowing just one hit over 91 pitches tossed. He also displayed unparalleled effort, making a diving effort to tag 1st base as Steven Kwan raced him down the base path.

Recording his highest pitch count of the year, Cortes is in great form. A few detailed metrics that stand out include his barrel percentage, which is at just 3.6%, and 86.5 exit velocity compared to 89 last year. Hosting a 1.29 SIERA and 1.46 xFIP, Nestor isn’t just playing great, he has taken his game to another level to open the year.

Looking at his specific pitch usage, he’s throwing his fastball 41.8% of the time at 90.6 mph. He’s increased his slider usage to 38.6% compared to 23.4% last year. Cortes has leaned more on his slider and fastball than change-up and curveball, which has proven to be an effective strategy.

The opening day starter normally indicates the team’s ace, but Cortes has been far and away the Yankees’ best pitcher and continues to impress. An interesting question to ask is, would you rather have Cortes featuring in a big game at this very moment or Gerrit Cole?

‘The People’s Ace’: Yankees’ Nestor Cortes is showing he’s more than just a one-season wonder

nestor cortes jr., yankees

Yankees‘ Nestor Cortes has taken baseball by storm, and this season he is already off to a fast start. In Nestor’s debut showing against the Blue Jays, he made an extremely talented and righty-heavy lineup wither away. Now Nestor isn’t the prototypical “ace” that many flock to, unlike the ones that throw 100+ or have a sinker that dances around the plate; Nestor relies on his command of the strike zone and his delivery to throw off the hitter. 

Take a look at Nestor’s put away pitch here to Vlad Guerrero Jr. in a full count, albeit a poor call from the umpire: 

Last year his average FB velocity was 90.7MPH. Could this mean we haven’t seen the best of Nestor yet? Just prior to that demoralizing strikeout to Vladdy, he struck out Bo Bichette on a high fastball – which registered at 93.6MPH on the gun and was the fastest Nestor has topped out at in a Yankees uniform:

Nestor Cortes has filthy stuff and commands the plate exceptionally well. Since 2021, across 97.1 IP, Cortes boasts a 4.7 K-BB ratio, with a 28% K Rate to go with a measly 6% BB rate.

In an age of baseball where stuff, movement, velocity, and delivery, are all the rave, Nestor continues to prove that his style of pitcher is anything but a dying breed. He doesn’t complain, doesn’t sound off on certain players or situations, just does his job, and competes as hard as anyone in the league. Nestor’s grittiness and complete “no fear” mentality make him an intimidating pitcher and one that gets results. 

In the next inning, Nestor threw a fastball right down the middle of the plate, daring Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to swing at it: 

When Nestor got pulled, the look in his eye said it all. There are few people that want to be taken out of a game, which is understandable, but with Nestor, it’s as if he takes it personally. Dubbing him “The People’s Ace” is overtly fitting, as with a 2.7 ERA & 3.6 FIP since the start of last season, the quality truly is ace worthy. Not to mention, Nestor was Bronxie’s best friend, and that should say more than you need to hear. It’s easy to root for a guy like Nestor because of the person he is but rooting for Nestor, the baseball player, is seemingly just as easy. The Yankees’ ace will most likely take the bump again on Sunday to help the Yanks wrap up the O’s series. 

Do the Yankees have a new No. 2 pitcher to complement Gerrit Cole?

nestor cortes jr., yankees

It is time the New York Yankees start respecting and considering pitcher Nestor Cortes as a legitimate starter. Management has started Cortes at the back-end of the rotation this season after posting solid numbers in 2021. There were concerns he would regress this year after having an anomaly of a season in 2021, but after dominating the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday, we may have to reconsider that assumption.

Cortes recorded a 2.90 ERA over 93 innings, picking up 9.97 strikeouts per 9, a 27.4% ground ball rate, and 85% left on base rate. This was by far Cortes’s top season as a professional over four years, having spent time with Baltimore and Seattle along with the Yankees.

During his most prevalent campaign, Cortes’s barrel percentage dropped to 7.4% from 10.7% in 2020 with Seattle. He posted a 3.78 SIERA and 4.18 xFIP, showcasing above-average numbers across the board.

Utilizing a fastball, slider, curveball, and change-up, Cortes has a nasty array of pitches he can utilize to keep batters on their toes. Last year, Cortes recorded a career-high 90.7 mph fastball average, up over 2 mph from the year prior. He used his fastball at nearly 47%, with his slider dropping to 23.4% and curveball increasing to 20.1%. The Yankees clearly found his best combination of pitchers and how often to use each one, which has boosted his statistics tremendously.

After general manager Brian Cashman avoided injecting any starting pitching talent into the rotation, the team featured Luis Severino as the No. 2 slot behind Gerrit Cole. However, there is a legitimate argument to make that Cortes should be the top gun behind Cole, starting the 2022 season on a high note on Tuesday.

Cortes lasted 4.1 innings, throwing 72 pitches. He posted 46 strikes, allowing three hits and striking out five batters. He didn’t allow a single walk, showcasing fantastic efficiency and location with his pitches.

At some point, the Bombers need to move him up the rotation instead of utilizing him as a de facto No. 4 option.

The New York Yankees’ most underrated player could have a big impact in 2022

New York Yankees, Nestor Cortes Jr.

The New York Yankees’ starting pitching rotation struggled considerably during the 2021 season, specifically as a result of injury. Corey Kluber sustained a shoulder injury early in the year, and both Luis Severino and Domingo German battled their own issues.

That is not even to mention Jameson Taillon tearing multiple ligaments in his ankle, forcing the relief pitchers to step up in a big way and supplement deficiencies. One of the Yankees’ more underrated players last year was Nestor Cortes Jr., who has spent two of the last three years with New York, making a short detour with the Seattle Mariners in 2020.

During Nestor’s first stint with the Yankees, he recorded a 5.67 ERA and 34.2% ground ball rate. However, this past season wearing pinstripes, Cortes pitched 93 innings, posting a 2.90 ERA with 9.97 strikeouts per nine and a 2.42 walk rate, the best of his career. In fact, Cortes also recorded a 1.35 home runs per nine rate, another best, logging a 1.7 WAR.

Heading into the 2022 campaign, the Yankees are concerned about their rotation but have confidence in their bullpen to help smooth over any issues. However, there is a possibility that management injects Cortes into a starting slot, especially after dominating last season, regularly utilizing different arm angles and a variety of pitches.

Cortes has worked hard to develop his arsenal, featuring a fastball, slider, curveball, and change-up. He threw his fastball 46.8% of the time last year, reaching a best of 90.7 mph, the highest of his four-year career in the majors. His slider usage dipped a bit from 40% in 2020, using it just 23.4% last year, but saw a 3 mph increase in velocity. Interestingly, he used curveball 20.1% of the time, the most of his career by a significant margin, even throwing in his changeup at nearly 10%.

With a healthy blend of four pitches, Cortes still predominantly relies on his fastball, which doesn’t have elite speed but keeps batters honest as he tantalizes them with different arm slots and breaking pitches.

It will be interesting to see how management utilizes Cortes moving forward, especially after experiencing success in the starting rotation last year. I imagine he will start 2022 in the bullpen, but if needed, he can make the transition rather smoothly.

New York Yankees: Will Nestor Cortes Jr. stand tall in the 2022 rotation?

New York Yankees, Nestor Cortes Jr.

It was August 28, 2021, and the New York Yankees faced the Oakland Athletics, with Nestor Cortes Jr. on the mound trying to win the Yankee’s 14th win in a row. A win would have been the longest consecutive winning streak since 1941. But, unfortunately, the victory was not to be had, as Cortes gave up three runs through the sixth inning, and the Yankees, as so often last season, could only muster up two runs of their own.

Although Cortes didn’t win that game, he had been a Godsend for the Yankees with the injury to Corey Kluber. Cortes started the season as a reliever out of the bullpen but gradually stretched out to a starter to fill the gap.

Cortes was a strange pitcher that didn’t have an overpowering fastball or no particular put-out pitch. What he did have was an ever-changing delivery that mystified opposing hitters. He finished the season 2-3 in 22 games. He struck out five players a game and amassed a tiny ERA of just 2.90. However, like other Yankee pitchers, he suffered from little run support.

The question now is, what part will he play in the 2022 season? Will we see him back in the bullpen or again as a starting pitcher in the rotation. If the Yankees can’t pull in a significant number two starter to back up Gerrit Cole, you could see Cortes standing tall right in the middle of the rotation, either in front or behind Jordan Montgomery. Was last season an anomaly, or is he the real deal? Much of how the Yankees treat Cortes will be based on his performance in spring training, if and when that starts.

An excellent example of Cortes on the mound happened in a game against the Angels. Cortes Jr. is an old fashion pitcher, a real pitcher that constantly surprises his opponents with a whacky windup and throws any pitch at any time. He keeps hitters off-balance, often making them laugh. In a game against the Angels, he faced the great Shohei Ohtani. When Cortes made a bunch of strange moves on the mound, Ohtani laughed, thinking that Cortes was afraid to pitch to him; the fact was that he was playing with Ohtani. Cortes is scared of nothing and always has fun on the mound. He can’t blow away hitters, but his mental game wins.

Cortes Jr. throws a four-seam fastball that averages approximately 89 miles per hour. He also throws a slider and a curveball. His curveball has been registered as slow as 47 miles per hour. Hitters never know what they are going to get from Cortes. He throws all of his pitches in any situation. His style has given Yankee fans something to enjoy.

Cortes was born in Surgidero de Batabano, Cuba. His father won a lottery when Nestor was just a baby, and his father moved the family to Hialeah, Florida. Cortes started playing baseball at the age of 5. He pitched for Hialeah High School and Florida International University. The Yankees selected Cortes in the 36th round of the 2013 draft. He started in the Gulf Coast League, but the Yankees didn’t protect him, and the Orioles claimed him in the Rule 5 draft. He made his Major League debut as a Baltimore Oriole on the first day of the 2018 season.

On April 13, 2018, he was returned to the Yankees. He played in one game for the Trenton Thunder, but he advanced to the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, combining a 6†“6 record and a 3.68 ERA in 24 games. In spring training in 2019, he didn’t make the team and started the season in Scranton. On May 9, he was advanced to the Stadium. On June 15, he earned his first Major League win but again was sent down to Scranton, where he completed the season 5-1, but in November, he was traded to the Seattle Mariners. He bombed with the Mariners and selected free agency.

The New York Yankees signed him to a minor league contract in a third stint. He came up to the Stadium on May 20, 2021. In nine games at the beginning of the season, he won no games but recorded a 1.05 ERA. The Yankees won both of the games that Cortes started. Where he ends up in the rotation this season, one thing will be sure he will surely entertain.