Yankees: Nestor Cortes Jr. Is A Rotation Keeper No Matter Who Returns

Nestor Cortes Jr. - Quirky But Good (USA Today)

The Yankees rotation will soon be buffeted by the return of absentee starters that signal a roster crunch. But Cortes cannot be a casualty.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone gave the ball to Nestor Cortes Jr. again today, entrusting him with preserving the team’s tenth series win of their last eleven against the Chicago White Sox.

In his sixth start for the Yankees this year, Cortes turned in yet another impressive outing with six scoreless innings, throwing strikes to 16 of the 25 batters he faced.

Topping out at 93 MPH on the gun, Cortes, a lefty, continued his mastery of right-handed batters by mixing in his assortment of off-speed pitches, and once dropping down sidearm to strike out his final batter Jose Abreu.

Strikingly fearless on the mound, Cortes emits confidence and readiness to pitch anytime and anywhere Aaron Boone needs him.

He is known to walk into Boone’s office between starts and in lieu of a bullpen saying, “I’m good for a couple of innings if you need me”, Cortes is a throwback the Yankees haven’t seen since the days of Andy Petitte.

Yankees: Changes In The Mix Are Coming

What’s changing, though, for the Yankees is the landscape of starting pitchers – once a barren source of bullpen games and “who’s up next” to make the next start.

Aaron Boone Getting To Know Gerrit Cole (NY Post)
Aaron Boone Getting To Know Gerrit Cole (NY Post)

Gerrit Cole has already been announced to pitch on Monday against the Angels and Jordan Montgomery is on tap to pitch one of the two games in a split doubleheader against the Red Sox.

Corey Kluber, though less than impressive in his rehab start at Double-A Somerset and Clarke Schmidt on the same path, will soon be ready to rejoin the Yankees.

Together with Jameson Taillon continuing his recent run, where does that leave Cortes?

The easiest play for Aaron Boone and the Yankees will be to return Nestor Cortes to the bullpen, where he has also excelled, as a long-relief artist.

But is that the best move?

Yankees: Offense And Pitching Gelling

Assuming that Andrew Heaney is not even in the conversation because he shouldn’t be, with Schmidt relegated to Triple-A Scranton, the Yankees rotation is soon to be buffeted by the return of absentee starters that signal a roster crunch.

Luis Gil, More Than A Yankees Pitching Prospect
Luis Gil, More Than A Yankees Pitching Prospect

Luis Gil, who is scheduled to pitch one of the two games in tomorrow’s doubleheader against the Red Sox, has also caught the eye of the Yankees, especially for his poise and command.

But Cortes, although he may be, cannot be a casualty.

The Yankees, have been fortified by the additions of Joey Gallo, Anthony Rizzo, plus the emergence of Tyler Wade, who has raised his batting average to a respectable .270 (have you noticed?) in the last week or so.

Rougned Odor continues to baffle all naysayers, as he did today crushing a two-run home run off Lucas Giolito, and Brett Gardner contributed by taking nearly 25% of the 100 pitches thrown by Giolito, leading to his early exit.

With that, both the offense and pitching are finally hitting the same mark, reflecting the Yankee’s recent surge, winning ten of their eleven series, including yesterday’s win over the AL Central-leading White Sox.

It’s ironic the Yankees, as a team with a reputation for always being starved for starting pitching, will soon have a surplus.

Hopefully, Aaron Boone and pitching coach Mike Blake make the right choices and one that includes Nestor Cortes remaining in the rotation.

Yankees: An Alternate Plan

The Yankees have the option of going to a six-man rotation, excepting Gerrit Cole who can stay in regular starts every fifth day.

I like this a lot because when you consider that Kluber and Montgomery need time to rebuild arm strength, the extra day gives them time to work in another bullpen between starts.

Zack Britton: Yankees Union Rep (NY Daily News)
Zack Britton: Yankees Union Rep (NY Daily News)

Plus, when Jameson Taillon is factored in, he’s reaching into his 24th start of the season and has 118 innings pitched after injuries allowed him only 37 innings in 2019, and none in 2020.

Will the Yankees do it? Probably not, as Boone likes to keep his bullpen stacked, a decision that will be made easier due to the recent struggles of Zack Britton, together with Aroldis Chapman‘s arm issues.

According to reports, Britton has asked Boone to remove him from the closer’s role, saying “he doesn’t deserve to pitch the ninth inning”.

Given the inference that Britton may be dealing with a confidence issue, Boone will almost certainly acquiesce to Britton’s request.

Things could be “worse” for the Yankees, though, if Luis Severino hadn’t removed himself from a weekend rehab after showing obvious discomfort – because then Boone would have yet another starter to mix in.

The Yankees’ strange season is getting even stranger, though, with a “problem” few would ever have dreamed they would have…

Here’s What Readers Are Saying…

Robert Hafner 100% agree….get Heaney out of there for him!!

Meryl Cohen He has done an awesome job!!

Chad Landsman Cole,Cortes,Taillon, Monty and Gils.Get rid of the SP from the Angels.

Sher Heide Heaney is not a starter we need. I think he has some good stuff but he gives up too many home runs. Once he settles down he’s ok and was an innings eater but going forward we need better.

Robert Rosado Herrand Cortes is fun to watch. Hopefully, the Yankees buried Heaney in the cornfields. He’s not to be seen or heard of again. Looking forward to seeing Cole and Monty come back as well as Taillon continuing to pitch well. I would like to see Gil back up too. I don’t know what’s going on with German but Nestor should be kept in the mix he seems to be the type that can start in also come in the middle of a game and be productive.

Andrew Pal The thing I like most about Cortes is his ability to pitch creatively instead of just throwing as hard as he can. That’s a throwback at this time when everyone seems to throw in the high 90s or even harder. The ability to mix up your pitches, keep hitters off balance and hit your spots is largely a lost art in today’s game. I hope he continues to get his chances to start.

Mike Harrington Agreed, the guy is too good to be bounced out. They might want to consider Schmidt to the bullpen for the rest of the season, or going with a 6 man rotation. Though let’s see who actually gets back, no one’s back yet until they’re really back, and right now the only guy back is Gerrit Cole.

Frank Verderese I’m right there with you

Antoine Stone He’s nice to watch very animated the way he pitches but once everyone comes back he should be used to eat up innings so we don’t blow out our bullpen he’s already stretched out and we know what we’re getting

Closing Published Comments And Final Thoughts

With this, we’ll close out published comments for this article.

The “Ayes” overwhelmingly have it. Now, if only Aaron Boone listens…

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Author: stevecontursi

I am an amateur writer with a passion for baseball and all things Yankees and Mets.