How did this team come about?
Last year we learned of a funny-looking dude from the Bronx. His name? Nestor Cortes Jr. the dude had talent, but what caught viewers’ attention was his luxurious mustache and his fun style of play. In 2021 he boasted a very impressive 2.30 ERA and was a source of stability for a Yankees squad that was incredibly inconsistent on the mound and struggled to win the super important game down the stretch. This year, the Yankees’ rotation was set to change after the departure of Corey Kluber, and the return of Luis Severino who had been dealing with shoulder injuries. The Yankees then riddled through an offseason that sparked a lot of change throughout the team and the organization.
Trades and Changes
One trade made by the team was to send long-time catcher Gary Sanchez and defensive stud Gio Urshela to the Minnesota Twins in exchange for Josh Donaldson and a few prospects. The one issue that was seen with this trade, was that the ace pitcher for the Yankees, Gerrit Cole, has had so-called “beef” with Josh Donaldson.
It was an interesting move that upset a lot of fans as they didn’t like to see two fan-favorite players leave in exchange for a player who was widely hated by the fan base. But Cashman was on a high, so after looking at his numbers last year, he opted to move Nestor Cortes to the full-time starting rotation, as a means of hopefully winning back some public support and making sure the team can win when Cole isn’t on the bump.
Nestor gets his shot, and he doesn’t miss.
Now the bar for Cortes wasn’t necessarily high, but people were expecting him to perform. That’s the pressure that comes with playing in the biggest market in the world. So now entering the season, the pressure was on everyone, and Nestor has performed. As of the writing of this article, Cortes is 5-1, holds a 1.50 ERA, and has 0.87 Whip. Nestor was given the chance and lit up the diamond. While on the mound, he has also held opponents to just a .178 batting average when they face him on the mound. But at the same time, the best part is that he’s kept what has made him so loveable, the way he plays and has fun.
Rob Manfred has been kicking the bucket as commissioner and has almost pulled a footloose situation outlawing any fun on the field. Nestor Cortes has also led a dominant force to first in the American League as a whole, the Yankees have been blasting bombs everywhere, and it’s propelled them to a four and a half game lead in their division.
Is this sustainable for Nestor? and if so, how?
Nestor has been a fantastic start but the incredible thing for him is that he is playing with Aaron Boone as manager. While sometimes incompetent, one of Boones favorite things is to have starters be solely relieved. We’ve seen him do that a lot this year with Jordan Montgomery, Jonathan Loaisiga, and Clarke Schmidt. What this means for Nestor is, that when he gets burnt out and needs a break from starting, Boone can slide in one of those guys and bump him to the bullpen. It’s a trick we haven’t seen before but has incredibly positive implications.
Now in terms of team success, we’ve seen so far the Yankees have looked incredible. A large part of this is due to Aaron Judge’s stellar play as he is hoping to earn the huge extension, but also incredible pitching on the mound and out of the pen from Cortes, a surprising new standout in Clay Holmes, and a return to what he was pre-injury Luis Severino.
Hardware for Nestor and the rest of the Bronx Bombers
In terms of personal accolades, he’s currently third in the race for the AL Cy Young award behind veteran and future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander, and Yankee counterpart Clay Holmes. But if he keeps Cortes can keep this up, he could have an incredibly strong argument come October. Now in terms of team success, it is vital for any team who wants to contend to have a strong rotation, and right now the Yankees got it. The one question mark is Cole, but after a few bad early-season starts, he seems to have returned to his normal self as he is now ranked eighth in the Cy Young rankings himself.
But watch out for this team come October, unless, and as a Yankee fan I feel the need to preface this, Aaron Boone will more than likely find a way to mess it up and tank another promising season.
With all this being said about the Yankees as a whole, Nestor Cortes Jr. has been the much-needed catalyst towards success for this Yankees team and has inevitably pushed them to new heights so far this season.