Saturday, May 21, 2022

"There definitely is a buzz" When Nasty Nestor Is On Mound, Says Boone


Nestor Cortes. @Yankees on Twitter.

Yankees starting pitcher Nestor Cortes burst on the scene with sterling performances at the end of last season, and has continued to flourish this season, a big part of why the Yankees have the best record in baseball, at 28-10 entering Saturday's game against the Chicago White Sox.

Cortes, a left-hander, will be on the mound for this one, and he is known as "Nasty Nestor" because of the litany of pitches he uses to get out his opponents, often throwing sidearm, which is not seen much anymore. 

The last time Cortes pitched at Yankee Stadium was on May 9, when he took a no-hitter into the eighth inning against the Texas Rangers, whcih only solidified the myth around him as a guy to watch.

Baseball has seen this before, where a unique character with exceptional talent, like Mark Fidrych back in 1976 with the Tigers or Yankee Ron Guidry amidst his 25-game season in 1978, can make their games feel like events.

"There definitely is, I know, a buzz when he's going, not just here, but it seems like nationally now, too," Yankees Manager Aaron Boone said on Saturday morning in his pregame press conference. "A lot of people obviously talking about him, and he seems to do something every outing that kind of adds to the legend, you know, whether it's head-first dives into first base, or whatever. I mean, obviously, we love when he gets the ball and is taking the mound, and he's pitching incredibly well for us, and hopefully he can get this series started off on a good note for us."

Nestor Cortes warming up on Saturday afternoon. Photo by Jason Schott.

In addition to the aura around Cortes, his stats, cold hard numbers, are pretty damn good. He has posted in his seven starts this season entering his start on Saturday against the Chicago White Sox are phenomenal: his 1.35 ERA is the best in Major League Baseball, as he has allowed just six earned runs in 40 innings; and he ranks second in the following categories: opponents' batting average (.164), opponents' on-base percentage (.225), opponents' OPS (.504). He is third in the league in these categories: WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) of 0.85; opponents' SLG (.279). He ranks fifth in K/9.0 IP (11.03).

Since the 2021 season, his 2.44 ERA (133.0 IP, 36 ER) is the third-lowest in the Majors in that span (minimum 125.0 IP), behind only Ranger Suarez (2.11) and Corbin Burnes (2.39).

Nasty Nestor has allowed just two-run-or-fewer in his last nine starts, dating back to September 25, 2021, and that ties him for the longest such streak in franchise history with Luis Severino (9/12/18-4/20/22), Michael Pineda (4/5-9/5/14), and Art Ditmar, from July 16 to September 9, 1959. In his last 16 starts, he has allowed no more than three runs.

Cortes is 2-1 this season, with a 1.35 ERA in seven starts, and if you include the 2021 campaign, he has made 21 starts, and has a record of 4-4 with a 2.46 ERA )(113.1 IP, 31 ER), and 124K, and has allowed three runs or fewer in 21 of those starts, and two or less in 18 of them, including the last nine straight, which is referenced above.

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