They thought that it was a mirage, a product of small sample size: Cortes just didn’t look the part.
Short and with a seemingly unathletic body (and without elite fastball speed), Cortes has always had to think outside the box to have a chance.
He was lost in mediocrity up until last year, when the Yankees revamped his stuff, delivery, and approach and he got that era.
The 2022 season, for him, was about proving everybody that he could, indeed, find a way to consistently succeed in MLB.
Boy, did he do it: with a 2.44 ERA in 158.1 frames, Cortes had the best season by a Yankees starter in the ERA department in almost 50 years.
Talk about proving yourself!
Fans Have Embraced Cortes
Now, Yankees fans have embraced Cortes and are able to look past his physique, or his seemingly ordinary repertoire (it’s not, by the way).
“This is the man with the lowest era for a Yankees starting pitcher over the last 43 years,” Twitter account @PlayoffTanaka_ wrote, with a hilarious picture of Cortes.
This is the man with the lowest era for a Yankees starting pitcher over the last 43 years. pic.twitter.com/FVZF2ZWDjn
— Gabe (@PlayoffTanaka_) October 1, 2022
The tweet was not made to mock Cortes: it was made to let everybody know that despite not being 6-foot-4, skinny, and super athletic, the left-hander is more than good enough to do what he is paid to do: consistently retire MLB hitters and giving his team a chance to win ballgames.
After his 2022 performance, people don’t doubt him anymore: he was one of the best pitchers in the American League; and his combination of pitching smarts, wicked cutter, awkward delivery, and surprisingly effective fastball give him an edge against any lineup.