The New York Yankees had their 11-game winning streak snapped on Wednesday night, but they remain an elite team.
Part of their early-season success stems from their really strong rotation.
Heavily criticized for not bringing in any reinforcements for their pitching staff over the offseason, the Yanks are proving everybody wrong and showing they can have a top rotation even without any major moves.
We all expected Gerrit Cole to be the Yankees’ top pitcher.
And he hasn’t been bad at all.
After a somewhat rocky beginning portion of the season, he is already at a 3.00 ERA in 24 innings.
However, he hasn’t been the best pitcher on the staff.
Nasty Nestor Has Been The Staff Leader
That honor belongs to funky left-hander Nestor Cortes Jr.
“Five trips through the #Yankees starting rotation… Nestor Cortes: 1.82 ERA, 24.2 IP, 0.7 fWAR. Jameson Taillon: 2.84 ERA, 25.1 IP, 0.5. fWAR Jordan Montgomery: 2.88 ERA, 25 IP, 0.5 fWAR. Gerrit Cole: 3.00 ERA, 24 IP, 0.3 fWAR. Luis Severino: 3.75 ERA, 24 IP, 0.2 fWAR,” SI.com’s Max Goodman tweeted.
Five trips through the #Yankees starting rotation…
Nestor Cortes: 1.82 ERA, 24.2 IP, 0.7 fWAR
Jameson Taillon: 2.84 ERA, 25.1 IP, 0.5 fWAR
Jordan Montgomery: 2.88 ERA, 25 IP, 0.5 fWAR
Gerrit Cole: 3.00 ERA, 24 IP, 0.3 fWAR
Luis Severino: 3.75 ERA, 24 IP, 0.2 fWAR
— Max Goodman (@MaxTGoodman) May 5, 2022
Cortes isn’t your prototypical ace: he is short, he doesn’t have an athletic build, and he doesn’t throw hard: his average fastball velocity this year is 90.3 mph, actually down in comparison to his 2021 90.8 mph mark.
But he deceives batters with unorthodox deliveries, he changes angles and speeds, and he uses five pitches.
He is reckless and brave on the mound, and is surprisingly athletic.
So far, Cortes has a 1.82 ERA in 24.2 frames with the Yankees, accumulating 31 strikeouts against only seven walks.
He has pitched like an ace, although he doesn’t profile like one.
The last sentence doesn’t really matter, as long as he keeps producing on the mound.
“Nasty Nestor” is, against all odds, the best pitcher on the Yankees.