The Yankees will place left-hander Nestor Cortes on the 15-day injured list prior to tomorrow’s game, according to The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler. Cortes is suffering from a groin injury. As reported earlier today, New York was preparing to place a then-unknown pitcher on the IL to make room for the promotion of minor league right-hander Greg Weissert.
While any pitching injury would’ve been a setback, losing Cortes for any amount of time is a tough blow to the Bronx Bombers. “Nasty Nestor” has been arguably the Yankees’ best starter this season, and one of the better pitchers in all of baseball. After surprisingly emerging as a rotation stalwart in 2021, Cortes has kept on rolling, posting a 2.68 ERA and above-average strikeout (25.9%) and walk (5.8%) rates over 131 innings of work. Despite a low-velocity four-seamer, Cortes’ fastball has been extremely effective, and his cutter isn’t far behind in terms of sheer effectiveness.
Though Cortes’ 131 innings is a new career high for the 27-year old over any pro season, there hasn’t been much sign that Cortes is slowing down, and he was expected to be a big weapon for the Yankees in October. This 15-day IL stint could perhaps serve as a bit of break in terms of keeping Cortes’ arm fresh, though naturally his groin issue is now a new concern. The severity of the injury or a possible timeline for Cortes’ return isn’t yet known.
New York enjoyed a great run of pitching health over the first half of the season, but several injuries have cropped up in recent weeks. The bullpen has taken the brunt of the injury woes, but the rotation hasn’t been immune, with Luis Severino out until mid-September due to a lat strain and now Cortes’ injury. The Yankees acquired Frankie Montas from the A’s at the deadline but also moved Jordan Montgomery to the Cardinals in another trade, plus Domingo German has been a little inconsistent (if generally solid) since making his season debut in July, after shoulder problems kept him on the sidelines.
Clarke Schmidt was recently called back up to the active roster, and the former first-rounder seems like the probable candidate to step into Cortes’ rotation spot. Over 22 games and 45 2/3 career innings at the MLB level in 2020-22, Schmidt has only made three starts, but the Yankees have mostly been using him in long relief this season and were stretching him out at Triple-A.