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New York Yankees @ Toronto Blue Jays: Nestor Cortes vs. Bowden Francis

Nasty Nestor makes his spring debut in Dunedin against a familiar Blue Jays lineup

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees Workouts Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees rotation finally has a bit of good news for you this fine Saturday: Nestor Cortes is back! A bit more than a month after removing himself from the Team USA roster with a hamstring injury, the 28-year-old people’s champion is set to kick off his second full season in the Yankees rotation with a Saturday afternoon start against Bowden Francis and the Toronto Blue Jays.

Cortes has delivered over 250 innings of 2.61 ERA (3.37 FIP) pitching to the Yankees in his second stint with the team, encompassing 50 games (42 starts) dating to the start of 2021. There’s been a fair amount of hubbub about Cortes and his bevy of, shall we say, alternative windups and deliveries potentially being impacted negatively by the league’s new emphasis on balk rules and coming set before delivery. Fortunately, since Cortes’s hijinks typically involve changing his motion and timing after he’s already begun his delivery, it doesn’t seem as if he’ll need to make adjustments as radical as, say, Luis García, if there’s any at all.

Bowden Francis, a right-handed reliever operating in an opener role today, has yet to allow a run in four spring appearances (5.1 innings) and is fighting for an opening day roster spot. He threw a scoreless inning of work against the Yankees this past Tuesday.

On the offensive side, it’s the usual mix of regulars and fringe roster candidates in today’s lineup. Anthony Volpe leads off and plays shortstop again as he tries to bounce back from the first 0-for-4 day he’s had all spring. Oswald Peraza has the day off and cedes second base to Isiah Kiner-Falefa, an up-the-middle pairing that, frankly, would probably present the worst arm strength of any in the game if it were to occur in the regular season. Josh Donaldson remains at the hot corner, looking to jump-start what’s to this point been a sluggish spring after a sluggish summer, and Willie Calhoun (.370 average) keeps getting chances to make a Fairleigh Dickinson-esque run at some kind of left field role come opening day.

On the Toronto side, the Blue Jays send what very much resembles an opening day-type lineup to the dish, with Brandon Belt and Alejandro Kirk the only regular starters not seeing action this afternoon. Bo Bichette is tied for the lead among all big leaguers with 14 hits this spring, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. already has two homers and seven driven in in just seven games since his season got off to a slightly delayed start.

See you at first pitch!

Location: TD Ballpark — Dunedin, FL

First pitch: 1:07 pm ET

TV broadcast: None

Radio broadcast: WFAN 660/101.9 FM

Online stream:

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