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Nestor Cortes ticketed for 15-day IL with shoulder injury

Unless something drastically changes, the Yankees will likely be without their nominal No. 2 starter for a couple weeks.

Baltimore Orioles v New York Yankees Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Across the span of a good year and a half, Nestor Cortes was such a fun story for the Yankees. A former 36th-round pick and non-roster invitee on his third different stint with New York, Cortes fought his way back to the majors in 2021 and earned himself a rotation spot down the stretch. He quickly proved that it was his to lose with a solid 3.35 ERA in 15 games from July onward, and then defied expectations with an even better 2022 that netted him an All-Star appearance and cult hero status in the Bronx.

2023 has... not been nearly as good to Nestor, and that’s a generous way to put it. He had to withdraw from World Baseball Classic preparation and miss a large chunk of spring training with a hamstring injury. He made it back in time for the Yankees’ fourth game of the young campaign, but he’s posted a 5.16 ERA and 4.60 FIP across 11 starts. Although Cortes has only had a couple outright stinkers and has even flashed his 2022 form at times, he’s struggled lasting deep into ballgames and facing hitters the third time through.

Now, we might have a bit of an idea why. Prior to tonight’s game against the Dodgers, Yankees manager Aaron Boone announced that Cortes would likely go to the 15-day IL with a shoulder injury.

If Cortes has indeed had problems recovering between starts because of the shoulder, then it was definitely time for the Yankees to give him some rest. It’s unfortunate because right now, the only reliable rotation starter is ace Gerrit Cole, but as the numbers indicated, he wasn’t exactly giving the Yankees what they needed.

The Yankees could turn to either Jhony Brito or Randy Vásquez to take Cortes’ next turn on Wednesday. Both Triple-A arms have seen time in the Bronx in 2023, with Brito perhaps having the edge since he began the year in the rotation due to Luis Severino’s injury. They could also just alternate ‘em and option one for a fresh reliever between starts. Even with Clarke Schmidt looking better lately and Severino still bursting with talent (Friday night notwithstanding), they might need the bullpen help given the state of the rotation.