‘Nasty Nestor’ emerges as a force in the Yankee rotation

Nestor Cortes Jr. -- A Yankee star in the making?

Nestor Cortes Jr.

From journeyman to just plain “nasty,” Nestor Cortes Jr. is the New York Yankees’ feel-good story so far in 2022.

Indeed, the mustachioed left-hander with the inventive deliveries and an itinerant career that has taken him from Baltimore to New York to Seattle and back to New York — twice — has emerged as the Bombers’ best starter in the early going. He’s also a big reason why the team sits atop of the AL East through the season’s first five weeks.

As of mid-May, the 27-year-old Floridian owned a modest 1-1 won-lost record but with a miniscule 1.41 ERA with 42 strikeouts, 11 walks and 20 hits in 32 innings (six starts) for a WHIP of 0.97. Included in that is the no-hitter he nearly threw at the Texas Rangers on May 9, the only hit being a weak bloop single by Eli White in the eighth inning of a 1-0 New York win at Yankee Stadium.

In his first three seasons in the majors, Cortes gave no indication he was anything more than a long man, sporting a 6.72 ERA with the Orioles, Yanks and Mariners from 2018 to 2020. He’d been designated for assignment and traded for international pool money, so the 36th round draft choice’s talents weren’t exactly in high demand. But flashes of brilliance and a 2.90 ERA in 93 innings in 2021 earned the man now known as “Nasty Nestor” another look in The Bronx.

The Yankees can be seen in action Saturday, June 11, at home against the Chicago Cubs in a game airing on FS1.

Player Profile

Full name: Nestor Cortes Jr.

Birth date: Dec. 10, 1994

Birthplace: Surgidero de Batabanó, Cuba (grew up in Hialeah, Fla.)

Height/weight: 5 feet 11 inches/210 pounds

Teams: Baltimore Orioles (2018), Seattle Mariners (2020), New York Yankees (2019, 2021-present)

Position: Starting pitcher

Bats/throws: Right/left

No.: 65

Pitching profile: Throws a four-seam fastball that averages about 91 mph; also throws a cutter, slider, changeup and curve ball that’s been clocked as slow as 47 mph

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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