Tuesday, November 29 2022

By Deesha Thosar
FOX Sports MLB Writer

Who gets the ball for the Yankees in Game 1 of the American League Division Series?

Right now, it’s hard to argue for anyone other than Nestor Cortes on the hill to kick off postseason baseball for the Bronx Bombers. In his latest start — a 65-pitch, one-run gem Wednesday at Fenway Park — Cortes smoothly navigated through a scrappy Red Sox lineup in his second outing back from the injured list. The atmosphere was playoff-like, as 36,581 fans filled the stadium for a rivalry that isn’t what it used to be but still brings the heat. 

Like he always does, Cortes stuck to business as usual.

While his command was not as sharp as we’ve seen, Cortes induced seven strikeouts and allowed just three hits across five innings. The Yankee southpaw relied heavily on his fastball, inducing seven swings and misses on the pitch, while mixing in his cutter and slider effectively. And he even brought the funk! Cortes broke out a hilariously weird windup against Rafael Devers, starting his usual leg kick, then bringing it back behind his left leg in something resembling a curtsy, before getting Devers to whiff on a fastball outside. 

“I will be honest, I almost fell over,” Cortes told reporters in Boston on Wednesday. “But as I was going down, I said, ‘I have to let go of this pitch right now.’ If not, I wasn’t going to be able to make it. I was just happy it was a competitive pitch.”

As for Gerrit Cole, it seems like all season we’ve been waiting for him to consistently pitch like the ace the Yankees expected when they signed him for $324 million in 2020. At some point, and maybe that point is now, there’s nothing left for which to wait. He’s not a shutdown starter, he’s probably overpaid, and that’s OK. 

It doesn’t necessarily mean the Yankees can’t win without a dependable ace (the result of the 2021 Yankees-Red Sox wild-card game notwithstanding). But it does mean that Cole has shown us that this is who he is in pinstripes: a good but not great strikeout-heavy starter with a penchant for giving up long balls.

Cole’s ERA rose to 3.30 on the season Tuesday after he coughed up three home runs at Fenway Park, a stadium that has continued to be a source of trouble for the right-hander. And the timing of the home runs was also deflating. 

The first of the trio came in the second inning on a two-run shot to rookie Triston Casas, which put the Yankees behind 2-0. After Marwin Gonzalez tied the game with a solo home run in the third, Cole gave the lead right back to Boston when he served up a high heater that Reese McGuire muscled out of the park in the bottom of the frame. After Aaron Judge again knotted things up with his 56th home run of the season in the sixth, Cole’s meatball to Xander Bogaerts in the bottom of the inning sailed into the right-field seats and gave the Red Sox the lead again. 

Though Judge hit yet another homer and the Yankees’ offense bailed Cole out, his erratic performance — complete with 10 strikeouts — was both familiar and irritating.

Aaron Judge does it again!

Aaron Judge hit two home runs against the Red Sox on Tuesday, bringing his season total to 57 with 20 games left to play.

When reporters asked why he struggles with the long ball in Boston, Cole indicated he was just as much in the dark. He said it was “just a high level of execution on their part,” but his poor results at Fenway are a pattern. His 12 home runs allowed at Fenway in the regular season are the most he has given up at any ballpark, excluding his home stadiums of Yankee Stadium, Minute Maid Park and PNC Park. We all remember his meltdown at Fenway during last year’s AL wild-card game, which included a pair of dingers in his ineffective two-inning start that put the Yankees in a 3-0 hole and, later, ended their season.

This year, he hasn’t quelled those long-ball concerns. Cole’s 27 home runs allowed are tied for third-most in the major leagues. It’s fair to wonder how much of Cole’s inconsistent command is a result of MLB‘s crackdown on sticky stuff, a ban on foreign substances like Spider Tack that began in earnest last summer. This year’s version of Cole may be the best the Yankees will get, the one they can expect going forward.

Even though Cortes (10-4, 2.70 ERA) deserves to be the Yankees’ Game 1 starter, it’s easier to imagine manager Aaron Boone giving the ball to Cole (11-7, 3.30 ERA) due to his contract alone. Take outfielder Aaron Hicks, for example. The Yankees have shown they’re willing to sacrifice the quality of their play because they’re stuck with the underperforming Hicks’ seven-year, $70 million contract through 2025. Cole’s nine-year, $324 million deal would explain why the Yankees will likely put him on the hill for Game 1.

But if the goal for the team’s pitching staff is consistency, effectiveness and dominance, then Nasty Nestor Cortes is the answer. Game 1 starters are tasked with setting the tone and, if they’re capable, carrying the team to the World Series. Cortes has earned the opportunity to be that starter for the Yankees. 

Deesha Thosar is an MLB writer for FOX Sports. She previously covered the Mets for the New York Daily News. Follow her on Twitter at @DeeshaThosar.


Get more from Major League Baseball Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more.


in this topic

Source: FOX Sports

Previous

MacKinnon says he and Avalanche are close on a new contract

Next

Fantasy Hockey 2022-23: NHL players who are poised for bounce-back seasons

Check Also

Pro Sports Media

Trending Now

Live Chat: South Florida vs. Southeast Missouri

BullsInsider – Live Chat: South Florida vs. Southeast Missouri PHNjcmlwdD4KICAoZnVuY3Rpb24odyxkLHMsbCxpKXsKICAgICAgICBpZiAo d2luZG93Ll9kaWRBc3luY0luamVjdEdvb2dsZVRhZ01hbmFnZXIpIHJldHVy bjsKICAgICAgICB3W2xdPXdbbF18fFtdO3dbbF0ucHVzaCh7J2d0bS5zdGFy dCc6CiAgICAgICAgbmV3IERhdGUoKS5nZXRUaW1lKCksZXZlbnQ6J2d0bS5q cyd9KTt2YXIgZj1kLmdldEVsZW1lbnRzQnlUYWdOYW1lKHMpWzBdLAogICAg ICAgIGo9ZC5jcmVhdGVFbGVtZW50KHMpLGRsPWwhPSdkYXRhTGF5ZXInPycm bD0nK2w6Jyc7ai5hc3luYz10cnVlO2ouc3JjPQogICAgICAgICdodHRwczov L3d3dy5nb29nbGV0YWdtYW5hZ2VyLmNvbS9ndG0uanM/aWQ9JytpK2RsKycm Z3RtX2F1dGg9JysnS2hINmhlQ3BvV0pVSG5xVnpkRWE3dycrCiAgICAgICAg JyZndG1fcHJldmlldz0nKydlbnYtMScrJyZndG1fY29va2llc193aW49eCc7 Zi5wYXJlbnROb2RlLmluc2VydEJlZm9yZShqLGYpOwogICAgICAgIHdpbmRv dy5fZGlkQXN5bmNJbmplY3RHb29nbGVUYWdNYW5hZ2VyID0gdHJ1ZTsKICAg ICAgfSkod2luZG93LGRvY3VtZW50LCdzY3JpcHQnLCdkYXRhTGF5ZXInLCdH VE0tTUY2UFhYQycpOwo8L3NjcmlwdD4KPG5vc2NyaXB0Pgo8aWZyYW1lIGhl aWdodD0nMCcgc3JjPSdodHRwczovL3d3dy5nb29nbGV0YWdtYW5hZ2VyLmNv bS9ucy5odG1sP2lkPUdUTS1NRjZQWFhDJmFtcDtndG1fYXV0aD1LaEg2aGVD cG9XSlVIbnFWemRFYTd3JmFtcDtndG1fcHJldmlldz1lbnYtMSZhbXA7Z3Rt X2Nvb2tpZXNfd2luPXgnIHN0eWxlPSdkaXNwbGF5Om5vbmU7dmlzaWJpbGl0 eTpoaWRkZW4nIHdpZHRoPScwJz48L2lmcmFtZT4KPC9ub3NjcmlwdD4KCgo= You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to use Rivals.com Join the team! Subscribe PGRpdiBjbGFzcz0ncmEtY29udGFpbmVyIGRpc3Ryb19hZCc+CjxkaXYgY2xh c3M9J3ZpZGVvLWFkLXdyYXBwZXInPgo8c2NyaXB0IGFzeW5jIHNyYz0nLy9j LmpzcmRuLmNvbS9zL2NzLmpzP3A9MjI1NDYnIHR5cGU9J3RleHQvamF2YXNj cmlwdCc+PC9zY3JpcHQ+CjxkaXYgY2xhc3M9J3ZpZGVvLWNvbnRhaW5lcicg aWQ9J2RzX2RlZmF1bHRfYW5jaG9yJz48L2Rpdj4KPC9kaXY+CjwvZGl2PgoK {{ timeAgo(‘2022-11-07 17:55:00 -0600’) }} […]

Read More

The Mets Pod: As they extend their winning ways, will they also extend Chris Bassitt?

The Mets Pod logo 16×9 Connor Rogers and Joe DeMayo are back with Episode 6 of The Mets Pod, SNY’s podcast covering all things New York Mets. The guys look back at a special Friday night in Philadelphia, as the Mets pulled off a ninth inning comeback for the ages, and they also do a […]

Read More