9:30pm: Judge tells Hoch that he expects to undergo X-rays and/or an MRI when the club gets back to New York.
5:58pm: Yankees left-hander Nestor Cortes has a shoulder issue and is likely headed for the 15-day injured list, with Bryan Hoch of MLB.com among those to relay word from manager Aaron Boone (Twitter links). Boone hopes that Cortes will only miss one or two starts but the southpaw is undergoing an MRI to determine the exact nature and severity of the issue.
It’s not clear exactly when the issue arose, though Boone says Cortes has been having issues recovering in between his starts. If the club does indeed have to proceed without Cortes, that would obviously not be ideal, but it would perhaps at least lead to an explanation for his diminished results on the season.
The lefty bounced around to various clubs in the early parts of his career before breaking out with the Yankees in the last two years. He tossed 251 1/3 innings over 2021 and 2022, posting a combined 2.61 ERA in that time. He struck out 26.9% of opponents while walking 6.4%. Through 11 starts this year, his ERA is way up to 5.16 while his strikeout rate has dropped to 23.4% and his walks are up to 7.5%.
Despite that tepid performance, the Yanks surely don’t need yet another pitching injury to deal with. Frankie Montas and Carlos Rodón have yet to appear so far this season due to their own injuries and the club has also has to navigate absences from Domingo Germán and Luis Severino. Those latter two are now back in action, slotted alongside Gerrit Cole and Clarke Schmidt in the current rotation.
If Cortes does indeed miss a small amount of time, the club would likely need a spot start from one of Randy Vásquez or Jhony Brito. Both of them are on the 40-man roster and have been up in the majors at times this year. The Yanks have a handful of off-days this month that would limit the need for their services, though that need would obviously grow if the shoulder issue with Cortes proves to be more significant than hoped.
Rotation help could be coming further down the line as Rodón continues his march towards his Yankee debut. He suffered a forearm strain during Spring Training and then was slowed by a back issue that doctors have told him is chronic. Nonetheless, he’s been ramping up his activities in recent weeks and will face live hitters on Wednesday, per Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. His return to the majors leagues isn’t imminent as he will still need to build up to a full starter’s workload, but it’s encouraging that he’s jumping through the usual hoops without issue at the moment.
Elsewhere on the roster, Aaron Judge is out of tonight’s lineup with a minor issue. He made a spectacular catch last night, crashing into the wall at Dodger Stadium and busting open the bullpen gate, Twitter video per Hoch. Boone says Judge banged his toe and is sore and receiving treatment, per Hoch. There are no plans to place him on the injured list right now but it will depend how things progress. “I don’t know,” Boone tells Hoch in response to the IL question. “Not at this point. We’ll see how he is today, tomorrow and the next day.”
That will obviously be an important situation to monitor as Judge is having yet another excellent season. The reigning American League MVP has 19 home runs on the year already and is slashing .291/.404/.674 for a wRC+ of 188. With fellow outfielders Harrison Bader and Greg Allen already on the injured list, it would be a significant blow if Judge were to join them. With Judge out of the lineup tonight, the Yanks have Willie Calhoun, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Jake Bauers in the outfield with Giancarlo Stanton in the designated hitter slot. Franchy Cordero is on the 40-man roster and could be recalled if Judge does eventually require an IL stint.