The Yankees announced they’ve recalled right-handers Jhony Brito and Randy Vásquez. One roster spot was opened when left-hander Nick Ramirez was optioned to Triple-A yesterday. The other corresponding move is lefty Nestor Cortes landing on the 15-day injured list, retroactive to August 8, with a left rotator cuff strain.
Cortes told reporters that while surgery isn’t under consideration, he’ll be shut down from throwing entirely for around one month (relayed by Brendan Kuty of the Athletic). Given that timetable, skipper Aaron Boone acknowledged it’s unlikely the southpaw will make it back this season, though the club hasn’t officially ruled him out for the year (via Erik Boland of Newsday).
The ’23 campaign has been exceedingly frustrating for last year’s eighth-place Cy Young finisher. Cortes strained his hamstring in February, knocking him out of the World Baseball Classic and putting him behind the eight ball in his ramp-up. He was able to return by the start of the season but didn’t pitch as well as anticipated through 11 starts. During the first week of June, Cortes suffered a rotator cuff strain that wound up costing him around two months.
He returned from that rehab last weekend but managed only one four-inning outing before the injury resurfaced. Given the month-long shutdown and need to subsequently restart the rehab process, it seems a similar absence could be on the table. With less than two months to go in the regular season, there might not be enough time for him to return to the mound.
Cortes has made 12 starts overall, working to a 4.97 ERA over 63 1/3 frames. It’s a far cry from last year’s 2.44 ERA, though that always seemed likely to regress. Cortes still struck out over a quarter of opponents with a solid 7.5% walk percentage, with a spike in home runs and an uptick in the average on balls in play against him contributing to the less impressive results.
The 28-year-old is playing this season on a $3.2MM arbitration salary. He’ll receive a raise — albeit a fairly modest one — on that next winter and is eligible for arbitration twice more. Even if he can’t make it back this season, Cortes should be a key part of the projected starting staff heading into 2024.
New York’s short-term rotation outlook is far less settled. Injuries have cost Frankie Montas the season to date and shelved Cortes and Carlos Rodón on multiple occasions. Gerrit Cole has been phenomenal and Clarke Schmidt has settled in after a rocky April, but the rest of the group has struggled.
Luis Severino has been one of the worst pitchers in the league, posting an 8.06 ERA across 14 outings. Were the Yankees in a better position, they quite likely would’ve bumped him from the rotation by now. With so many injuries, Severino has tenuously held his rotation spot. Boone told reporters this afternoon he’s likely to get another start on Tuesday against Atlanta (via Bryan Hoch of MLB.com). Brito and Vásquez are likely to fill out the rotation for now.