Nestor Cortes is feeling well. The Yankees left-hander pitched five solid innings in the Bombers’ 8-2 victory over the Royals at Yankee Stadium on Saturday. That puts the total at 106.2 this season and is close to where he peaked last season.
That raised concerns about the 27-year-old’s exit for the season. He never threw more than 93 in the majors and threw just 108 between the majors and minors last year.
He threw a career-high 115 innings in the minors in 2018.
“I feel great, not feeling it at all,” the All-Star pitcher said. “I threw winter ball between 2018 and 2019, so I feel like I had more innings than what’s actually registered.”
On Saturday, Cortez held the Royals to two runs on five hits and two walks. He struck out five. In 16 of 19 starts this season, he has allowed three or fewer earned runs and two or fewer in 14 starts.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone admitted they are handling his workload in the second half of the season.
“Being there in the 90th and the fifth inning,” Boone said, “I was thinking about sending them there at least (Hunter Dozier) and then lefty (Vinny Pasquantino). I thought about it, but then I just worked it well with (Corlas Mendoza and Mtt Blake) thought he worked hard today, he had a hot day and pitches. Do I really want to push them through two hitters? We were pretty good with (Sroldis Chapman) and we Clark (Schmidt) was there for a long time if we had a lead.”
Chapman, who has struggled of late, pitched his third straight scoreless inning with two strikeouts. It was just the second successful outing for the former Yankees closer since coming off the injured list on July 2. The other consecutive scoreless innings came against the Pirates on July 5-6.
Boone perks up.
“He threw his fastball again for strikes, and I think it has to do with the delivery. I think it has to do with focus, not that he’s not focused, but I mean he’s just focused on being efficient in his delivery,” Boone said.
Chapman spent six weeks on the disabled list after suffering an ankle/Achilles injury. He has been working on his delivery for much of that time after he gave up two earned runs and was able to record just one on May 22. The 34-year-old said he has made some mechanical changes that have given him more confidence in his fastball.
DJ LeMahieu tied his season high with three hits Saturday, including a leadoff home run. It was his first leadoff homer of the season, 15th of his career and fourth for the Yankees.
“It was great, it really was,” Boone said. “He just gets on base at such a high level. I really enjoyed watching his at-bat, especially the way he understood that Aaron (the umpire) was behind him. In big situations, watching him work the bats with that in mind was impressive.”
Giancarlo Stanton, who was placed on the disabled list Tuesday with left Achilles tendinitis, has not started baseball, Aaron Boone said.
“He is doing well. I mean, you know, not much yet,” Boone said. “I know he’s making progress.”