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#pounditSunday, June 26, 2022

Yankees teammate compares Nestor Cortes Jr. to former All-Star pitcher

Nestor Cortes Jr. smiling

Aug 28, 2021; Oakland, California, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Nestor Cortes Jr. (65) sits in the dugout during the sixth inning against the Oakland Athletics at RingCentral Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Nestor Cortes Jr. doesn’t throw with high velocity, and isn’t a physically-imposing presence on the mound. Yet he’s still effective by messing with hitters’ timing and throwing with a variety of different arm angles.

In an era where craftiness and location is at more of a premium, it’s hard to find many players pitching like Cortes does. That may be why one of Cortes’ teammates had to look back into the past to find a suitable comparison.

Speaking to reporters following Sunday’s 5-1 win over the Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson compared Cortes’ game to that of a former teammate when asked about what it was like playing defense behind Cortes during the game.

“I feel like I could barely even get from the dugout to the field in time, he’s ready to go,” Donaldson said. “It almost reminded me of a former teammate of mine, Mark Buehrle.

“Just getting it going, changing speeds, getting ground balls, action early. [Cortes] forced [the White Sox] to start swinging the bat.”

Buehrle is not a comparison to take lightly.

In 2023, the former pitcher will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot for a third straight year. The southpaw pitched to a 3.81 ERA with 1,870 strikeouts and 214 wins during his career and threw a perfect game.

Like Buerhle, Cortes does not throw hard, yet has found incredible success with his deception and overall athleticism.

In seven starts this season, Cortes has an American League-leading 1.35 ERA, along with a 0.85 WHIP and 49 strikeouts. But Cortes has been pitching this way since last season as well.

In 93 innings in 2021, the 27-year-old had a 2.90 ERA and struck out 103 batters with a 1.075 WHIP.

If he continues pitching at this pace, Cortes will likely be an All-Star and could challenge for a Cy Young Award.

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