The most innings Nestor Cortes Jr. has ever thrown in a big league season is 93. He hit that number last year as he also set a career high in starts, finishing his validating season with a 2.90 ERA.
This year, the ERA is down to 2.31 heading into Sunday, but he hasn’t been as sharp recently. Entering Sunday’s start against the Astros, two of Cortes’ previous three outings lasted just 4.1 innings, and he gave up four earned runs and multiple homers in both of them.
“He made some mistakes,” Boone said of Cortes’ relatively rough days in Minnesota and Tampa Bay. “Probably just a little command related. They made him pay with the long ball. I think it’s just being a little crisper. If he does that, he has a great chance to go out and be really successful.”
The start on Sunday is also his 14th of the year, matching the mark he set last year. The All-Star break will provide a respite in mid-July, but until then, the Yankees are going to explore ways to lighten Cortes’ load. The team has not had an off-day until June 13, and their next one isn’t until July 4.
“We might drop in a sixth [starter] this week,” Boone said. “We’re working through that right now. That is at least in consideration. It’s more just, going through this stretch and trying to think big picture. There’s a good chance we do that in the Oakland series.”
Jordan Montgomery is on schedule to pitch the first game of that series with the Athletics on Monday. If they follow their current rotation, it would be Jameson Taillon on Tuesday and Luis Severino on Wednesday, though the team’s game notes list the starting pitcher as TBA for both of those games.
Heading into this season, Severino had only thrown 18 MLB innings since 2019 due to injury, and the Yankees understandably want to be careful about taxing his surgically-repaired right arm. After hinting at the addition of a sixth starter during the upcoming series against the A’s, Boone was asked if that might turn out to be JP Sears.
“It could be JP, yeah,” the manager answered.
Sears has pitched three times for the Yankees this year and 10 times for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders at Triple-A. In his only start at the big-league level, the 26-year-old lefty flung five innings against the Orioles, shutting them out, notching five strikeouts and picking up a win.
When it comes to giving Cortes, Severino or any other pitcher some extra days between starts, Boone cited the eye test, their stuff and good old fashioned conversations as criteria. Boone mentioned that in the past, Severino has pitched on seven or eight days of rest, and he does not have an innings limitation in mind for Cortes.
“It’s kind of a little bit of everything,” Boone said of his potential reasoning for giving a guy some extra rest. “Listening to where they’re at physically by measurables, and by listening to them too.”
Clarke Schmidt, who was optioned to Triple-A on June 23, must remain there for 15 days before he can return to the big club.
NO NO-NO HANGOVER
After getting no-hit by a trio of Astros’ pitchers on Saturday, the Yankees did not take batting practice on the field on Sunday. Getting no-hit is obviously an anomaly for any team, but for one going as well as the Yankees, it’s about as much of a non-issue as a non-issue can be according to the man in charge of the lineups.
“We’ll be ready to play and go out there and try to get a W,” Boone said. “I’m not worried in the least about how we’ll react. I know we’re strong. [We’ll] turn the page from yesterday, go out and get after it today and hope to salvage a series.”
Aroldis Chapman pitched on Sunday in Somerset, and Domingo German is scheduled to do the same on Tuesday. Jonathan Loaisiga, who threw a bullpen session at Yankee Stadium on Saturday morning, is going to throw another one on Monday and Wednesday. The Yankees plan on him facing live hitters by the weekend, according to Boone.