Nasty Nestor’s Nefarious Week

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“Nasty, nasty boys, don’t ever change,” sings Janet Jackson in her 1986 hit appropriately titled “Nasty,” off the album Control. Nestor Cortes has certainly been living up to his nickname, dealing for the red-hot Yankees in two starts in this Week that Was.

Cortes employs several different arm slots while pitching, and this has been rather effective for messing with hitters’ timing. The southpaw has a fastball that has averaged at 90.2 MPH this year, along with an effective cutter and slider. Opponents have been limited to a .137 batting average on the cutter, and a .206 average on the fastball.

Speaking of control, Cortes threw 99 pitches, 69 of them for strikes. The White Sox are a team that hit left handed pitchers fairly well, with an .779 OPS against southpaws. In Sunday’s start in Chicago, Cortes rang that lineup for 13 swings and misses, eight of them off the fastball. Those whiffs contributed to a 33% CSW (called strikes plus whiffs) on the lefthander’s arsenal. Slider location was especially fantastic in this start; he threw it 20 times, and was good for ten called strikes. He pitched eight strong innings overall, giving up just one earned run off three hits. He walked none, and struck out seven.

This performance follows another strong start on Monday, where the 27-year-old held the Rangers without a base hit for 7 1/3 innings at Yankee Stadium, giving up just a bloop single before his day ended. Cortes hasn’t allowed more than two runs in any of his starts, and also leads the American League in ERA, at 1.35, through 40 innings pitched.

“The only nasty thing I like is a nasty groove,” according to Janet Jackson, but we also like Cortes’ nasty pitching as well.

Notable Performances

Giancarlo Stanton’s two homer night on Thursday was certainly one to behold. Stanton crushed a pair of two-run homers for his first multi-homer effort of the season, and he had a six-RBI night overall. Stanton leads the majors in both wOBA and xWOBA, as he’s been quite literally, clobbering the ball. The 32-year-old has gone deep five times in his last nine games since May 1, and is fourth in all of MLB with 10 homers, two homers behind his teammate, Aaron Judge.

Speaking of Judge, yes, he’s still mashing! On Friday against the White Sox, Judge went 2-for-3 with a solo home run, three runs scored, and two walks. The star outfielder – and current MLB home run leader with 12 round-trippers, has homered three times over his last 16 at-bats. Judge and Stanton are leading the Yankees to one of their strongest starts in franchise history.

Starling Marte swiped his fifth stolen base while hitting a double and a triple against the Seattle Mariners on Saturday night. He finished the night 3-for-4, and was just a homer away from a cycle. In his last 15 games, he’s slashing a noticeable .306/.317/.484 including a homer, five RBI, and a stolen base in 29 plate appearances.

George Kirby made his major league debut on Sunday; the 24-year-old right-hander wasn’t afraid of any big league hitters. Kirby allowed just four singles over six impressive innings of shutout baseball against the Rays. Command of his pitches was especially on point as accumulated six punchouts on the day and allowed no walks.

Christian Yelich hit for the cycle for the third time of his career on Wednesday – interestingly enough, all of Yelich’s cycles have been against the Reds. He doubled in the first inning, homering in the third inning, singled in the fifth inning. With arguably the hardest part of the cycle with not a lot of time left, Yelich put a capstone on the evening with a triple in the ninth inning. The resurgence of the former NL MVP has been greatly anticipated; in his past 15 games, he’s slashing .316/.426/.632 including four homers, 15 runs scored, 12 RBI, and two stolen bases.

Yordan Álvarez clobbered a pair of home runs Thursday afternoon for his 10th career multi-homer performance, in an Astros victory over the Twins. He also went deep in Friday’s game versus the Nationals He’s hitting incredibly well; he carries forth a stellar .269/.374/.615 triple-slash line with 21 runs scored, 11 home runs and 21 RBI across 123 plate appearances.

Injury Report

A big blow to the Marlins: on Sunday, they placed lefty pitcher Jesús Luzardo on the 15-day injured list (retroactive to May 12) with a left forearm strain. “It was more like a little soreness,” Luzardo said himself. “It was kind of sore, and tough to bounce back. We just want to be smart and get on top of it.” Sounds like this is a precautionary move to calm his arm down, and get back to 100% health.

Austin Meadows was removed from Sunday’s game against the Orioles, after one inning where he saw one plate appearance. Before Sunday, he missed the Tigers’ previous two games with an inner ear infection and dizziness that has caused him vertigo and spatial disorientation.

Dodgers veteran southpaw Clayton Kershaw was scratched from his scheduled start against the Phillies on Friday; it was later revealed that he was placed on the 15-day injured list with right SI joint inflammation. Kershaw told reporters on Friday that he underwent an MRI exam which did not reveal any structural damage. On Sunday, manager Dave Roberts said Kershaw felt some soreness, but could throw a bullpen as soon as Wednesday. It looks as if his stint on the injured list should be short.

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Honor Roll

Zac Gallen (7 IP, 0 ER, 5 H, 0 BB, 7 K on Sunday), Pete Alonso (3-for-5, 2 HR (7), 5 RBI, 2 R on Sunday), Jose Quintana (6 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 4 BB, 5 K on Monday), Brandon Drury (2-for-5, HR, 3 RBI on Monday), Mike Trout (3-for-4, 3 H, 3 R, 3 RBI, BB on Tuesday), Tarik Skubal (7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 5 K on Tuesday), Orlando Arcia (3-for-4, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R on Wednesday), Shane McClanahan (7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 11 K, 1 BB on Wednesday), Taijuan Walker (7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K on Thursday), Mark Canha (3-for-4, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI on Thursday), Pablo Lopez (7 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 11 K on Friday), Andrew Benintendi (3-for-4, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, 3B on Friday), Jose Siri (3-for-5, 3 H, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI on Saturday), Sean Manaea (7 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 12 K on Saturday)

Batting Around

Twins infielder/outfielder Nick Gordon channeled his father during Wednesday’s game by entering the game as a position player pitcher in the top of the ninth inning. This was the first career pitching appearance for Gordon. The Twins eventually fell to the Astros, 11-3, but Gordon fired a scoreless inning, allowing just a single to Jeremy Peña. Gordon threw 16 pitches, nine of them for strikes, and was actually throwing quite hard (for a position player), in the upper 80s. Perhaps Gordon was just seeking some validation for a job well done; as he walked off the mound in the middle of the ninth, he attempted to fist bump the umpire, who was just doing a routine check for foreign substances. With this appearance, Nick and his brother, Dee Strange-Gordon, the sons of former MLB pitcher Tom “Flash” Gordon, have both appeared as position player pitchers this season.

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