Nstor Cortes Jr. has been a member of the Yankees since 2013, except for a couple months in Baltimore and a shortened season in Seattle. In all these years, he couldnt secure a spot in New Yorks staff. The former 36th-round pick simply wasnt good enough.In 2021, however, Cortes looks much, much better. His control and command are both dramatically improved, and he uses deception, five different offerings, quick pitches, several windups, and every surprise in his bag of tricks to succeed.Thats the key word. To this point, Cortes has succeeded, even though he had to settle for a minor-league contract in the offseason with only a non-roster invitation to spring training. He had no guarantees of making any impact, but in 16 games this season since being recalled at the end of June, he has a 2.77 ERA, 64 strikeouts Roy White Jersey, and a 1.09 WHIP in 61.2 frames. Per whiff rate, Cortes is thriving without a truly elite pitch, but hes more than met the challenge of the job with five good, usable ones.How so? Well, the left-hander throws a four-seam fastball , a slider , a curveball , a changeup , and a sinker. Each and every one of those pitches has a whiff rate no lower than 21 percent, but no higher than 24.7 percent. Theyre all good enough to make hitters look foolish:Cortes has so many pitches, angles, deliveries, and tricks, that he is very difficult to square up, evidenced by his 78th-percentile hard-hit rate. And even though none of those pitches misses bats at an elite rate, that doesnt mean they arent good. In fact, three of them have an expected wOBA or xwOBA below.300.Cortes uses his fastball the most, and its been extremely effective, with a.165 batting average against and a.221 wOBA. It isnt fluky, as his xwOBA is.226. He is commanding it very well, and he has been doing so all season long. As Jesse noted the other day Domingo German Jersey, its been one of the best pitches for the Yankees in 2021.While ERA , FIP , and Statcasts expected ERA love Cortes, other run prevention metrics such as expected FIP , and Skill Interactive ERA only like him. Either way, he has been a breath of fresh air for a Yankees staff that has been decimated by injuries and COVID-19 all year long.Cortes wont wow you with otherworldly strikeout rates, even though his current 25.6-percent mark is in the 63rd percentile. However, Cortes really thrives in preventing hard contact. As previously noted, his hard-hit rate is in good territory in comparison with the rest of the league, but consider this: his xwOBA is in the 90th percentile, his xBA is in the 87th percentile, his xSLG is in the 91st percentile, and his 4.8-percent barrel rate is in the top 10 of the league.Simply put, when hitters make contact on Corts, they dont inflict much damage. He has a.308 expected wOBA on contact, or xwOBAcon https://www.newyorkystore.com/139-Yankees_Lou_Trivino_Jersey, a number that ranks him in the 90th percentile in MLB.Corts is basically thriving with mediocre fastball velocity , without a pitch with more than 25-percent whiff rate, and without elite spin or chase rates. Its truly baffling, and it makes you wonder whether this is sustainable for the rest of his career. Thats debatable, at least to this extent, but for now in 2021, the Yankees are enjoying the ride.
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