Yankees: Looking Back at 7 of New York’s Cult Heroes

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The most recent Yankees fan favorite, this reliever made his mark in one season.

Yankees: P Nestor Cortes Jr.

Last season, Nestor Cortes Jr. quickly became one of the most beloved Yankees. The unheralded relief pitcher had a strong stretch of appearances, and was one of the many players who stepped in after injuries decimated the 2019 roster.

For a month or so, Cortes was wildly effective. His ability to change arm slots and his windup fooled hitters for a few weeks. While his magic would run out rather quickly, Cortes was the talk of the town at one point.

His best stretch came in July when he posted a 2.31 ERA in 11.2 innings. He successfully followed Chad Green when he was in the opener role and performed well in a handful of key situations when the Yankees were desperate to limit their bullpen usage. Again, Cortes’ gimmick didn’t last long, as he ended his lone season in pinstripes with a 5.67 ERA in 33 appearances.

In today’s game, Cortes is so much different than any other reliever on the Yankees. New York features flamethrower after flamethrower in their bullpen. To see Cortes toe the rubber was fun to watch last season.

Cortes’ unique style on the mound was likely behind the fanfare last summer. With his struggles down the stretch, New York left Cortes off the postseason roster and traded him to Seattle after the season ended.

Still, Cortes’ run will endure, as he was one of the many players who were able to step up as the team was bitten viciously by the injury bug.