The New York Yankees have risen to the top of the American League in 2022, becoming the first team in the junior circuit to reach 20 wins. Mostly, it’s been the rotation and defense that deserve credit for the rapid rise, with the team’s usually boisterous offense lagging behind.
Still … that pitching and defense … is so good it’s got fans wondering about whether this slap-dash, mostly-powerless team is really the Yankees’ best shot at title No. 28 in years.
Partially, the current era of good feelings has been ushered in because fans love the individual personalities on this team. A dominant, faceless champion is one thing, but an early-season juggernaut led by Jose Trevino and Nestor Cortes Jr. is quite another.
You go out there and patch your holes with Freddie Freeman. The Yanks will take their chances with a 27-year-old Funk Bomb from Hialeah, FL.
Cortes Jr. hasn’t just been a feel-good story or an occasional splash, though. He’s legitimately been among the best pitchers in baseball since the start of 2021, sporting the best ERA in the American League with a minimum of 120 innings pitched.
Coming into 2022, the one thing he hadn’t provided was length. On Monday, he was pushed for 7.1 innings and 103 pitches, allowing only a single hit to the final Rangers batter he faced.
After that exceptional start, Cortes Jr. again deflected attention away from his personal accomplishment and focused Yankee fans on the team’s singular goal: a championship, as soon as possible.
Yankees’ Nestor Cortes Jr. is a perfect gift for fans on Instagram.
So, in a two-sentence span, Cortes Jr. hit on three major lovable points:
- Yankee for life
- World Series at all costs
- Humble; considers himself just a piece of the puzzle
Whatever mindset Nasty Nestor heads to the mound with appears to be the correct one, and the regression most fans fearfully predicted in August, September, and April still has not come to pass. In fact, every time you think he might take some sort of step back (it’s only natural!), he gets even better.
And he tops it all off by being … a beautiful human. After hopping off the mound for seven dominant, tunnel-vision innings, all he can think about is being someone who helps his teammates secure their season-long goal.
After all, what else is there beyond baseball? If there’s an alternate path, Cortes Jr. hasn’t thought of it yet.
Will there be bumps in Cortes Jr.’s personal road and the Yankees’ team path for the remainder of 2022? Almost certainly. Can’t guarantee it, but hard to envision otherwise.
But is there anyone you’d rather bet on regaining his footing than the affable, humble Nasty Nestor? Monday’s celebration post was just another example.