Yankee Stadium was rocking after two innings of ALCS Game 4. The New York Yankees scored three runs off Lance McCullers Jr. to take an early lead and had Nestor Cortes on the mound to pitch behind that momentum.
But then came the third inning. Something appeared to be wrong. Cortes was missing his spots. His velocity was down. He walked No. 9 hitter Martin Maldonado and then a struggling Jose Altuve (1-for-26 this postseason) to begin the inning.
Then he surrendered the game-tying home run to Jeremy Peña on a hanger. Manager Aaron Boone checked on Cortes with an athletic trainer after the Maldonado walk, but the left-hander said he was OK and remained in the game.
Two batters later he was done, and now fans are worried he’s dealing with a potential injury. He already was only going to get one start in this series, but now this might be the last fans see of him in 2022 even if the Yankees were to miraculously force a Game 7 (in that scenario, maybe he’d be available for an inning or two).
Even worse, this could be a worry for 2023. Declining velocity in the middle of a start almost always portends danger.
Is Yankees’ Nestor Cortes injured after leaving ALCS Game 4?
Of Cortes’ 55 pitches, only 28 were strikes. He walked three batters and struck out only two. If we’re being honest, his ALDS starts weren’t exactly encouraging, either. In two outings (10 innings), he allowed three earned runs on nine hits and four walks while striking out only five.
He had velocity dips in the beginning of each of those outings before building himself back up to his normal figures. This time around, he witnessed a very obvious decline between the second and third inning.
The TBS broadcast pointed out that his mechanics may have been off, too. That could also be a result of him compensating if he’s indeed dealing with an injury.
Whether serious or not, this is an added gut-punch to the likely end of the Yankees’ season. The hits keep on coming. As of now, the Yankees are calling it a groin injury.
On a night when the starting pitching finally got run support in the form of a multi-run early lead, something that was yet to happen in this series, the only consistent strength broke down.
Put us out of our misery. Please.