MLB insider urges Yankees to keep Nestor Cortes out of WBC national duty

Girlfriend Alondra taking a photo of Nestor Cortes during a Yankee away game.

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The Yankees have reportedly blocked starting pitcher Luis Severino from taking part in the World Baseball Classic. This effectively bars him from playing for the Dominican Republic’s baseball team. However, left-handed pitcher Nestor Cortes is allowed by the Yankees to play for Team USA.

Hector Gomez of Z101 Digita was the first to break the news that “Luis Severino won’t be pitching for the Dominican Republic in the 2023 World Baseball Classic because New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman won’t let him.”

Cashman told 670 The Score in Chicago:

“We support our players going [to the WBC], but when certain players, like Luis Severino, who’ve had an injury history the last few years … that’s not in our best interest,’’

“Having him pitch competitive, championship-contending World Baseball Classic innings in March versus preparatory innings [during spring training] in March for a long-haul season, it’s a decision I had to make, and I’m very comfortable making it.”

However, MLB columnist and author of “The Empire: The True Power Behind the New York Yankees” Bob Klapisch raised questions on this Yankees’ decision and asks why the same yardstick was not applied to Nestor Cortes. He wrote:

“If Cashman wants to apply the safety-first clause evenly, he’ll prohibit Nestor Cortes from joining Team USA. Nasty Nestor is coming off a career-high 170-inning season in 2022, including the post-season. That’s a 50 percent uptick from 2021, and an invitation to future trouble after ending last season with a groin injury.”

Luis Severino isn’t sitting out because he wants to. He’s been told to do so by the Yankees. Cashman decided that Severino’s health is more important for the team. Many see it as the only choice. Since 2019, Severino’s shoulder has been in and out of trouble. Even though he signed a $40 million contract for four years, he has only pitched in 26 regular season games in those four years. Also, the right-handed pitcher is more important to the Yankees than to the Dominican Republic’s WBC team.

However, the pitcher and the club haven’t always gotten along well. He spoke out against being put on the 60-day injured list last summer because of a lat strain. He also criticized Aaron Boone after Game 3 of the ALDS against Cleveland, when his team lost 6-5, for not using closer Clay Holmes.

The Yankees may be taking another risk with him by not allowing him to play for his national team. Severino will be a free agent after this season, so he could leave if he wants to. Cashman needs to stay on good terms with him in 2023.

On the other hand, Nestor Cortes ended last season’s playoffs with a left groin injury that made him leave the American League Championship Series Game 4 in the third inning. The New York Yankees lost 6-5 to the Houston Astros.

The timing of the WBC also is not ideal. It stops spring training and any injury to players would effectively impact a team’s readiness for MLB. Also, the Yankees will depend a lot on Severino in 2023 after Frankie Montas’ fitness problem persists. Even though Severino has had a lat strain in 2019, Tommy John surgery in 2020, and another lat strain in 2022, he is still only 29 years old and his average speed last year was 96.3 mph. Considering that Cashman’s reason for keeping Severino out of danger was a good one.

Nestor Cortes is more important for the Yankees

But Nestor Cortes is their No. 3 starter. He exhibited last year that he could handle any job. He was the Yankees’ best pitcher in the first half of the 1922 season, so he was chosen as an All-Star for the first time.

Nestor Cortes, according to Bob Klapisch, “was a master at controlling hitters’ bat speeds by mixing arm angles, release points, and leg kicks like a mad scientist.” Even though he threw 4-5 mph slower than Cole. he did this last season. Everyone liked The Nasty One, but in 2023, the more important question is whether or not he can do it again.

Nestor Cortes has a lot of skills. Age is also on his side. He is just 28. But it all depends on the injury to the groin that ruined his last game in 2022. It was very important but he failed to help the Yankees win. He lost the early 3-0 lead the Yankees had by letting Jeremy Pena hit a three-run home run in the third inning. Nestor Cortes was soon taken out of the game because of his groin issue.

Bob Klapisch believes, “both Nestor Cortes and Severino both need to be treated gently this spring; they’re 1 and 1-A on the Yankees’ Do Not Disturb list. So, my advice to Cashman is to fully play the role of the bad cop and keep them both out of the WBC. He’s probably mad at Severino, and he should know that Cortes is likely to feel the same way.”

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