Nestor Cortes unveils nasty changeup, anchors Yankees to shutout victory

Nestor Cortes is in action during eight shutout innings in the Yankees' 7-0 win vs. the Marlins at Yankee Stadium on April 8, 2024.

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Nestor Cortes silenced the Miami Marlins on Monday night, delivering a masterful eight-inning, two-hit shutout that propelled the Yankees to a dominant 7-0 victory at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees pitcher dominated the Miami lineup with his fastball (42) and cutter (31), incorporating a blend of sweepers (15) and changeups (11). The last one by Nestor Cortes led to ‘three whiffs, two foul balls, and a called strike.”

Manager Aaron Boone showered Nestor Cortes with praise after the game, lauding his pinpoint control and consistent ability to locate his pitches throughout the contest. Boone singled out the effectiveness of Nestor Cortes’ changeup as a key factor in his success. He described Cortes’s outing as both efficient and dominant, highlighting its importance to the team’s resounding victory.

“His command was really good, I thought he was getting the ball to spots that he wanted to all night long,” the manager. “Changeup was a factor for him tonight, but, obviously, really efficient and a big eight-inning start for us. It was good to see him feature it enough to mix it into the gameplan, I thought he did a really good job using it and making it a factor.”

The Yankees skipper revealed that the changeup had been a strategic focal point before the game, emphasizing its importance in their game plan. He expressed satisfaction with how Nestor Cortes implemented the pitch, crediting him for seamlessly integrating it into their strategy and transforming it into a potent weapon on the mound.

Prior to this game, Nestor Cortes had relied less heavily on the changeup, throwing it only twice in his first two starts and a total of 30 times throughout the 2023 season. However, recognizing the Marlins’ lineup’s vulnerability to off-speed pitches, Nestor Cortes actively chose to incorporate the changeup more prominently into his repertoire.

Nestor Cortes is back to dugout after eight shutout innings in the Yankees' 7-0 win vs. the Marlins at Yankee Stadium on April 8, 2024.

Looking back on his performance, Nestor Cortes emphasized his successful execution of the changeup in critical situations. He stressed the importance of precise location, particularly when targeting the lower and outer edges of the strike zone. This newfound focus on the changeup proved to be a game-changer for Nestor Cortes, showcasing his ability to adapt and dominate with an expanded pitching arsenal.

“I got into counts where I was able to throw it and I executed it really well, I think that was the biggest thing today: executing the changeup down and away was pinpoint so it was good,” the yankees star said.

Nestor Cortes credits cutter alongside changeup for dominant start

While wholeheartedly agreeing with manager Aaron Boone’s assessment of the changeup, Nestor Cortes revealed another pitch played a vital role in his masterful performance.

Nestor Cortes acknowledged the consistent effectiveness of his changeup, but also highlighted the importance of his cutter in achieving dominance. He emphasized the pinpoint accuracy and location of the cutter as key factors in its success. Despite a slight decrease in velocity, Nestor Cortes attributed a significant portion of his effectiveness to the cutter, which allowed him to navigate through the lineup with precision.

“I thought the changeup was really good tonight throughout the whole game,” he said. “The cutter was really pinpoint for me today, I think that’s what kinda got me over the top. My [velocity] was a little down, but I feel like the cutter was in a good spot. And I was throwing it into good places so that’s kind of what got me through.”

Nestor Cortes is back to dugout after eight shutout innings in the Yankees' 7-0 win vs. the Marlins at Yankee Stadium on April 8, 2024.

Statistical analysis confirmed the impact of the cutter. Statcast data revealed Nestor Cortes generated seven whiffs, three foul balls, and four called strikes on a total of 31 cutters thrown – a remarkable 35% called strike-whiff percentage.  The results were undeniable: only two hits surrendered, no walks issued, and not a single Miami runner reached second base.

Following the game, Boone expressed his satisfaction with Nestor Cortes pitching into the eighth inning, securing 24 outs. He described this feat as “impressive” and highlighted its significance for the team, especially considering two more games remained before the upcoming off day, providing much-needed rest for the bullpen.

Fully aware of the workload the bullpen had already endured, Nestor Cortes acknowledged the importance of extending his outing, aiming to alleviate some pressure from the relievers. While not entering the game with a specific target inning count in mind, Nestor Cortes remained focused on maximizing his efficiency and securing outs, a mission he undeniably accomplished.

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