Nestor Cortes’ weird ‘pump fake’ stunt leaves batters and fans baffled

Yankees pitcher Nestor Cortes in action against Cleveland on April 14, 2024, at Progressive Field.
John Allen
Monday April 15, 2024

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Nestor Cortes stirred up a rare moment of bewilderment on Sunday as he introduced an unconventional move on the baseball field that left fans and commentators puzzled.

During the second inning of the New York Yankees’ clash with the Cleveland Guardians, Nestor Cortes showcased one of the most peculiar deliveries witnessed in recent memory. With his right leg suspended in mid-air during his windup, the southpaw abruptly halted his motion, coming to a complete standstill. Then, in an unexpected turn, he mimicked a throwing motion before seamlessly resuming his windup and unleashing a sweeping pitch toward Guardians’ second baseman, Andres Gimenez.

The motive behind Nestor Cortes’ unorthodox maneuver remains a subject of speculation. Whether it was a pure bluff or a strategic element within a larger deceptive plan remains unclear. Nonetheless, the tactic did yield some impact, as Gimenez managed only to foul off the pitch harmlessly.

Nestor Cortes’ unconventional move swiftly ignited a storm of reactions across the internet, with many questioning its legality and effectiveness. While pitchers occasionally employ subtle hesitations or pauses in their deliveries to disrupt hitters’ timing, executing a full-fledged pump fake is virtually unheard of in baseball.

Unorthodox Nestor Cortes turns Yankees’ rotation anchor

nestor-cortes-new-york-yankees
AP

Nestor Cortes defies the typical image of a dominant MLB pitcher. Standing at a modest 5-foot-11, the southpaw has never relied on overpowering velocity, with his average fastball never reaching 92 mph in a single season.

Despite being drafted by the New York Yankees in 2013, Nestor Cortes’ path to the Bronx was anything but straightforward. He was initially selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the 2017 Rule 5 Draft, severing ties with the Yankees. However, his journey took another turn when the Orioles designated him for assignment, leading to a brief stint with the Seattle Mariners. Luckily for Yankees fans, their pursuit of Nestor Cortes wasn’t over, as they eventually reacquired him in 2020.

The pitcher spent his first two seasons in New York as a bullpen arm, with limited success. But then came a remarkable transformation. In 2020, Nestor Cortes flourished as a starter, posting a stellar 2.90 ERA. This breakout season was followed by an even more impressive showing in 2021, where he logged a career-high 158.1 innings pitched and maintained a remarkable 2.44 ERA.

Unfortunately, a rotator cuff strain derailed Nestor Cortes’ 2023 season, limiting him to just 12 starts. This year, he’s determined to reclaim his place as a vital cog in the Yankees’ rotation, especially with the absence of ace Gerrit Cole.

Following a pair of rough outings on the road against the Houston Astros and Arizona Diamondbacks, Nestor Cortes bounced back in a big way on Monday. He delivered a masterful performance against the Miami Marlins, tossing eight scoreless innings and securing a crucial victory. While he encountered a hiccup against Cleveland’s Jose RamĂ­rez, surrendering a two-run homer, Cortes showcased his resilience. He composed himself and helped the Yankees preserve a 4-2 lead.

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