After a rainout Friday night, Major League Baseball's ERA leader Nestor Cortes will get another chance at continuing his remarkable run Saturday afternoon when the New York Yankees host the Chicago White Sox. Friday's game will be made up Sunday as part of a single-admission doubleheader.
Cortes (2-1, 1.35 ERA), who was New York's 36th-round pick in the 2013 draft, has allowed two earned runs in his past 16 starts. That matches teammate Luis Severino (2018) for the Yankees' second-longest streak of allowing three runs or fewer. The record is more than a century old, 20 by Russ Ford (1910-1911).
The 5-foot-11 left-hander's last two appearances were among the most impressive of his 23 career starts. On May 9, he came within five outs of a no-hitter against the Texas Rangers before settling for a one-hit, 7 1/3-inning performance in a 1-0 victory. He followed that Sunday afternoon by allowing one run on three hits in the longest outing of his career, eight complete innings, in a 5-1 win in Chicago.
This will mark his second career start against the White Sox.
Cortes is approaching the one-year anniversary of his second stint with the Yankees, for whom he went 5-1 with a 5.67 ERA in 33 appearances in 2019. After being traded for future considerations to Seattle preceding the 2020 pandemic season, he was wildly ineffective for the Mariners. He returned to the Yankees on May 30 and since then owns a 2.44 ERA in 133 innings.
"The chances I got, and the ability that I can go out there and pitch every five days, has been incredible for me," Cortes said. "As long as I can go out there and compete and give my team a chance, I'm happy."
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said, "He's been one of the best pitchers in the game, not only this year, but even going back to last year. He's been consistent with us, reliable and continues to get better and better."
Cortes has allowed one earned run or less five times this season, helping him gain a slight edge over Houston's Justin Verlander in the American League ERA race.
Cortes is pitching after a rare loss for the Yankees, who tied the score with a ninth-inning rally Thursday night in Baltimore before Lucas Luetge allowed a game-winning three-run homer to Anthony Santander in the 9-6 decision. It ended New York's four-game winning streak and marked just their fifth loss in 28 games.
The White Sox, including their frustrating encounter against Cortes, have won 10 of their past 16. Since Sunday, Chicago won three of five in Kansas City, capping the series with a 14-hit attack Thursday in a 7-4 win that pushed the Sox back to the .500 mark for the seventh time this month.
Luis Robert hit a two-run homer and drove in four runs Thursday and is hitting .373 (28-for-75) with four homers and 14 RBIs in his past 18 games. Tim Anderson is hitting .390 (30-for-77) in his past 18 contests.
"We just take it day by day. We really try not to pay too much attention to too much stuff," Anderson said.
Dallas Keuchel (2-3, 5.54), who took a no-decision against the Yankees last Saturday after tossing five scoreless innings, opens the series and is 4-4 with a 2.06 ERA in 10 career starts against New York.
Since getting tagged for 10 runs in an 11-1 loss at Cleveland on April 20, Keuchel owns a 2.70 ERA in his past four starts.