The 5 Best Yankees Mustaches: Nestor Cortes Jr.
With the latest Yankee- Matt Carpenter- sporting some hair above the lip, let's take this week to look at the best Yankees mustaches!
Before the Mustache:
Nestor Cortes Jr. was born in Cuba, moved to the USA at just 7 months old, and began playing baseball when he was 4 while living in Hialeah, Florida. He pitched for his high school team and committed to play baseball at nearby Florida International University (University Park, FL). However, after getting drafted in the 36th round of the 2013 MLB First Year Player Draft- and being offered a $85,000 signing bonus- Cortes opted out of college to pursue a career in the MLB.
Nestor would spend the next 5 years (2013-2017) with the New York Yankees, making it up to Triple-A in 2017, where he pitched to a 2.42 ERA over 11 starts. However, Nestor would soon be gone from the Yankees as a Rule 5 pick to the Baltimore Orioles. He would make his MLB debut on March 31st, 2018 but after posting a 7.71 ERA over 4 appearances, he was returned to the Yankees on April 13th. During his time in Baltimore, Nestor did rock some facial hair on the chin. However, the mustache would wait.
Nestor spent the rest of 2018 in the minor leagues and stayed with the Yankees through the 2019 season. He would pitch in 33 games at the Major League level to the tune of a 5.67 ERA. That November, Nestor Cortes would be traded to the Seattle Mariners for international bonus money. It was in Seattle that Nestor would adopt the whole beard. However, Nestor would last just 7.2 innings in Seattle for the 2020 season. He was then released and became a free agent.
Ultimately, that brought Nestor back to the Yankees, again...again. In his 3rd stint, Nestor started the season clean shaven and in Triple-A. However, by July 28th, 2021 Nestor was back up to the MLB and was rocking his mustache for the first time.
Career Stats (before the Mustache): 42 Games Pitched, 5 Wins (2 Losses), 6.72 ERA (66 ERA+), 79.0 Innings, 97 Hits, 80 K's, 38 Walks, and a 1.709 WHIP.
After the Mustache:
You can probably credit the evolution of Nestor Cortes Jr. to a variety of things: years of experience, learning how to 'pitch' and not 'throw', taking pitching techniques from different organizations, whatever.
However, the most important change in his life was his growing a mustache while in Triple-A with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders. That mustache changed everything.
Since making it back into the MLB with the Yankees in 2021, Nestor Cortes Jr. has gone from a spot-starter/long relief arm into a fully-fledged and pretty darn good starting pitcher.
In 2021, Nestor pitched to a 2.90 ERA over 22 games (14 starts) and 93.0 innings with 103 K's, a 1.075 WHIP, and a 148 ERA+.
In 2022, Nestor is pitching to a 1.70 ERA over 9 games (all starts) and 53.0 innings with 61 K's, a 0.849 WHIP, and a 221 ERA+. He's currently 2nd by the ESPN/Bill James Cy Young predictor (behind Justin Verlander), is 2nd on the Yankees in terms of bWAR (+2.2), and 2nd on the Yankees in terms of fWAR (+1.6).
Long live the mustache!
Check back tomorrow as I highlight another great Yankees player who donned the pinstripes and the mustache!