Nestor Cortes Jr.’s Absurd Psyche-Out Wind-Up Should Be Illegal


Robert McGreevy Contributor
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Yankees pitcher Nestor Cortes Jr. debuted an absurd pitching wind-up during Sunday’s matchup against the Cleveland Guardians. 

The unorthodox move had him lifting his right leg, then feigning a plant-and-throw, pump-faking the throw and not actually firing the ball off for another second or two after the fake. 

It’s one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen on the baseball diamond. It may also have fooled his opponent, Cleveland Guardians infielder Andres Gimenez, as he fouled off the Cortes sweeper. 

Frankly, this motion from Cortes — who’s known for his wacky wind-ups — goes a little too far. This is a tactic which is more appropriate for a fictional version of basketball, a made-up sport from the Universal Studios comedy “BASEketball,” in which players can try to distract their opponents mid-at-bat. 

Cortes has already drawn heat for his weird wind-ups, but none of them have been more blatantly an attempt to throw the batter off than this one.

I’m fine with him changing up his timing to keep hitters guessing — that’s part of the game — but this is bush league. The fact that an outright pump fake isn’t a rule violation is ridiculous. (RELATED: Shohei Ohtani’s Former Interpreter Surrenders To Law Enforcement)

Apparently, the fake out wasn’t illegal — umpires didn’t call a balk on him — but it definitely should be. Hitting a baseball is hard enough: an MLB hitter has just milliseconds to decide whether to swing at a pitch. Adding in a calculation of whether the pitcher will actually release the ball would make their decision-making process next to impossible.

Cortes’ antics didn’t ultimately lead to a win: he gave up four runs in four innings and the Yankees lost 8-7. It’s a cute parlor trick, Nestor, but call me when it wins you some ballgames.