Baltimore Orioles: Is Nestor Cortes hurting the team?

Nestor Cortes Jr. gave up the decisive runs, specifically a grand slam in the ninth inning of tonight’s Baltimore Orioles game against Toronto. But that’s not why I ask if he’s hurting the O’s. In fact, perhaps the better question is whether or not the Orioles are hurting themselves by keeping Cortes on the roster – but more on that in a moment.

Dylan Bundy turned in his third consecutive quality start for the Orioles, and the third consecutive quality start in which he missed out on a win that he deserved. Bundy’s line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 10 K. It’s strange to call someone a hard-luck loser for a team that lost 7-1 but that would describe Bundy’s outing tonight. Unequivocally, he pitched well enough to win.

Bundy made one bad pitch – and it ended up being a two-run homer by Pearce, giving Toronto a 2-0 lead in the third. However the O’s came right back in the bottom of the inning on a Machado solo homer to cut the lead in half. But that’s as close as they got.

Cortes inherited a bases-loaded situation in the ninth, and promptly walked in a run to make the score 3-1. That brought Donaldson to the plate, with the bases still loaded. And unfortunately for the O’s, they were unable to walk that one last tight rope, and Donaldson deposited that ball in the stands. The grand slam gave Toronto a 7-1 victory. The final score obviously isn’t indicative of how close the game was in truth, but it goes as a six-run loss.

Going back to Nestor Cortes, we know that the Orioles under Dan Duquette have been big on the Rule 5 draft. Obviously they also have Anthony Santander (who’s Rule 5 status expires next month) and Pedro Araujo on the roster as Rule 5 draftees. And we know their history of Rule 5 players since 2012.

Araujo’s been fairly solid thus far, and Santander’s been great. Cortes has had some struggles, and quite frankly if the Orioles could send him down and keep him they probably would. But they can’t do that, or he goes back to the Yankees’ organization.

Is this mentality not potentially hurting the team, however? The fact that Cortes was the last one left on the bench in yesterday’s 12-inning game is telling. The O’s would have rather used guys who were over-taxed.

Again, this isn’t a knock on Cortes as much as it might sound like it is. I do think he has a promising career ahead of him in the big leagues. But the road’s very tough from his standpoint right now. Wouldn’t it do the player (Cortes) justice by letting him go back and further season himself in the minors? Consequently, would that not do the team justice in terms of giving them a roster spot that was more interchangeable?

I’m not suggesting that the O’s shouldn’t participate in the Rule 5 draft. I’m saying that they probably shouldn’t be quite as stubborn about keeping the players they select as they are. If someone isn’t cutting it, that’s not a knock on him. It just means he might not have been ready. So is it serving anyone by keeping him?

The series with Toronto continues tomorrow night. Andrew Cashner gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Aaron Sanchez. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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