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Yankees place Nestor Cortes back on the IL with shoulder injury

The lefty was activated for exactly one start before apparently reaggravating the shoulder injury that sidelined him for all of July.

MLB: AUG 07 Yankees at White Sox Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Just when it seemed like things could hardly get worse for the Yankees’ rotation, the team was forced to put lefty Nestor Cortes back on the 15-day injured list with an apparent reaggravation of the rotator cuff strain that kept him out for all of June and July. Rotation options Jhony Brito and Randy Vasquez have both been recalled from Triple-A, while reliever Ian Hamilton will reportedly serve as the opener for Friday night’s game against the Miami Marlins.

Cortes was initially diagnosed with a strain of his left rotator cuff in early June and wound up spending more than two months on the IL. He returned to the Majors just last weekend, providing New York with a big boost while striking out eight Astros over four innings of work.

Apparently the lefty began feeling soreness after that return start, similar to the kind he felt back in May. He told reporters he’ll be shut down for at least a month before he and the team decide how to proceed — if the Yankees fall further out of playoff contention, though, he could be shut down for good.

The news could hardly come at a worse time for New York, who also just lost Carlos Rodon to a hamstring injury and Domingo German to the restricted list, and they may be forced to remove Luis Severino from the rotation after several disastrous outings in a row. The starting staff is now Gerrit Cole, Clarke Schmidt and basically nothing but question marks. Brito and Vasquez figure to get extended auditions, while other Minor League options like Will Warren and Clayton Beeter could be called up for their MLB debuts.

None of those names inspire a ton of confidence, though, especially not for a team desperate to stay within shouting distance of a Wild Card spot in the AL. (New York enters play on Friday five back of the Blue Jays for the third and final slot.) After putting up a 2.44 ERA over 28 starts en route to his first All-Star nod last year, the Yankees were relying on Cortes entering 2023, but injuries have sidetracked him ever since a hamstring strain during spring training. He’s thrown just 63.1 innings with a 4.97 ERA this season.63.1 innings w