The Yankees have reinstated both Jonathan Loaisiga and Nestor Cortes from the COVID-19 injured list, the team announced on Friday afternoon.
Both Loaisiga and Cortes have been sidelined since New York's series in Houston prior to the All-Star break, testing positive for the virus and going into quarantine.
The other four plays within the organization to test positive—a group including Aaron Judge and Gio Urshela—are still working their way back from the COVID IL. Urshela joined the Bombers in Boston on Friday and is expected to be activated over the weekend.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone called the return of these two pitchers "huge," explaining that in a perfect world, there would be more time to build them up, but he's confident they're ready to start to contribute right away.
"Feel like physically they're sound and mentally ready to go," Boone said. "Hopefully we can bring them into a game where they get comfortable early and start back to what they've been for us throughout the year."
While Loaisiga has been back with the club for much of this week, throwing bullpens and working out with the team at Yankee Stadium, Cortes is reuniting with his teammates for the first time in a while.
The left-hander has been a revelation over the last month or two, providing the back end of the Yankees' rotation with quite a spark. In nine outings this year (25.2 innings), Cortes has posted a spectacular 1.05 ERA.
He's already made two starts in July, allowing only one earned run over eight frames, permitting just four hits along the way.
Boone added that Cortes is a logical candidate to occupy the final spot in New York's rotation in the near future. It'll depend on how quickly the southpaw can ramp up, but with Corey Kluber and Michael King still on the injured list—and Luis Severino not quite ready to make his long-awaited return from Tommy John surgery—expect Cortes to make an impact early and often.
Meanwhile, Loaisiga has been lights out in the bullpen this season. The right-hander is looking to build on his dominant campaign, entering play Friday with a 2.11 ERA and 46 strikeouts over 47 innings.
New York's bullpen has been thin of late, leaning heavily on their high-leverage relievers while giving new faces a shot in big moments, so Loaisiga's return will provide an immediate boost.
That in mind, Cortes and Loaisiga are coming back at the perfect time. These next three games against the Red Sox, with three more against the Rays after that, are pivotal for the Yankees ahead of the Trade Deadline as they seek to make up some ground in the standings.
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