Q. Should Cortes be starting, then?
A. Here's a guy with a mechanical face born for radio, the bullpen radio, that is.
When we speak of a "starter's rhythm" we speak of a man who relies on technique rather than adrenaline. We're speaking of leverage rather than muscle, of a slightly shorter step down the mound, of an uber-repeatable motion.
This repeatable motion, after 10 or 20 or 30 pitches, lends itself to more and more hair-fine control.
Relievers, on the other hand, can't possibly get to their superfine control in the one inning they have. Absent the chance to get into the hitter's (or umpire's!) heads, they need an extra two feet on their fastball.
Cortes is an adrenaline, max-effort guy from the word Go.
Odd to hear quotes that Cortes' "stuff plays well in the bullpen." His stuff would play well on Opening Day. But his max-effort approach does play well in the bullpen.
Q. What are the chances that he'll star in the bullpen?
A. About the same as the chances that the Republicans and Democrats will attribute the economy to the other side.
Cortes does, in fact, have an 85 slider with good arm action.
DO THIS NOW: Bop on over to Fangraphs and find every (1) 97 mph reliever, with (2) a positive wSL/C (slider run) value, who (3) doesn't make opposing hitters run screaming into the night.
There really isn't any such thing* as a high-90's reliever, with a quality second pitch, who isn't extremely effective. Why would there be?
*Only exceptions: 6 BB Steve Dalkowskis and Daniel Cabreras, and/or 2 HR Bobby Ayalas.
Q. Any precedents come to mind?
A. Hall of Fame closer Goose Gossage is a good one ... in 1976, while my Big Red Machine was stompling to another championship, Rich was a big max-effort, hard-throwing, wild man in San Diego's bullpen. He went 9-17 with an ERA+ of 91.
In 1977, the Pirates shifted him back to the bullpen and his K's went from 5.4 to 10.2. Ten strikeouts a game was pretty good in the 1970's...
The Yankees acquired him in 1978 and the rest was, literally, history.
The point is, a lot of these max-effort 100 mph guys can maintain K/BB concentration for exactly 15 pitches.
Q. Maybe start later, like they're saying now?
A. Here's one case, where I wouldn't be inclined to ever switch Cortes back. He just looks like a reliever to me.
Which, supposing I told you that Dan Cortes was Goose Gossage? That Cortes was a Hall of Fame reliever?
How would you prove me wrong? He's never been a reliever. Maybe that was his destiny and we just now uncovered it.