As Domingo German leaves the Yankees to address alcohol abuse issues, Nestor Cortes will rejoin the rotation.
Cortes was expected to make a third rehab start Wednesday, but he arrived early in The Bronx and was alerted the plans had been changed.
The Yankees later announced that German had voluntarily agreed to check himself into inpatient treatment for alcoholism after an incident Tuesday.
Cortes’ return to the majors has been accelerated after two rehab starts, the second one stretching out to four innings in 49 pitches.
The lefty likely will be able to reach 60-65 pitches when he starts on Saturday at home against the Astros.
The 28-year-old last pitched in the big leagues May 30, after which he had problems bouncing back.
Examinations revealed a left rotator cuff strain that cost Cortes two full months of the season.
Before the diagnosis, Cortes, a 2022 All-Star, had struggled, with a 5.16 ERA in 11 starts. Cortes says the shoulder now feels good, and he believes his results will improve, too.
“Really eager. Been on the shelf too long,” Cortes said Wednesday before the Yankees beat the Rays, 7-2, at the Stadium. “Want to come back and obviously show who I am and be back to the same form I was [last year].”
Without German, who has left to deal with a more serious opponent, the Yankees will add Cortes to a five-man group that includes Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodon, Clarke Schmidt and Luis Severino.
Cortes looked at the standings — the Yankees entered play 3 ½ games back of an AL wild card — and said thet with his return and improved play across the board, the Yankees still have a chance.
The playoffs are “definitely reachable,” Cortes said.
The Yankees activated reliever Keynan Middleton, who was acquired from the White Sox in a deadline trade, shortly before first pitch.
Manager Aaron Boone said “we’ll see” concerning how the Yankees will use the righty.
“Good fastball-changeup guy,” the manager said of Middleton, who had a 3.96 ERA in 39 games with Chicago. “A guy that gets both handed out.
“He’s tough against lefties with the changeup. I think he’ll be a nice fit down there.”
Jonathan Loaisiga (bone spur) made his second rehab appearance on Wednesday with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, tossing a perfect inning on just nine pitches.
If Loaisiga bounces back as planned, he then will pitch in a third minor league game Friday and then will be in line to return during the Yankees’ series at the White Sox, which will begin Monday.
Willie Calhoun elected free agency instead of accepting an outright assignment to Triple-A, the Yankees announced. Calhoun had been designated for assignment last week.
— Additional reporting by Greg Joyce