Yankees’ ace is set to begin facing live hitters tomorrow

MLB: New York Yankees at Houston Astros
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Gerrit Cole has progressed well in his rehab after dealing with nerve inflammation in his elbow, and the Yankees get even more good news on their ace. For the first time since he was shut down with his initial injury, the reigning AL Cy Young winner will begin facing live hitters tomorrow according to Meredith Marakovits of YES Network, as he is set to take another massive step towards his return to the team. The Yankees have held their own without their ace, as they currently have a 3.00 ERA as a rotation while ranking in the top three in both strikeout rate and Stuff+.

This could be a game-changer for an already dominant Yankees team, and it could be a huge boost to a dominant pitching staff if they can get him back soon.

Gerrit Cole Could Take Another Massive Step Towards Return to Yankees

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees, gerrit cole
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees could take an already excellent rotation and add the best pitcher in the world at some point in the coming weeks, as Gerrit Cole will begin facing live hitters tomorrow. It’s still unclear how long it’ll take for him to get back to pitching in rehab games or for him to be activated off of the IL, but it’s safe to say that he’ll need more time than the 60-day minimum he had to stay on the IL for.

On May 27th he will be eligible for activation, but it’s impossible for him to go from facing live hitters to pitching in MLB games in the next seven days. Still, this is an excellent update for the Yankees, who could get their superstar ace back before the All-Star Break to bolster their rotation. The biggest question now pertains to who Gerrit Cole will replace if he were to have a healthy rehab, and the answer is less clear than ever before.

Luis Gil, whom the Yankees called up to replace Cole, has the lowest ERA (2.39) and highest strikeout rate (31.2%) among starters on the roster. Another option was Clarke Schmidt, who has been their second-best starter behind Luis Gil and has really matured into an excellent part of this staff. Marcus Stroman, Carlos Rodon, and Nestor Cortes are all performing at a high level as well, so it’ll be fun to see how this shakes out in the coming weeks.

Could we see the Yankees go to a six-man rotation? That remains to be seen, but they’ll have a very difficult decision to make in the coming weeks. It’s a great problem to have, as injuries can happen at any moment and create an opening in their rotation, but hopefully, Gerrit Cole can return and be the top-of-the-rotation presence that takes this incredible roster over the top.

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