Yankees: Initial tests show no tear in UCL for ace; will miss 1-2 months with additional testing

MLB: Spring Training-Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees
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The New York Yankees get a decent first report regarding Gerrit Cole, as the right-hander did not have a tear in his UCL according to initial testing. He will still miss 1-2 months as the swelling and inflammation need to go down in his elbow, and he’ll undergo further testing in Los Angeles with Dr. Neal ElAttache, all according to Jon Heyman. The ligament is still in question, but a tear seems to be less likely, and that’s a huge revelation for the Yankees. Had there been a tear, it would mean a potential Tommy John Surgery, and Andy Martino of SNY reports more ‘cautious optimism’ surrounding their ace avoiding a season-ending surgery like that one.

It’s still an evolving situation, and we want to be clear that the testing in LA will further determine if there was a tear in the UCL, as they try to pinpoint what exactly is wrong with it. The Yankees could have avoided disaster here, as they hope to get their ace back at some point in May or June.

Yankees To Continue Evaluating Elbow Issue For Gerrit Cole

MLB: New York Yankees-Workouts
Feb 15, 2024; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) talks with media during spring training practice at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a positive and negative side to what’s going on with Gerrit Cole, as on one hand, the preliminary film doesn’t show a UCL tear, but on the other, he’s still going to undergo further testing. He’s not out of the woods yet, the Yankees need to find out what exactly the issue is if it’s not a tear, and that keeps his timeline to return in flux. This is a developing story, but the Yankees are now without their ace for the next month or so at the very least. Who serves as their Opening Day starter remains to be seen, and who becomes their fifth starter is also a question mark.

It’s still a huge blow for the Yankees, who relied on Cole to be their healthy and durable horse for the entire season, and that will no longer be the case. They’ll have to turn to arms like Nestor Cortes, Carlos Rodon, and Marcus Stroman to remain effective and healthy, which isn’t a guarantee. As for some of their internal options to replace Cole, both Luke Weaver and Cody Poteet are starters with MLB experience who are currently on their 40-man roster, and they also have younger pitchers in their system who could help.

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Detroit Tigers
Feb 24, 2024; Lakeland, Florida, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Gil (81) pitches during the first inning against the Detroit Tigers at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Luis Gil, Will Warren, and Clayton Beeter are all options they could evaluate as well, and each of them come with their own quirks and advantages. Gil has the best fastball of the group and has made starts at the MLB level, but since he’s returning from Tommy John Surgery, he’s likely not fully built up to handle a starter’s workload yet. As for Clayton Beeter, he’s got the most volume of the group and is on the 40-man roster, but by only having two pitches it puts him at a disadvantage against MLB lineups, especially third time through the order.

Will Warren is the most highly-touted prospect of that trio, but he currently isn’t on their 40-man roster, and would require the Yankees to make a move to place him on it. This also means starting his service clock, and it’s unclear whether it would be wise to do that if they have more faith in a more proven arm on their 40-man like Weaver or Poteet. In my opinion, Warren is their best bet, but time will tell what they decide. The main takeaway is that there’s no tear on the UCL, and that the Yankees are trying to make sure they know what’s wrong with Cole before they announce anything.

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