Yankees see rehabbing ace take another step in recovery

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

Gerrit Cole faced live hitters for the first time since being shut down with elbow inflammation in his throwing arm, and the Yankees had him pitch a two-inning simulated game earlier today as the follow-up. Aaron Boone mentioned that the reigning AL Cy Young winner is expected to go through another live session in a few days, and if all of that goes well, we could see a rehab assignment as the next step. After weeks of building up, the Yankees are getting great news on their ace, as he’s continuing to look great and feel good in live sessions.

The true tests for these sim games are the following days of recovery, but if all goes well, we could get some form of definitive timeline for Gerrit Cole’s return.

Gerrit Cole Continuing to Make Progress Towards Return to the Yankees

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Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

Today, Gerrit Cole threw a two-inning simulated game, throwing 15 pitches in each inning and reportedly hitting 95 MPH multiple times as people were impressed with his showing. Time will tell how his recovery goes, as the degree of soreness or pain the right-hander experiences after throwing will likely determine the next steps in his rehab. If the Yankees have him face live hitters before throwing him into a rehab assignment, we could see Gerrit Cole begin the 20-day clock for his return in the first week of June.

Chris Kirschner of The Athletic reported that there’s a chance the rehab assignment could happen as soon as this coming week, giving the Yankees a chance to get Gerrit Cole back before the All-Star Break. The impact that Cole has had off the field remains enormous, serving as the leader of the pitching staff and a mentor to younger guys like Clarke Schmidt and Luis Gil. His on-field impact is also unbelievable, as last season he racked up 222 strikeouts with a 2.63 ERA across 33 starts for the Bronx Bombers.

Getting the reigning Cy Young Award winner back and adding him to a rotation that currently has the lowest ERA in the American League (2.79) would be a massive lift for this team. They’re firing on all cylinders right now with Aaron Judge and Juan Soto leading the pack, but the question right now pertains to who the Yankees will sub out of the rotation for Cole. It’s a question that the Yankees haven’t made any public indication of being close to deciding on, as while Luis Gil would be the obvious choice entering the season, he’s been the best pitcher on the team thus far.

Injuries usually sort out these depth questions, especially on the pitching side of things, but they could have a very good problem on their hands in the coming weeks.

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