Yankees to make a decision on Gerrit Cole in 48 hours after his superb third rehab

Yankees' Gerrit Cole pitches during his rehab in Rochester on June 14, 2024.

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New York Yankees officials observing Gerrit Cole‘s third rehab start for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Friday night had plenty to be impressed by, despite the pitcher lasting just 4 1/3 innings in his 70-pitch outing.

Gerrit Cole’s velocity was notable, beginning at 92-94 mph in the first two innings and ramping up to 94-96 mph by the fourth, highlighting his recovery progress in his third rehab start following elbow nerve inflammation.

Gerrit Cole delivered a dominant performance, striking out 10 batters while allowing only two hits and one unearned run. He managed to build his pitch count to 70, achieved 22 swings-and-misses, and averaged 94.6 mph on his four-seam fastball, peaking at 97.8 mph. The matchup against the Rochester Red Wings attracted a record crowd of 13,605 to Innovative Field.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone, who watched Gerrit Cole’s first two innings from his office during a rain delay in the Yankees’ game, expressed satisfaction with the Yankees ace’s performance. Boone noted that while the pitcher didn’t pitch five full innings, his 10 strikeouts made it challenging to go deeper into the game. He also acknowledged the excitement generated by the game, with a standing-room-only crowd adding to the lively atmosphere for Gerrit Cole’s rehab start.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone indicated that the team would soon assess whether Gerrit Cole requires another minor league outing or is prepared to rejoin the big league squad. Boone mentioned the Yankees were looking for “a little bit of everything” from Gerrit Cole during his Friday outing, observing how he managed his pitches and handled the adrenaline of game conditions.

“Anytime you strike out 10, it’s tough to get too deep,” the skipper said. “I’m sure it was a good environment being on the road up in Rochester. I heard it was standing room only, biggest crowd ever. So I’m sure there was a buzz around it.”

Yankees' Gerrit Cole pitches during his rehab in Rochester on June 14, 2024.
Jamie Germano

Boone also stressed the importance of how Gerrit Cole recovers, noting that the team would be closely monitoring his condition on Saturday morning. These observations will be crucial in the team’s discussions over the next 24 to 48 hours to finalize the next move.

“We’ll see,” he said. “We’ll sit down, see where we’re at and if we think we need another one or that’s it. You want to see how he’s carrying stuff. It’s obviously going to be a different adrenaline level being there than when he first comes back with us. It’s making sure he gets through that. Make sure he bounces back. What will (Saturday) look like when he wakes up and gets moving? Most of those things we’ll talk through in the next 24 or 48 hours.”

Gerrit Cole’s Return

Gerrit Cole spent Friday night dominating the mound in Rochester, and his next appearance might be at Yankee Stadium.

The New York Yankees are poised to decide in the coming days whether the 2023 American League Cy Young winner will need another rehab start or if he’s ready to come off the injured list and join the major league rotation next week. If Gerrit Cole follows his regular four-day rest schedule, he could make his season debut on Wednesday night against the Baltimore Orioles in The Bronx.

During his rehab start, Gerrit Cole exhibited excellent control, striking out batters with a variety of pitches: four on fastballs, three each on cutters and curves. He primarily utilized his fastball, mixed in a significant number of cutters, and also threw nine curves, three sliders, one sinker, and one changeup.

Boone has hinted that Gerrit Cole might complete his rehab assignment in the majors rather than needing to reach 85-90 pitches in the minors before returning. Boone mentioned that Cole is expected to have around 80-85 pitches available for his next outing.

Yankees' Gerrit Cole pitches during his rehab in Rochester on June 14, 2024.

The Yankees manager also noted that Gerrit Cole’s pitch count could be slightly reduced in his first start back with the Yankees due to the increased adrenaline compared to his minor league appearances. If the Yankees decide the ace is ready, the reigning AL Cy Young winner could make his 2024 debut against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday or Thursday.

Gerrit Cole’s input will play a crucial role in the decision-making process regarding his readiness to return. In his rehab starts, two with Double-A Somerset and one with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, he has posted a 0.73 ERA, allowing two runs (one earned) over 12 1/3 innings, striking out 19 and walking none.

Boone expressed satisfaction with Gerrit Cole’s rehab performance, stating that Cole has consistently looked strong and that his latest successful outing is particularly encouraging.

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