Yankees’ Gerrit Cole to take on Orioles in highly-anticipated season debut

Yankees' Gerrit Cole all set to make his season debut against arch AL rivals - Baltimore Orioles.
Sports Illustrated

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As the New York Yankees navigate through a turbulent season marked by higher highs than low lows, all eyes are now set on the crucial series against the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles, in a hot stretch, have managed to bring down the lead over the Yanks to just three games, and the Yankees are in a rather vulnerable position right now. No better moment for the O’s to return to the top of AL East. But amidst this, the Yankees see some relief – Gerrit Cole’s much-awaited return to the mound. Scheduled to pitch against the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday, Cole’s comeback is not just a routine return; it will contribute to the combined hopes of each and every Yankee faithful.

The timing of Gerrit Cole’s return couldn’t be better

Gerrit Cole’s return comes at a critical juncture for the Yankees. Following a disheartening loss to the Dodgers and a tough series against a battered but resilient Red Sox team, the Yankees find themselves in need of a strong leader on the mound. Is Luis Gil’s fluke coming to an end? Is Carlos Rodon returning to his 2023 form? I can’t help but imagine the worst possible outcomes – this is what two disappointing weekends do to you. I hope this is an overreaction, and my pessimism doesn’t come and bite me.

Cole, who won last year’s AL Cy Young Award in a unanimous vote, steps back into the game after three minor league rehab starts. His journey back has been marked by steady progress—striking out 19 batters with zero walks over 12 1/3 innings across these outings. Despite being limited to around 80-85 pitches for his season debut, Cole’s precision in these rehab games suggests he’s ready to lead and lift the spirits of his team.

Yankees' star Gerrit Cole during a rehab game with Somerset Patriots in 2024

This return is pivotal not only for Cole’s own season trajectory but also for the Yankees, who have been grappling with injuries and inconsistencies lately. The team’s rotation, while the best in MLB with a combined ERA of 2.90, will benefit greatly from Cole’s veteran presence.

Gerrit Cole’s recovery

The road to recovery for Gerrit Cole has been both challenging and meticulously managed. After experiencing nerve inflammation and edema in his right elbow, a thorough and cautious approach was paramount. His rehab assignments at Double-A Somerset and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre were not just about getting back into shape but also about ensuring his pitching mechanics and endurance were at their best.

During these starts, Gerrit Cole demonstrated not only his resilience but also his readiness to return to major league action. His impressive strikeout tally and controlled pitching during rehab has allowed for a return against the Baltimore Orioles.

Carlos Rodón’s recent struggles highlight the need for stability

While Gerrit Cole prepares for his season debut, his teammate Carlos Rodón’s recent performances have been underwhelming, especially during the critical game against the Red Sox where he allowed five runs in the first two innings.

Rodón’s inability to control the game early on was a significant setback, exposing the Yankees to a deficit they struggled to recover from. As Rodón hopes that one poor game doesn’t derail him back to poor form, Gerrit Cole’s comeback could not be timed better, offering a much-needed boost to the rotation. What do you think? Leave your comment below!

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