Gerrit Cole’s return on horizon providing more good omens for Yankees

Yankees Gerrit Cole
Gerrit Cole
AP Photo/John Minchillo

The Yankees sit atop the American League in large part due to what has been an elite rotation. They’ve also done it without their ace and reigning Cy Young Award winner.  

Gerrit Cole, who won his first Cy Young last season, has yet to throw a pitch for the team this year. He has been sidelined since March due to nerve irritation and edema in his pitching elbow but could return within the week after striking out 10 with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Friday in what was his third rehab start.

In spite of the devastating loss before the season even began, the Yankees rotation has been the best in baseball, pitching to a league-best 2.85 ERA. The starters have consistently gone deep into games, alleviating pressure on the bullpen and offense. 

Despite a difficult start Saturday night in Boston against the Red Sox, Carlos Rodón has had a resurgent year, pitching to a 3.28 ERA and possessing a strong 9-3 record.

Entering Sunday’s series finale against Boston, Marcus Stroman owned a 2.82 ERA, proving to be an invaluable late-offseason acquisition.

The Yankees’ best pitcher has undoubtedly been Luis Gil, though, who is 9-1 with a sparkling 2.03 ERA. He has held opponents to a .142 batting average, good enough to lead the majors. The righty is just 26-years-old but has solidified his place atop New York’s rotation. 

Nestor Cortes, Cody Poteet, and Clarke Schmidt have all done solid work at the back end of the Yankees rotation. New York set a MLB record this season in having their starters go 15 straight games where they tossed at least five innings and allowed two runs or fewer, exemplifying the united effort of the staff. 

With a healthy Cole and Gil pitching at the level that he currently is, the Yankees look poised to be a major contender come October. Dominant starting pitching has been a consistent part of championship teams and it seems like they may have finally found their “other guy” to go along with Cole. 

It will also be crucial to see how the back end of the rotation holds up in the playoffs. Veterans such as Cortes and Stroman will likely be relied upon to be stabilizing presences as the Yankees face formidable lineups. 

Perhaps one of the more important aspects of the potent rotation is its ability to lessen the burden on the offense. While the offense has been among the best so far, there is always the chance of detrimental injuries as seen last year with Aaron Judge tearing a ligament in his toe. 

Juan Soto has already been a bit banged up this year. If the Yankees lose important hitters, the starting pitching will need to continue to dominate to make up for the lost offense.

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