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The Yankees Welcome Back an Ace

Back in Spring Training, reigning AL Cy Young Award winner and Yankee ace Gerrit Cole did not feel right, he just wasn’t recovering as well as normal and was experiencing more prolonged soreness than the veteran was traditionally accustomed to as he entered his twelfth year in the league. There was, of course, fear of a serious arm injury, perhaps Tommy John surgery, and a year-and-half of missed opportunity was in his future. Thankfully, it turned out to be inflammation that seemingly required long-term rest, and nothing more.

But on Monday, June 17th, Yankee Manager Aaron Boone announced on “Talkin’ Yanks” with Jomboy and Jake, that Cole would be returning to the big league mound and making his season debut on Wednesday the 19th, in a huge match-up against the Baltimore Orioles, who despite the Yankees hot start (50-24), will enter the series only 1.5 games behind the Bronx Bombers; Cole’s return couldn’t come at a better time.
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That’s not to say the Yankees starting pitching has been struggling, far from it; in Cole’s absence, the six men who have started for the Yankees – a surprisingly low number in and of itself – have put up a 35-15 record, with a staff ERA of 2.89 in 419 IP over 74 starts, and until recently were setting records for quality starts.

Carlos Rodon has been resurgent, and Marcus Stroman a better fit than one could have hoped; Clarke Schmidt has finally found his promise and Luis Gil? A revelation! Nestor Cortes has been the worst and most frustrating of the bunch, and even he is sporting a respectable 3.59 ERA; and Cody Poteet, filling in for the injured Schmidt, has pitched just as well as his injured counterpart. To say that no one saw this coming is an understatement, but this Bronxian status quo will now add one of the best pitchers in baseball, who in his final rehab start struck out ten men in less than five innings.
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Cole’s return to the Yankees will not shore up any of their weaknesses, because even the best teams have weaknesses. They still need some help in what has frankly been a very good bullpen overall, and their infield – outside of Anthony Volpe – has not lived up to their potential and will now be missing an already struggling Anthony Rizzo for the next two months due to a fracture in his arm; but while Cole’s presence on the mound will not fix these problems, what he brings is a way to make up for them until either the sleeping bats wake up or can be replaced at the end of July.

So be excited Yankees fans, your team just got better, and considering what we were thinking at the beginning of the season, this is more than any of us could have asked for.

Aaron is a Writer and communicator who has notably served on the communications team of the Westchester County Executive. Nicknamed "Mr. Baseball" in his youth, Aaron is a lifelong Yankee fan, Tino Martinez and Aaron Judge enthusiast, and a fierce defender of Craig Biggio's Hall of Fame worthiness. When he is not writing, or doing baseball related activities, Aaron is an avid foodie and culinarian. His non-baseball writing can be found at the Realety Check substack.

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