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Gerrit Cole’s future with New York Yankees uncertain: Specialist’s consultation for troubled elbow sparks speculation

Gerrit Cole new York Yankees
Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees and their fans are waiting nervously to hear the extent of the injury to 2023 AL Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole who was rushed to Los Angeles this week for an in-depth examination of his elbow.

The Yankees’ ace pitcher and a cornerstone of their rotation, faces a potentially significant amount of time on the injured list. The situation has the Yankee organization and its fanbase on edge, beat writer Erik Boland of New York Newsday told Sportsnaut on Thursday.

“Well, I mean, I can tell you that organizationally, certainly they’re on pins and needles waiting for the evaluation of (Dr.) Neal S. ElAttrache,” Boland said.

Gerrit Cole’s journey to Los Angeles for an expert evaluation by the renowned orthopedic specialist ElAttrache underscores the seriousness with which the Yankees are taking his condition.

Initial tests, including an MRI in Tampa, hinted at an issue significant enough to warrant further examination. This cautious approach reflects a broader trend in sports medicine, where the immediacy of MRI results contrasts sharply with the deliberate silence from teams when those results uncover problems. The delay in releasing information about Cole’s injury suggests that the Yankees are preparing for news they’d rather not hear.

“When the MRIs come back showing absolutely nothing they can’t wait to tell you,” Boland told Sportsnaut. “When the MRI shows something generally they lie and say ‘oh we don’t have the results yet.’ Well that’s nonsense. I mean anybody who’s ever had an MRI can tell you that generally speaking you get those results within an hour or two.”

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Contrasting Aaron Judge’s MRI vs Gerrit Cole’s

Gerrit Cole New York Yankees Aaron Judge
Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Contrast this with the swift disclosure of Aaron Judge’s clean bill of health following his own MRI this spring, and the pattern becomes clear. Silence often speaks volumes.

The Yankees’ reticence is a telling sign of their concern over Cole’s diagnosis, which could range from minor inflammation requiring a brief rest to more severe conditions necessitating prolonged absence from the mound. Given Cole’s last performance on March 7th, and the rigorous build-up required for pitchers to reach season readiness, even an optimistic timeline sees him missing significant action.

“Best case scenario, he starts throwing again in two weeks or so,” Boland said. “And because it takes pitchers about six weeks to build up for the regular season, the one-to -wo months minimum that we saw reported yesterday was kind of an obvious thing.”

Can Yankees replace Gerrit Cole if he misses extended time?

Gerrit Cole New York Yankees
Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

This scenario places the Yankees in a precarious position, especially considering their off-season maneuvers. The acquisition of Juan Soto, while bolstering their lineup, came at the cost of depleting their pitching depth, trading away promising talents like Luis Medina, Joendrys Gomez, and Beck Way. The expectation was for Gerrit Cole to anchor the rotation, a plan now in jeopardy.

Boland’s shed some light on the internal deliberations within the Yankees’ organization regarding what to do if Gerrit Cole misses significant time. Despite the allure of free-agent pitchers like Blake Snell, financial constraints and strategic considerations make a high-profile signing unlikely. Instead, the Yankees seem inclined to rely on their “next wave” of young pitchers, names like Luis Gil, who is rebounding from injuries, and promising talents such as Will Warren and Clayton Beeter.

This strategy, however, carries its own risks, underscored by Boland’s skepticism based on his 16 years covering the team. The Yankees’ faith in their farm system will be tested, perhaps more than they anticipated.

“Yeah, we always hear about that next guy who’s going to be the big superstar, right?” Borland said. “And you just never know until they can get into the big leagues and actually play consistently and see if they can make it.”

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As the Yankees navigate this uncertainty, the broader implications for their season loom large. Gerrit Cole’s absence not only challenges their pitching rotation but also puts additional pressure on their offense to compensate. The depth and resilience of the roster will be put to the test early on, offering a stern examination of the team’s World Series aspirations.

In a sport where fortunes can pivot on the health of a single player, the Yankees find themselves at a crossroads. How they manage this predicament — through internal solutions, strategic acquisitions, or a combination of both — will be pivotal. As the 2024 season unfolds, all eyes will be on how this storied franchise responds to adversity, with the hope that its star pitcher Gerrit Cole returns to the mound sooner rather than later, ready to lead the charge toward meaningful baseball in October.

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