Return of Gerrit Cole: A Mixed Bag of Promise for the Yankees

1. He's (Nearly) Ready for Prime Time

The Yankees have managed to exceed expectations even without their star pitcher, Gerrit Cole, for much of the season. Currently holding the best record in the majors, the team is on a hot streak that has fans dreaming of a World Series run. However, for those dreams to become a reality, Cole’s health and performance are crucial. Cole made his long-anticipated season debut recently, delivering a mixed bag of results that left both hope and concern in the air. He pitched four-plus innings, allowing two runs on three hits, with five strikeouts and a single walk. While the stats show promise, especially considering it was his first game back, there were some noticeable areas for improvement. Most notably, Cole’s fastball velocity was down by 1.6 mph compared to last season, a factor likely tied to his recent absence. He threw a total of 62 pitches, 40 of which were strikes, showcasing reasonable command over his arsenal. Impressively, he induced six whiffs and 13 called strikes, implying that his stuff is still tricky for hitters to square up. The Orioles’ batters did manage to hit six pitches at velocities of at least 101.5 mph, indicating that Cole was not yet at peak form. However, he improved as the game went on, exiting to a standing ovation in the fifth inning. Although he did not factor in the decision, the emotional weight of his return was palpable.

2. He Wasn't Happy with How It Ended

Despite the overall positive return, Cole was visibly upset with himself over specific pitches. He was particularly critical of a high fastball to Cedric Mullins that resulted in a single. Mullins has historically performed well against Cole, and this outing was no exception.

3. There's 'More' to Come... but How Much More is a Mystery

A touching moment was Cole’s son, visibly excited to see his father back in the dugout. Interestingly, manager Aaron Boone chose not to reveal Cole's pitch count before the game. Boone later sensed that Cole was fatigued after the fourth inning and made the strategic decision to pull him. The plan is for Cole’s pitch count to increase gradually in future outings. Boone echoed these sentiments, saying, "I thought he got better as the game went along." Such progress bodes well for the Yankees’ future, especially as Cole works his way back to full strength. Cole himself remains optimistic about his return to form. There’s a consensus within the team that Cole has more in the tank. Yankee fans will need to stay tuned to see how quickly Cole can ramp up to his usual dominating self.


"This return was special and emotional," Cole admitted. "Cedric got me again on a high fastball," Cole acknowledged. "He could have continued pitching but was stopped strategically," Boone explained. "I think the location was good," Cole noted. "The consistency probably has to progress as well with the pitch count. It's encouraging," Cole remarked. "I held up well," Cole said. "I'm tired now. It just demands a higher level of focus and execution," Cole added. "I definitely could keep making pitches," Cole remarked. "It was strategic in the pitch count," Cole concluded. Although Cole's return featured both positive elements and areas requiring improvement, the overall reaction from fans and teammates has been one of optimism and support. His performance is a crucial factor in the Yankees' quest for a World Series title, and this debut, despite its mixed outcomes, has set the stage for what could prove to be a pivotal second half of the season. Ultimately, the Yankees are playing the long game. By gradually building up Cole's pitch count and monitoring his performance, they are ensuring that he peaks at just the right time. With his skill set and the emotional lift he provides to the team, Cole's return is a major storyline to follow as the Yankees push toward playoff glory.