gerrit cole yankees
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees are holding their breath as staff ace and reigning Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole is set to have an MRI on his pitching elbow. Several sources reported the development as the fans panicked on X/Twitter.

It’s only natural to read “MRI on his elbow” and immediately assume Tommy John surgery. The good news, and potentially false hope, is that the way Cole describes it, his arm is just tired. Nothing about sharp pain or inability. By comparison, when reliever Tommy Kahnle had Tommy John surgery in 2020, he couldn’t even play catch during a workout.

But just the same, Gerrit Cole is the unquestioned heartbeat of the New York Yankees’ pitching staff. He is the no-doubt leader among them on and off the field. Him missing just one start seems unfathomable, but we always forget. Pro athletes are indeed mortal.

All eyes now point to $162 million lefty Carlos Rodon, who really needs a good season after struggling through injuries all of 2023. It’ll either be him or Marcus Stroman on the bump if Cole can’t go Opening Day. If the news proves a worst case scenario, lefties Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery are still unsigned. Why not offer one or the other a one-year deal with a high annual value?

This could also be a chance for the Yankees to test their young arms in the minors. Will Warren and Chase Hampton are each within reach of their pro debuts. Warren even drew the start for one of Monday’s split-squad games against Baltimore. If the youth keeps succeeding in spring training, then the problem could solve itself in-house.

But even then, losing Gerrit Cole means losing one of the best in baseball. And even with a lineup featuring Aaron Judge and Juan Soto, the Yankees’ pitching staff could soon need more help than what’s available.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.