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Yankees "Having Conversations" About Opening Day Starter As They Await Cole MRI Results

It's looking more likely that Gerrit Cole will not be starting on Opening Day.
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The New York Yankees are still holding their breath for Gerrit Cole.

Testing on the Yankees' ace is continuing on Tuesday, but there is nothing definitive to announce at the moment. It should be a couple more days before they have concrete results and a decision to make.

Unfortunately, a report from beat writer Bryan Hoch of may have unintentionally provided a grim update on Cole's status.

According to team manager Aaron Boone, the Yankees are now having conversations about who would start on Opening Day in place of the reigning AL Cy Young winner. With the Bronx Bombers set to begin their season on March 28 against the Houston Astros, options to start the opener include Carlos Rodon, Clarke Schmidt, Nestor Cortes Jr., and the newly-acquired Marcus Stroman.

Boone also added that it would be "difficult to envision" Cole starting on Opening Day, per Hoch.

While the writing could be on the wall that Cole will miss time, we will have to wait until the Yankees share his MRI results later in the week.

The 33-year-old was "not recovering as well" between starts this spring, and compared it to how he felt after throwing 100 pitches during a regular season game. Taking no chances, the Yankees sent him for an MRI.

There's no dancing around it; losing Cole for any stretch of the season would be devastating, let alone long-term. The righty has been everything the Bronx Bombers could ask for since signing for a 9-year, $324 million contract in December 2019, and is arguably the last great workhorse starter in baseball right now. From 2020 to 2023, he has thrown 664 innings with a 3.08 ERA and 1.011 WHIP, while averaging 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings. He currently has a 51-23 record in pinstripes, including four shutouts, and has struck out 816 batters against 156 walks. Last season, he was unanimously voted as the AL Cy Young Award winner.

After an immensely disappointing 2023 season despite Cole's dominance, the Yankees are going all-in for 2024. But without Cole, their goal of returning to the World Series becomes drastically harder. 

There are options available to fill the void, such as Dylan Cease via trade and Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery in free agency. However, all three of these options are effectively a pipe dream; Snell and Montgomery would command hefty contracts that subject the team to significant luxury tax penalties, while the Chicago White Sox are demanding a haul from the Yankees that includes top prospect Spencer Jones, who the Bronx Bombers refuse to trade.

The Yankees have several quality arms, with Rodon and Stroman having legitimate pedigree while Schmidt and Cortes have tantalizing upside. However, their rotation is built around Cole, and with his absence feeling inevitable, one of those quality arms will need to step up this year.