The Yankees’ Gerrit Cole Makes His Comeback Amid MLB’s Most Alarming Trend.

When Gerrit Cole steps back onto the Yankee Stadium mound on Wednesday, he will be rejoining a struggle at its most challenging point.

This isn’t a comment on the New York Yankees’ 2024 season. Contrary to many concerns, the team has performed well without the 33-year-old pitcher.

Wednesday’s game against the Baltimore Orioles will be the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner’s first start of 2024. Despite his absence, the Yankees hold the best record in MLB at 51-24, primarily due to their pitching staff, which leads the league with a 2.99 ERA.

In this regard, Cole can enhance an already strong team by continuing his excellent performance from 2023, where he led the AL in innings pitched, ERA, WHIP, and WAR.

However, the broader issue is more significant. While the Yankees are thriving, the role of ace starting pitchers is under threat and needs Cole’s resurgence.

Many Top Aces Are Struggling This Year

Cole’s delayed start is due to inflammation in his $324 million elbow, sidelining him until now in 2024.

Missing two-and-a-half months is significant, and elbow inflammation often has poor outcomes. Since his injury was reported in March, 17 major league pitchers have had Tommy John surgery.

This makes Cole one of the fortunate ones in what has been a difficult year for high-profile aces.

Reviewing lists of top pitchers since 2018—where Cole ranks second with 29.7 WAR—or recent Cy Young Award winners reveals that many of these pitchers haven’t been impactful in 2024: