After being sidelined with injury for the first 75 games of the season with elbow inflammation, New York Yankees ace and reigning American League Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole at last made his 2024 debut on Wednesday night against the Baltimore Orioles (BAL-NYY GameTracker). Across four innings of work, Cole turned in strong and encouraging work against one of the best offenses in all of baseball. 

Cole got off to a bit of a shaky start, as he permitted a pair of hard-hit doubles and a run in the first inning. Then he mostly grooved through the next handful of frames and wound up with the following line: 

Gerrit Cole
NYY • SP • #45
vs. BAL, 6/19/24
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Here's a look at strikeouts four and five: 

Encouraging for Cole and the Yankees is that his fastball topped out at 97.5 mph. Overall, the 28 fastballs he threw averaged 95.1 mph. That's down a bit from his usual levels, but it's nothing concerning given that he's still getting stretched out. When it comes to his secondaries, Cole leaned on his knuckle-curve and cutter and also threw his slider – one of them at better than 90 mph – and changeup. Across his 16 batters faced, Cole earned six whiffs and 13 called strikes. 

Yankees manager Aaron Boone permitted Cole to come out for the fifth inning, perhaps after some dugout persuasion:  

Cole's night was over after he permitted a lead-off single on a humpback liner off the bat of Cedric Mullins. He departed with the score 1-1. Reliever Ron Marinaccio was unable to strand Mullins, as Ramón Urías hit a two-run homer to give the visitors a 3-1 lead. Marinaccio allowed another run before finally escaping the fifth. 

What's impressive – and what's been a key driver in the first-place Yankees' success thus far – is that the remainder of the rotation has thrived in Cole's absence. Coming into their ace's 2024 debut, Yankees starters led all of baseball with a rotation ERA of 2.86, and just the rotations of the Phillies and the Padres had racked up more strikeouts. In particular, 26-year-old right-hander Luis Gil has been a breakout revelation for the Yanks this season with his AL-leading ERA of 2.03. 

Now, though, they have their ace back, and Wednesday's season debut suggests it won't be long before Cole is delivering Cy Young-caliber results once again.

Assuming he remains on a normal schedule, Cole's next start would come on Tuesday against the cross-town Mets in Citi Field.