After Saturday’s debacle, Yankees hand the ball to ace Gerrit Cole to get playoff push back on track

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This is why Gerrit Cole is here. The Yankees gave the right-hander a record-setting contract for a pitcher in December 2019 for the games he will start down the stretch. The ace will take the ball on Sunday against Cleveland looking to get the Yankees back on track after a bad 11-3 loss Saturday. He will likely have two more starts in the final 12 games as the Bombers chase a playoff spot — but there is a possibility of three.

It’s why Cole wanted to be here, too.

“I kind of think it’s fun. Like, if you get into October, games are going to be the same way. The mentality is going to be the same way. So, it’s just you can challenge yourself to rise to the occasion,” Cole said Saturday before the Yankees faced Cleveland at the Stadium. “Again, that’s not trying to do too much, that’s just trying to find a sweet spot. But we all owe it to ourselves to just take it one game at a time and not get ahead of ourselves.

“We’d like to be in a better position than we are, but we put in a lot of work to be in this position with the opportunity that we have. And if we continue to play the way that we should, we should be pretty satisfied with how it all plays out getting into the postseason.”

With two off delays remaining in the final two weeks, depending on their playoff picture and how Cole feels, he could potentially pick up another start on short rest if the Yankees need it.

That seems to be a last resort with Cole having come out of a start a week ago with left hamstring tightness. He was pitching with a wrap on the hamstring last time.

So Aaron Boone and the Yankees will be cautious and lean more toward lining him up for a playoff game unless they are in a win-or-go-home situation. Cole could line up to pitch Friday in Boston, again in Toronto and that would line him up for a potential Game 163 or Wild Card game on regular or extra rest. Or he could pitch the season finale against the Rays on short rest.

“I don’t necessarily see short, short rest, but we’ll look at it and see if, pitching every fifth day, for the rest of the way makes sense and the short rest comes into play at the very end by a need, we’ll see,” the Yankees manager said. “But I think the biggest thing is what do his outings look like? And how does he come out of them? And we’ll be honest in our assessment, and Gerrit’s usually very honest and direct and we have good conversations about that.

“And we’ll try and, you know, put ourselves in the best position to get where we want to go.”

That’s why every one of these games down the stretch is important for the Yankees if they want to not only reach the playoffs, but to line it up to give them their best chances.


Jameson Taillon was itching to get back into the rotation. The right-hander, who suffered a partially torn tendon in his right ankle, threw his second bullpen on Saturday, but still had things to prove to come off the IL.

“We’ll see,” Boone said when asked what Taillon’s next step was. “I know he’s moving around some, probably doing some [pitcher fielding practice] stuff. And so we’ll just kind of see how he comes out of that,” Boone said. “We’ll see how he looks moving around on the mound and then kind of talk through that as well.”

Luis Severino told reporters he is “ready to go,” on Saturday morning, meaning he was feeling good after having faced hitters for the first time on Friday since he was shut down from a rehab assignment with shoulder tightness.

Severino pitched two simulated innings on Friday and has not pitched in any game situation since early August. The Yankees still say they see a path for Severino, who has not pitched in a big league game since October 2019, to pitch for them this season. It would have to be in the bullpen since there is not enough time to build up his pitch count to start.

Jonathan Loaisiga, who was shut down from throwing for 10 days with a shoulder strain, was back out throwing on Saturday morning. That’s a good sign for a Yankees bullpen that has been heavily taxed this past month.

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