Could Gerrit Cole update save Yankees from lengthy Clarke Schmidt injury?

Ok, now what?
New York Yankees v San Diego Padres
New York Yankees v San Diego Padres / Orlando Ramirez/GettyImages

As Gerrit Cole makes progress in his rehab and the New York Yankees' starting rotation continues to dominate the rest of MLB, the unit recently took its first hit since spring training. Clarke Schmidt went down this week and could miss two months or more.

At first, Schmidt's injury was revealed to be a lat strain and seemed pretty standard. But within the hour, manager Aaron Boone said the right-hander would be shut down for 4-6 weeks and then likely need a month of building back up his arm strength. That's a big blow. Schmidt was statistically the Yankees' second-best starter.

So, with Schmidt out for two months, the Yankees called up Cody Morris to take his spot on the roster. But he's mostly been a reliever at Triple-A, making it unclear how the Yankees will officially address the rotation.

There's Cody Poteet and Yoendrys Gomez as immediate options (Poteet will start Saturday), while the injured Clayton Beeter and struggling Will Warren could offer support later down the road. Luke Weaver could be an option, as manager Aaron Boone previously said he could be stretched out for emergency situations, but it may not be necessary to do that.

Perhaps the Yankees can stay afloat with the personnel they have, without making any major changes, until Gerrit Cole returns.

How has Clarke Schmidt injury altered Yankees' plans as Gerrit Cole return looms?

Cole is nearing a rehab assignment, per Boone, who said there's a "good chance" that could be the ace's next outing. That came after Cole's successful 43-pitch simulated game in Tampa, which was the next step in his series of "tests" to get cleared for game action.

The Yankees have purposefully been vague on a possible return date because ... well, you just never know what can happen. There's no way to properly project these types of elbow injuries. But initially, it was believed he'd be back right around this time, so it's plausible we're not too far off from seeing him make his 2024 debut.

But, at this point, Cole getting through his rehab unscathed has fans optimistic. That means the Yankees might not need to adopt a drastic plan to remake the rotation with Schmidt going down. A faceless fifth starter can hold down the fort for 4-5 starts, and then maybe Cole is back to offer 75% of himself, which is 1000% better than whatever options are in the tank.

Thankfully, Luis Gil has disguised himself as Cole while the reigning AL Cy Young winner has been on the shelf. The Yankees were lucky enough not to miss a beat from the start of the season until Schmidt's next scheduled outing, and it may not be long before they get the best reinforcement of all as they navigate being a man down at the moment.