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Yankees’ top gun returns as Gerrit Cole is activated from COVID-IL

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The Angels are in the Danger Zone with Gerrit Cole returning from the IL to start tonight in the Bronx.

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images

The Yankees hope to get a figurative shot in the arm tonight when their ace makes his return from the COVID-IL. Gerrit Cole, who hasn’t pitched since July 29th, will be toeing the slab in the boogie down shortly after 7pm ET tonight when he takes on the Angels in a makeup game at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees officially activated him this afternoon, sending reliever Brooks Kriske back to the minors in a corresponding move.

You may remember Cole’s last outing on July 29th, as it was one of his worst as a Yankee: Seven earned runs allowed in 5.1 innings jump-started the Tampa Bay Rays to an eventual 14-0 shellacking of the Yankees. The loss that day dropped the Bombers 8.5 games out of first place and 3.5 games out of the second Wild Card spot.

The Yankees have held their own in Cole’s absence, narrowing their deficit in the AL East to 5.5 games, and 2.5 behind Boston and Oakland in the Wild Card race. The starting pitchers in particular have been very good, as even without Cole and Jordan Montgomery (due to return tomorrow), Yankees starters have collectively posted a 3.57 ERA since July 29th.

That isn’t to say the Yankees and their fans aren’t ecstatic that the small sample size test is over, because they are going to need their likely Cy Young Award candidate to contribute down the stretch if they hope to play a postseason game. Cole still ranks in the top three in the AL in WAR, FIP, IP, K%, and BB% — the team could certainly use that level of excellence over the next seven weeks. Cole’s return tonight against the Halos should be a boost in both on-field production and optimism for the Yankees and their fans.

The other news that the Yankees announced was that Clint Frazier was removed from his rehab assignment at Double-A Somerset and placed on the 60-day IL. He had played in three minor league games but took himself out of the lineup on Sunday because he knew he wasn’t feeling right. The team did not provide a full explanation for his ailments, but it’s obviously a bad sign to be moved to the 60. Frazier has not played since the end of June after suffering from vision issues that were originally diagnosed as vertigo before that was ruled out.