Following the success of the Yankees’ pitching wave comes hope after Gerrit Cole’s injury concerns

CLEARWATER, Fla. — There would be no replacing Gerrit Cole, an ace of aces whose arm represents the clearest route to a Yankees World Series, and whose elbow required an MRI on Monday.

But an ominous, dark day for the Yankees did include a speck of hope for the depth, if not the front, of the rotation.

If Cole needs to miss time, three competitors for a rotation spot — if not immediately then at some point — looked promising in combining for 10 ²/₃ innings of one-run, six-hit, 14-strikeout ball.

On a split-squad day that showcased some of the remaining depth options for the rotation, Clayton Beeter, Luis Gil and Will Warren looked like they could be ready to help in the majors soon.

Clayton Beeter throws during the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday, March 11, 2024, in Clearwater, Fla.AP

“For as much pitching depth as we’ve had to trade away this winter … I am excited about that next wave of arms,” manager Aaron Boone said at BayCare Ballpark, where Beeter and Gil dazzled in a 2-1 win over the Phillies. “I do feel like the pitching depth that we have is strong. On what level is it ready to compete now? That’s what you have to find out.”

Facing what might be the Opening Day lineup for the Phillies, Beeter allowed two hits and no runs while striking out four in four innings.

The return from the 2022 Joey Gallo trade, Beeter relied upon fastballs to get ahead in counts and sliders to finish off batters. Alec Bohm swung through three straight sliders. Kyle Schwarber, too, whiffed for strike three on the pitch.

“I saw the lineup today, I was excited to face those guys,” said Beeter, a 25-year-old righty. “Just keeps giving me confidence that my stuff plays up here.”

Beeter handed off to Gil, who was the most impressive pitcher on the day.

Luis Gil #81, reacts as he walks off the mound after pitching a scoreless first inning against Tigers.Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

The righty, ready to start his first full season back from Tommy John surgery, was electric through 3 ²/₃ innings in which he allowed one hit and walked one. Of the 11 outs he recorded, eight came via strikeout.

In one fun battle, he got ahead of Bryce Harper with a slider and changeup that both induced whiffs before reaching back for 99.6 mph that blew Harper away.

“Wow. … He was dominant. That was dominant,” Boone said of Gil, who already has been optioned out of major league camp but more so because the Yankees are building him up slowly following the May 2022 surgery. “I kept turning, like, anyone else seeing this?

“You can very easily see him factoring in [to the majors] in some role. I mean, that [stuff] works.”

Phillies bats could not figure out Gil, swinging 26 times and missing 15. He mixed in changeups and sliders but could lean upon the upper-90s fastballs when he needed an out.

“[I felt] excellent, thank God,” Gil said in Spanish, adding that it had been several years since he felt this good.

Back in Tampa, Warren — who might be the most big-league ready of the Yankees’ starting pitcher prospects, but is not yet on the 40-man roster — allowed a run on three hits with three strikeouts against an impressive Orioles lineup.

“I feel like I’ve been ready [for the majors],” said Warren, who pitched in 21 games with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season. “Whenever that time comes, hopefully sooner rather than later, I’m ready to do whatever it takes to win.”

— Additional reporting by Dan Martin in Tampa

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