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New York Yankees ace and reigning AL Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole will be activated off the injured list and start Wednesday's game against the Baltimore Orioles, manager Aaron Boone confirmed during his weekly appearance on the Talkin' Yanks podcast. Cole went down with nerve inflammation in his elbow in spring training and has not pitched this season.

Cole struck out 10 batters and allowed one unearned run in 4 1/3 innings in his third minor-league rehab start this past Friday. The most important number: 70, as in 70 pitches. Cole threw 45 pitches and 57 pitches in his first two rehab starts, so he is gradually getting built up. He figures to be on a pitch limit (85-ish pitches?) on Wednesday.

"I guess it's part of (the decision) just because he's not entirely built up obviously. But whatever way we go, I feel like we're in a good position to handle that," Boone said this past weekend (via the New York Post). "... There's a lot of good and smart people involved. I think we've all done a really nice job so far in his buildup and getting him ready. So we'll have those conversations honestly and openly and Gerrit right involved in that."

Of course, the Yankees have been doing more than fine without Cole. They entered Monday's off day with a major league best 50-24 record, and they are allowing only 3.38 runs per game. That's 0.14 runs per game better than any other team. That said, this is Gerrit Cole. He makes every pitching staff better.

The Yankees lost right-hander Clarke Schmidt to a lat strain last month and he is expected to miss at least two months. He made 11 starts with a 2.52 ERA before the injury. Cody Poteet was called up to replace Schmidt and has a 2.14 ERA in four starts. He figures to go down to clear a spot for Cole.

Cole, 33, led the American League in innings (209), ERA (2.63), ERA+ (165), WHIP (0.98), and WAR (7.4) en route to winning the Cy Young unanimously in 2023. He is in Year 5 of a nine-year, $324 million contract.  

The Yankees and Orioles have the two best records in the American League. They'll open an important three-game series at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday.