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Yankees name Luis Gil No. 5 starter to begin season: Righty will fill out rotation hurt by Gerrit Cole injury

The New York Yankees will begin the season with hard-throwing righty Luis Gil as their No. 5 starter, manager Aaron Boone announced Sunday (via the New York Post). Gil will step into the rotation spot vacated by reigning AL CY Young winner Gerrit Cole. Cole will be sidelined until at least late May or early June with nerve inflammation in his elbow.

Gil, 25, made his MLB debut as a COVID replacement in 2021 and had a 3.06 ERA in six starts. He made one spot start in May 2022, then hurt his elbow in his next Triple-A outing, and had Tommy John surgery. Gil completed his rehab late last year and had a terrific spring, posting a 2.31 ERA with 18 strikeouts in 11 2/3 innings to win a rotation spot.

“I’m really happy about it,” Gil said about his spring recently (via MLB.com). “Coming into camp, I mentioned how hard I worked in the offseason to put myself in a really good situation. To me, it was important to have a good start. It’s exciting. I’m very fortunate and happy to have this opportunity.”

It should be noted that, because this is his first full season back from Tommy John surgery, the Yankees handled Gil carefully this spring. He did not throw more than four innings or 63 pitches in any of his appearances. Chances are Gil will be limited to five innings and 75 pitches or so in his first regular season start.

Baseball America ranked Gil the No. 19 prospect in New York’s system entering the spring. They note he “still needs to prove that his changeup and control need to come forward” to reach his ceiling as a starting pitcher, otherwise he could settle in as a power bat-missing reliever. Across his minor-league career, Gil has an elevated 5.4 walks-per-nine-innings rate.

Gil beat out top pitching prospect Will Warren and journeymen Cody Poteet and Luke Weaver for the No. 5 starter’s spot. Warren had a 4.35 ERA with 13 strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings this spring and got stretched out to 71 pitches. He could still make the Opening Day roster as a long reliever, particularly with Gil likely to be on a limited pitch count initially.

Nestor Cortes, an All-Star in 2022, will start Opening Day in Cole’s place. He will be followed in order by Carlos Rodón, Marcus Stroman, Clarke Schmidt, and Gil. The Yankees open the 2024 season in Houston against the Astros on Thursday, March 28.

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