Gerrit Cole is synonymous with power on the mound. His blistering fastball and devastating slider have made him a force to be reckoned with throughout his MLB career. Yet, like all athletes, Cole’s journey has been marked by moments when his body has failed him. Injuries are an ever-present threat, lurking beneath the surface of every pitch and every outing.

From hamstring strains to the looming concern surrounding his elbow, Cole’s medical history highlights the delicate balance between dominance and vulnerability. Each setback raises questions: Will he return to form? Could this be the injury that irrevocably alters his trajectory? With the latest scare in 2024, a deeper look at the ace’s past injuries offers valuable insights into the risks inherent in his profession.

August 13, 2019: When Gerrit Cole faced his first hamstring injury


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In 2019, Cole was in the midst of a historic season with the Houston Astros. His dominance on the mound was undeniable, with a string of wins and strikeouts gradually propelling him towards Cy Young Award contention. Then, in a shocking turn of events, Cole was scratched mere minutes before his start against the Chicago White Sox on August 13. The reason? A mysterious “right hamstring discomfort.”

The Astros, along with the baseball world, held their breath. Hamstring strains are notoriously common, yet their severity is equally unpredictable. Cole’s injury surfaced as he was warming up, hinting at potential trouble. “I really wasn’t 100 percent ready to go at that point and wasn’t able to ramp it up,” he admitted to MLB.Com, revealing how the hamstring tightness hindered his ability to reach full intensity.

This initial hamstring scare raised several questions. Had Cole’s relentless performance pushed him too hard? Was this a sign of more serious issues to come? Thankfully, the fears were allayed. Cole missed minimal field time, and the injury didn’t seem to hinder his dominance throughout the rest of the 2019 campaign. In a twist of fate, two years down the line, the ace landed on the injured list twice—for very different reasons.

August 2, 2021: Gerrit Cole’s absence due to health protocols before his hamstring struck again

Initially, Cole was tested positive for COVID-19 on August 2, 2021, while playing for the New York Yankees, leading to time away from the team, as governed by MLB’s health protocols prevalent at the time. Upon his return, misfortune struck again—a hamstring strain on the 7th of September limited his effectiveness during a critical stretch of the season.

While not directly linked, the timing of these events raises questions about whether the time off from the virus potentially increased his vulnerability to the hamstring injury. It’s a reminder that injuries can chain together, impacting an athlete in ways that aren’t always immediately apparent.

Cole’s agent, Scott Boras, shed light on the extent of the ace’s 2021 hamstring issue in that year’s MLB General Manager Meetings in November, stating, “Once he popped that hamstring, it really, obviously, you look at his numbers—it had an impact on him.” 

Read More: “Had an Impact on Him”: Gerrit Cole’s Agent Reveals Why His Performance Dropped for New York Yankees

This admission highlights how injuries, even seemingly minor ones, can subtly affect a pitcher’s mechanics and effectiveness. In Cole’s case, the hamstring injury may have contributed to his declining performance down the stretch of the 2021 season.

June 3, 2023: When the Cy Young Award winner struggled to pitch due to painful cramps

In an eerie echo of his past health struggles, Gerrit Cole’s stellar 2023 performance was momentarily derailed when he was forced to exit a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday, June 3rd, after pitching 80 in just six innings due to what were described by market reports as ‘cramps.’ While the immediate diagnosis proved less serious than initially feared, the episode cast a shadow, reminding everyone of Cole’s susceptibility to various injuries.

The incident inevitably brought back memories of his hamstring strains in 2019 and 2021, along with his stint on the injured list due to COVID-19 protocols in 2021. This setback served as a stark reminder of the ever-present fragility that plagues even the most dominant pitchers, leaving fans wondering if this might be a precursor to something more serious—until something really serious did happen this year.

March 11, 2024: How Gerrit Cole facing an elbow injury can change his MLB career

News of the Yankees’ super ace undergoing an MRI on his pitching elbow on March 11, 2024, sent a ripple of unease throughout the baseball world. The elbow is the lifeblood of a pitcher, and any hint of trouble can drastically alter their career trajectory. Even the most durable and dominant arms aren’t immune to the wear and tear of high-intensity pitching. If the MRI reveals significant damage, Cole could face a lengthy recovery process or even surgery, calling into question his ability to regain his elite form.

The repercussions of the predicament could extend beyond Cole himself. This season, the Yankees have been building their pitching rotation around Cole’s consistency and innings-eating prowess. A serious injury would leave a massive void, forcing the team to scramble for a suitable replacement and potentially shifting their entire playoff aspirations.

Read More: Yankees Ace Gerrit Cole’s Ominous MRI: Dissecting Worst-Case Scenarios

For a 33-year-old pitcher entering the latter stages of his career, a major elbow setback could accelerate retirement decisions. The present uncertainty surrounding Gerrit Cole’s future casts a long shadow, demonstrating the fragility of a pitcher’s career and the pivotal role their health plays in shaping their legacy.

Miscellaneous injuries

While Cole’s recent elbow scare has garnered significant attention, it’s important to remember that his injury history extends further back. Cole’s struggles with hamstring issues have been a recurring theme since his breakout 2019 season in Houston.

Even earlier, during his time with the Pittsburgh Pirates, the ace had endured setbacks that highlighted the constant strain on a pitcher’s body. A triceps injury sidelined him at one point in June 2016, and in the same year, he faced a season-ending shutdown due to elbow inflammation in August.


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Right now, the ace’s career stands as a testament to both extraordinary talent and the inherent fragility of the elite pitcher. Sure, Cole’s dynamic arsenal and unrelenting work ethic might have propelled him to the top of his profession. However, injuries have been his constant companion, from early setbacks in Pittsburgh to hamstring troubles and now the looming elbow concern that has emerged later on in his career.


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Read More: “Praying for the Best”: Aaron Judge Delivers Reassuring Update on ‘Perfectionist’ Ace Gerrit Cole’s Scary Situation

Gerrit Cole’s story is an all-too-familiar narrative in baseball, where the brilliance on the mound is always shadowed by the ever-present risk of the pitcher’s arm—and their legacy—hanging in the balance. Will he manage to overcome these challenges and maintain his dominance in his late 30s? Only time holds the answers.