Yankees ace Gerrit Cole set for season debut Wednesday vs. Orioles

The wait is over: Gerrit Cole will make his season debut for the New York Yankees against the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday.

The reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, on the injured list to start the season with nerve irritation and edema in his right elbow, will take the mound at Yankee Stadium after three rehab starts between Double-A and Triple-A.

Cole was dominant in his last outing Friday for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, giving up one unearned run on two hits with 10 strikeouts and no walks over 4⅓ innings. In all, Cole allowed two runs (one earned) with 19 strikeouts to zero walks across 12⅓ innings in the three outings.

The Yankees had listed their Wednesday starter as "TBA" through Sunday. Manager Aaron Boone said the club was choosing between Cole and Cody Poteet, noting the team was not obligated to rush into a decision. But Cole was the likely choice all along to face the second-place Orioles, just 1½ games behind the Yankees in the AL East, in a pivotal divisional series.

Cole, 33, will return just over three months after he was shut down during spring training in mid-March. The diagnosis, although not the worst possibility, was considered a staggering blow to a club with World Series aspirations. Outside of Cole, the staff ace, there were questions about the team's starting pitching.

But the Yankees' rotation has sparkled in Cole's absence and had the lowest ERA in the majors entering Monday. The group has been led by Luis Gil, Cole's replacement and the early American League Rookie of the Year favorite. The 26-year-old right-hander is 9-1 with an AL-best 2.03 ERA in 14 starts despite leading the majors in walks.

Cole will take Poteet's spot in the rotation. Poteet made three starts for the Yankees in place of Clarke Schmidt, who landed on the injured list with a lat strain. The right-hander surrendered five runs (four earned) over 15 innings in the three outings.