Gerrit Cole’s next outing could come in a rehab game as Yankees ace gets closer to return

Gerrit Cole’s next pitch could come in an actual game.

The right-hander, working his way back from elbow inflammation, could start a rehab assignment as soon as Tuesday after throwing in a simulated game on Thursday. Cole threw 43 pitches, according to NYY Underground’s John Brophy, who watched the ace in Tampa, Fla.

“We’ll see how he recovers now,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone told reporters Thursday, per the YES Network, after talking to Cole earlier in the day. “It sounds like everything went well today. He was pretty pleased with his outing and just how he felt. So assuming everything goes well, good chance at a rehab next.”

It’s not clear where Cole will begin his rehab assignment. However the Yankees’ Single-A, Double-A and Triple-A affiliates are all home on Tuesday.

Cole has not pitched in an actual game since spring training. He started just one game before getting shut down.

The Yankees’ rotation has been remarkable with the reigning Cy Young winner, though the team just lost Clarke Schmidt to a lat strain on Thursday. He won’t throw for 4-6 weeks.

Prior to Thursday’s game against the Angels, Yankees starters had thrown at least five innings while allowing two runs or fewer in 16 straight games. That streak set a major league record.

The Yankees’ rotation also had a 2.69 ERA, the second-best mark in the majors this season.