The New York Yankees were dealt what could be a season-defining blow with Gerrit Cole dealing with an elbow injury. What that injury is remains to be seen, but Cole is set to undergo an MRI on that elbow according to Yankees manager Aaron Boone.

The hope is that the injury is relatively minor and Cole will be back before we know it, but what if it is the worst-case scenario? What if Cole has to miss most, if not the entire year due to injury?

Yankees fear that Gerrit Cole may miss Opening Day due to injury | Marca

The Yankees seemingly had a shot to win the AL East assuming Cole was healthy thanks to additions they made in the offseason, but those chances completely vanish if Cole has to miss substantial time. The only question is, how far will the Yankees fall without the reigning AL Cy Young winner? This is how the AL East shakes up if Cole is out long term.

The Boston Red Sox have finished in last place in each of the last two seasons and three of the last four years. Even if the Cole injury is severe, the Red Sox look like the worst team in the AL East.

New AL East power rankings if Gerrit Cole is out long term

Sure, the Yankees rotation takes a major hit without Cole, but they do have pitchers who can step up like Carlos Rodon, Marcus Stroman, and Nestor Cortes Jr. The Red Sox, on the other hand, do not, and they also happened to lose their ace, Lucas Giolito, for what could be the entire 2024 campaign.

For Boston to seriously compete in the AL East this season they had to upgrade their rotation and simply didn’t do that. You can argue that Giolito was a better bet than Chris Sale to pitch well this season, but the rest of the rotation beyond the top is extremely underwhelming. Now that Giolito is out, it’s downright bad.

Yankees ace Gerrit Cole has elbow scare, will undergo MRI - Pinstripe Alley

The Red Sox will not be among the worst teams in the league because of their offense and their bullpen, but their rotation makes them the obvious weakest link in an incredibly difficult AL East.