There Was No Doubt About It

A Pittsburgh Pirates Blog

What Everyone’s Saying About Gerrit Cole

06.11.13 Posted by

So, the big guy’s making his major league debut today. Tim and I will be lucky enough to be there, having snatched up tickets shortly after the announcement was made.

What’s particularly exciting about this is that Cole isn’t being asked to play the role of Bucco savior, the way Andrew McCutchen was when he came up. Cole’s joining a team that’s already ostensibly contending and might just be a piece or two away from being genuinely dangerous. He could be that piece.


Of course, this works both ways. If you’re the kind of person who thinks that amount of pressure a highly touted prospect is exposed to matters, you can argue things either way: maybe it puts more pressure on Cole to be on a team with something to play for, and maybe it puts less on him because he’s not being asked to carry the team on his back and usher in a new era of baseball in the ‘Burgh.

A whole lot of people have observed that his numbers in AAA this year have been insufficiently dominant compared to what you usually want out of a big, splashy pitching prospect. Specifically, that his K rate has taken a nosedive and that his BABIP allowed is unsustainable. Fair observations, but there are any number of reasons not to be alarmed. For one, everyone agrees the stuff is still there. For another, the worry’s based on a grand total of just 68 innings. And for another, we’re not really privy to what he’s being told to do down there. Maybe management wants him developing a new pitch rather than just blowing away the International League with pure gas.

In fact, a fantastic Trib article by Travis Sawchick on Cole’s time in the minors (hat tip to WHYGAVS) lends credence to this last theory:

Cole also has a swing-and-miss upper 80s slider that he has not thrown as frequently so he can focus on developing his other off-speed pitches.

But analysts wonder: Where are the Strasburg-like strikeout totals? Despite the rare stuff, Cole holds a pedestrian rate of 6.2 strikeouts per nine innings in Triple-A.

Filer said he’s not worried about the strikeouts. They’ll come when Cole tightens his command. Cole said the lack of strikeouts is a conscious choice.

Al Skorupa over at RotoGraphs wrote a dishearteningly-titled article a few weeks ago titled Will Gerrit Cole ever be an Ace?, after seeing him pitch. It’s more of a scouting piece than a statistical analysis, which might be why Skorupa isn’t really worried about the strikeouts either, long-term, but thinks the short-term might be bumpy:

Cole shouldn’t have trouble missing bats. This stuff and velocity will play against big leaguers. Early in his career the results won’t match the stuff and there will be some rough starts.

But I think my favorite observation comes from Rumbunter, who makes an interesting point about the timing of the call-up from a fan’s perspective:

All eyes in Pittsburgh will be on PNC Park. The Pens are done. The Steelers are still in the back of everyone’s minds, but for a period of time, the Pittsburgh Pirates have center stage. It’s a very unique opportunity.

Gerrit Cole, center stage. Tonight.

Filed under: Gerrit Cole