Gerrit Cole toes the rubber this afternoon at George M. Steinbrenner Field against the Toronto Blue Jays, and Yankees fans expect to see the ace back in form after the drubbing he took in his last outing at the hands of the Detroit Tigers.
Back on March 5th, Cole was coming off a week of fever and illness, and the wind was blowing out at Joker Marchant Stadium, as he was tattooed for four home runs, with six hits, one walk and three strikeouts in two innings of work.
Afterwards, reports George A. King III of the NY Post, Cole said:
There is probably an element to we are going to continue to push the fastball, especially this early in spring. They are trying to get timed up on the fastball. That is probably their priority, too. We will have a more normal routine coming off this start. You take it for what it is, learn from it and get better.’’
Pitchers working on the fastball and hitters working on hitting it and “that’s baseball Suzyn,” as spring training sometimes throws up surprising results. Whatever Cole was working on in his last start, only his third of Spring Training, Yankees fans can expect the ace and his fastball to have better results going forward.
Cole features a four-seamer with 97 mph velocity (among his other offerings) and led Major League Baseball in ’19 with 326 strikeouts, a 39.9% strikeout percentage and 13.818 strikeouts per nine innings. According to Wikipedia, “he became the first full-time starting pitcher in MLB history to average more than one and a half strikeouts per inning in a season.”
These are lofty numbers and although Cole finished second behind Justin Verlander for the Cy Young Award, he picked up the richest contract for a pitcher in MLB history when he signed with the Yankees.
Cole last saw this potent Blue Jays’ lineup on June 14, 2019, when he went 6 innings and gave up 2 runs on three hits with 1 walk and 10 strikeouts. Cavan Biggio and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. both got hits off of him in that game, as did Luke Maile, now with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Cole held the Blue Jays to a .125 batting average against and got the win.
Expect Cole to have a short memory about the Tigers loss last week, to be focused on whatever he’s working on today in Spring Training and to be focused on returning to the elite form Yankees fans expect this season.