The Pittsburgh Pirates used the No. 1 overall pick in 2011 on right-handed starting pitcher Gerrit Cole, and after pitching at three levels in his first professional season last year he has been on the fast track to the big leagues. But the Pirates enter Sunday’s action with a 37-25 record, with a strong performance from their starting rotation as one of the top reasons, so with everyone healthy Cole has had to wait for his opportunity.
The Pirates have had some injuries hit their starting rotation though, and with Wandy Rodriguez currently sidelined with inflammation in his left forearm Cole has officially been named as the starter for Tuesday night’s game against the San Francisco Giants. Should fantasy baseball owners in need of pitching look to add the highly-touted prospect ahead of his major league debut?
Cole has pitched very well for Triple-A Indianapolis this season, with a 5-3 record and a 2.91 ERA along with 47 strikeouts and 28 walks in 12 starts (68 innings). He has pitched at least six innings and allowed three earned runs or less in seven of his last eight starts, with the one outlier being a May 19 outing when he allowed eight runs in 5.2 innings. Without that one bad outing, Cole has a 2.02 ERA in his other 11 starts.
Cole’s peripheral numbers have not been great to this point (6.2 K/9; 3.7 BB/9), but he put up a 9.3 K/9 rate and 3.1 BB/9 rate in 2012 (including a 10.5 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 for Indianapolis), so some improvement could come in both areas.
If Cole pitches well on Tuesday night, the Pirates may have to make room for him in the starting rotation permanently. In any case fantasy owners who want to add him will have to act quickly, since his ownership percentage has risen dramatically over the last few days and is sure to continue to climb above where it currently sits in Yahoo! leagues (30 percent).
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.