Last season, we saw a surprise team in the Washington Nationals shut down their young star pitcher, Stephen Strasburg, for the entire postseason. There was an obvious injury history, but it’s impossible to look back and not question the move, especially now that they’ll miss out on the playoffs.
It’s a mistake that the Pittsburgh Pirates will not be replicating in 2013. The surprising Bucs, who finally shook off so many years of mediocrity, have already clinched their winning season and are basically a lock to clinch a playoff spot out of the National League.
Their young phenom, however, will not be facing a similar fate to that of Strasburg. Gerrit Cole will not be in the starting rotation for the Pirates, at least early in the playoffs, but he’ll be in the mix, rather than shut down like his fireballing predecessor.
Now is the time when we typically see young starting pitchers end up shut down, due to the increased workload that comes when they reach the bigs. That’s not the case with Cole, though, who is in his second full professional season and has already made a career high for starts.
Cole has pitched to very good success with the Pirates in his first year. He’s managed to strike out almost seven hitters per nine, while keeping his walk rate down. He’s pitched to a 3.48 ERA for the year and a 3.18 FIP so far, as he approaches 100 innings on the year.
For the remainder of the year, Cole will likely be on the rotation. The Pirates may even reconsider moving him to the ‘pen for the playoffs. Having an arm like Cole coming out of the bullpen will be an asset for the Pirates when the postseason rolls around, while at the same time taking less of a toll on his arm in his first big league season.
Regardless of his role, at least a talent like Cole will be featured on the big league roster, rather than watching from the clubhouse.