I am guilty of expecting too much from Gerrit Cole in his first few MLB starts. I am not alone either. The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted Cole first overall a few years ago, so the hype should be there. He can touch 100 mph on his fastball at times, he has a nasty slider that he can throw in the low 90s, and even his changeup is in the high 80s. The kid is a flamethrower.
Hype can be good for anyone, but like anything, it’s best if used with proper moderation. Fans created too much hype over Cole, making our expectations for his rookie season far too high.
Pirates GM Neal Huntington told Jon Morosi of Fox Sports a few days ago that he will not be shutting Cole down for the postseason like the Washington Nationals did with Stephen Strasburg in 2012 — although it is a much different situation, as Huntington pointed out, with Strasburg coming off of Tommy John Surgery the season before.
This comes as great news, because unlike the majority of the Pirates’ pitching staff, Cole has been getting better and better as he gets deeper into the season.
While the rest of the pitchers have tailed off a bit, Cole has been a bit of a savior for the Pirates recently. In his first few starts, we were asking, pleading and begging for Cole to strike more batters out. In his first month with the Pirates, June, Cole had a K/9 of just 4.1 — not very impressive, especially for a guy with such electric stuff.
In July, his K/9 went up to 7.5, followed by 7.3 in August. In September, however, he is becoming a great strikeout pitcher. Cole has a 9.7 K/9 in two starts so far.
Cole obviously has the talent to do great things and he is starting to develop into a very good pitcher. We need to remember that the guy is only 23. We have been spoiled with young arms like Strasburg of the Nationals, Matt Harvey of the New York Mets and Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins. Newsflash everyone — Cole isn’t any of those pitchers, and that’s just fine.