When Gerrit Cole was drafted first overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2011 MLB draft, he inherited a lot of high expectations. Expectations can be a bad thing for baseball players; Cole dominated the Minor Leagues until he was promoted to Triple-A. However, when he struggled a bit at the highest Minor League level, questions started to surround him.
Did he have the right mindset to be an ace in the Major Leagues? Could he be a good teammate? Why wasn’t he striking everyone out? Those were all questions that experts and fans were asking about the Pirates’ stud pitching prospect before he got to the majors. People thought he was having a bad season in Triple-A, but he really wasn’t. He made 12 starts with the Indianapolis Indians, finishing with a 2.91 ERA; the problem was that he only had a 6.22 K/9. Along with his low strikeout rate, Cole also walked too many hitters, finishing with a 3.71 BB/9.
Cole would eventually be promoted to the MLB after injuries forced him into the rotation. He immediately became the Pirates’ most reliable, consistent starter. For a rookie, he had a ton of composure and little trouble getting outs.
He had a good first half of the season after being called up in June, pitching to a 3.89 ERA, but he only had a 5.4 K/9. Like in the Minor Leagues, people began to question where the strikeouts were. He would soon answer all those questions, not with words, but on the field. In the second half, his ERA was just 2.85 and his K/9 was 8.9.
People weren’t worrying about whether or not Cole was good enough to live up to his expectations anymore; they were debating if he should be a potential Wild Card game starter. He ultimately got passed up for Francisco Liriano to be the Wild Card starter. However, Cole did make two postseason starts, performing great under the immense pressure of the postseason.
Cole would finish the season 10-7 with a 3.22 ERA and a 2.91 FIP. His K/9 was only 7.67, but it got a lot better near the end of the season. He showed great control as well, with just a 2.15 BB/9 in his rookie season. The Pirates have a legitimate ace in Cole if he is able to continue pitching like he did in the second half of the 2013 season.