Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training Profile: Gerrit Cole
Gerrit Cole got a taste of the MLB last season when he was promoted by the Pittsburgh Pirates after Wandy Rodriguez went down with an injury. Cole started off his career pounding the strike zone with fastballs, and while he wasn’t striking many batters out, he was still very effective because he was limiting walks. After he got comfortable in the big leagues, Cole started to work in some different pitches more often. Once he started using his curveball and slider on a consistent basis, he basically became a man among boys.
When Cole first got called up in June, he had just 4.07 K/9. However, you can tell when he started to use his breaking ball more often; in July, his K/9 rose to 7.47 and by September and October, he was getting 10.97 K/9. He began to scratch the surface of what he can be, and opposing hitters should fear Cole heading into 2014.
Cole has an amazing fastball, nothing else can really be said. He had one of the highest average fastball velocities in 2013, averaging between 96 and 98 miles per hour and occasionally reaching over 100. He also throws a two-seam fastball that averages between 94 and 98 miles per hour.
His offspeed stuff doesn’t even seem like offspeed pitches. They clearly are breaking pitches due to their nasty movement, but even his offspeed pitches are harder than average. His curveball averages about 84 miles per hour and his best breaking pitch, his slider, averages about 90. Whenever Cole has his opponent in a two-strike hole, especially in the second-half of the 2013 season, they knew a slider or a curveball was coming, and they knew where he would throw it. However, they still couldn’t hit it. When Cole throws his outstanding slider down and away from right-handed hitters, it’s essentially unrecognizable to the batter. They can’t lay off of it.
Cole has the makeup and the skills to be a dominant force on the mound, something he showed in the postseason for the Bucs. Nothing he does from this point forward in his career should surprise anyone. The man is a monster. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he contends for the Cy Young award in just his second MLB season in 2014.