First Impressions: Gerrit Cole

The criteria used to review first impressions of ace Gerrit Cole, the pitcher that Yankees fans have dreamed of for many a season, are different than I originally thought it would be.  

Photo Credit: AP

When Cole came to the Yankees in December, I expected a full rotation that included both Luis Severino and James Paxton.  Needless to say, I was already planning the 2020 World Series victory party as a result. But since the Yanks’ #2 and #3 pitchers in the rotation are both sidelined to start the 2020 season - with Severino out the entirety of the season - Cole will go further under the metaphorical microscope than originally anticipated. 

Now, Cole must be looked at as an ace starting pitcher who has to pick up the slack -- as if the pressure isn’t on him enough already. Probable questions that may float around the Yankees coaching staff, at least until Paxton returns in hopefully May or June, could include the likes of: “Will he be able to pitch on short rest?” “How many innings can he go for before having to bring in the bullpen which is also on short rest?” and, “How will he compliment a diminished staff?”  In addition, as the 2019 "injury curse" continues to plague the Yankees on the offensive side (what with injuries to Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton) the old baseball adage will have to hold true for the Yanks: good pitching has to beat good hitting. A diminished offense makes for fewer chances for big leads and insurance runs.

As such, fans, analysts, and the Yankees coaching staff and front office will likely be looking very closely at his first impressions.  The stakes are even higher than they were before. There’s not much to go on just yet, but the first week of spring training has allowed for at least a glimpse of the Cole that the Yanks have coveted for so long. 

Cole’s most recent outing wasn’t a shining example of what everyone across MLB knows he’s capable of.  On March 5, he gave up four home runs against two Detroit Tigers batters (Miguel Cabrera and Travis Demeritte) within the first two innings of the exhibition game.   In total, Cole allowed six runs on six hits and a walk. Of course, some of the first impressions as a result of this start have led to troll commentary…
But… let’s keep in mind that what’s being analyzed here is a March 5, spring training, exhibition start.  Read: it doesn’t count. Calm down. Cole is still Cole. 

I’m not speaking without evidence, either.  In his first spring training start, Cole logged two strikeouts and a walk, with his highest fastball was clocked at 98 MPH and reached 97 MPH on most throws.  One bad start, and how quickly we forget that we’re talking about the guy who recorded a 2.50 ERA, a career-high 326 strikeouts and a 20-5 record in 2019.  How quickly we forget Cole's 2019 postseason ERA of 1.72, and 47 postseason strikeouts.

As for Cole’s first impressions of the Bombers...
Honestly, I don’t think us fans can ask for more than that, at least for now.

Article by: Mary Grace Donaldson


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