Gerrit Cole made his second start of the spring for the Yankees on Saturday afternoon and he already looks like he’s in mid-season form.
The Yankees new ace was dominant against the Tigers lineup, striking out two over 2.1 scoreless innings. Cole did allow a pair of singles, but they were both off of very weak contact. Throughout the outing, his fastball ranged from 96 to 98 mph which is a great sign this early in the spring.
Cole really pounded the zone throwing 21 of his 30 pitches for strikes. He got a lot of outs early in the count with his heater but he also worked in some solid changeups. Last season Cole only threw his change a little less than 8% of the time, but it looked like he was making a conscious effort to sprinkle it in more often and spring training is a perfect time to do that.
The Yankees have Cole pitching every fifth day so he’s lined up to start the season opener on March 26th in Baltimore. He’ll make another four starts this spring and his pitch count will increase each outing so he’s all built up and ready to go when the real season begins.
We know Cole is going to lead the way for the Yankees rotation, but they still have to figure out who is going to fill the final two spots on the starting staff. Jordan Montgomery is the heavy favorite to fill the fourth slot and in his second outing of the spring, he looked great as well in a split-squad game against the Red Sox.
Montgomery shut out the Boston lineup over two innings of work and had four strikeouts. He allowed one hit and struck out the side in the second inning to end his day with 41 pitches. Only a couple of the Red Sox regulars were in the lineup, but it was an impressive outing nonetheless for the left-hander.
He looks healthy and ready to make a big impact this year after missing the majority of the last two seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery. It would be huge if Montgomery could replicate or exceed the terrific rookie campaign he had in 2017 with the Yankees already down two of their top starters in James Paxton and Luis Severino.
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We know Sevy is done for the year after undergoing TJ surgery, but Paxton will be back in May or June. Losing Sevy is s big blow but with Montgomery back in the fold, the Yankees rotation still has a chance to be one of the best in the league once Paxton makes his return.