The overreactions coming from the New York Yankees fanbase are certainly frustrating, but many are valid due to the fact it’s all repetitive from the last few years. Then again, the baseball season is a marathon, so there’s plenty of time for all of this to go away.
But last year’s “marathon” just turned into a repeated nightmare of everyone’s fears, and the team’s first 10 games picked up right where that left off. One of the main culprits of it all is Gerrit Cole, which shouldn’t be the case since he’s the game’s highest-paid pitcher. Fans should simply be sipping piña coladas when Cole steps on the mound without a care in the world.
That’s hardly been the case since the 2020 ALDS, though. Cole, while still very good, has let the team down in some extremely big spots. The home run to Austin Meadows in the ALDS (and constant struggles against the Rays). Last year’s AL Wild Card Game and the buildup to that as the Yankees were fighting for better playoff positioning. These aren’t the kinds of headaches you expect with a $36 million per year pitcher.
Now, at the start of the 2022 season, Cole somehow wasn’t ready for action. He got a late start to spring training despite all the time in the world to prepare with the lockout leaving players to their own devices. That resulted him being on a pitch count for the first two outings of the year against the Red Sox and Blue Jays … with Cole putting the team in a hole early on both times with poor performances.
That didn’t stop Cole from making one of the most hilarious excuses you’ll ever hear, though, which came after he refused to “make an excuse” when asked if his hamstring issue affected his performance in the AL Wild Card Game against Boston.
Nobody was ready for 75+ pitches in their first — or even second! — start. So what if this really Cole’s fault? Or are the Yankees, who were one of a few teams to not have their starting staffs ready for action, to blame here?
Why is Gerrit Cole still working his way up to full strength with the Yankees?
Here we are, approaching Cole’s third start of the 2022 campaign, and here’s what he had to say about having a normalized pitch count:
"“Yeah, could be,” Cole said, via the New York Post. “I don’t know how much rope I have, but I was pleased to get into the sixth last week and I expect to keep the ball rolling like that.”"
“Could be.” Classic Yankees answer. In his first two starts, Cole threw just 68 and 85 pitches against the team’s most heated division rivals and put forth two embarrassing performances. Again, early on. We get it. But why? It’d be easier if we just understood why instead of asking these questions into the void.
Luis Severino and Jameson Taillon had injury concerns, so there was logic baked into that decision. Nestor Cortes pitched a career-high 93 innings last year, so overworking him in the early going might not be a great idea. But a perfectly healthy Cole? And Jordan Montgomery, who was pulled after five scoreless innings and just 71 pitches against the Orioles on Friday? Make it make sense.
This has resulted in the bullpen being taxed in the early going because not ONE starter was primed for the start of the year. Meanwhile, 39-year-old Justin Verlander, who hadn’t pitched since the beginning of 2020 due to Tommy John surgery, has thrown 80 and 87 pitches in his first two starts and went eight scoreless in his most recent.
The Yankees weren’t prepared. Cole wasn’t prepared. It’s a bad look. We’d like to get to the bottom of it. But hopefully it’ll just all go away with Cole buzzsawing the Tigers on Tuesday night.