Gerrit Cole’s odd (yet successful) tenure with Yankees hasn’t been enough
Unfortunately, yes, you’re getting another think piece about Gerrit Cole’s confusing (and frustrating) start to his New York Yankees career. But don’t shoot the messenger! These stories have written themselves based on how he’s performed.
From giving up an untimely home run to Austin Meadows in Game 5 of the 2020 ALDS to his far too many blowups in 2021 to his embarrassing start in the AL Wild Card Game against the Boston Red Sox to his complaint about Billy Crystal on Opening Day to his career-worst outing against the Tigers in April, there have been far too many bumps in the road for the sport’s highest-paid pitcher across his first 51 starts with New York.
Cole came to the Yankees to be the team’s undisputed ace, so, naturally, it’s going to be viewed unfavorably when you get beat out by a division rival for the 2021 Cy Young award thanks to a largely flash-in-the-pan season or when you’re far from the team’s ERA leader through nine starts in 2022.
And when you continually can’t pick your team up in what feels like a “must-win” situation while getting paid $36 million a year, fans are going to view it as a negative, regardless of how dramatic they’re being.
Since arriving in New York, Cole has faced the lowly O’s a grand total of seven times and has largely dominated them, but on Monday night, the Yanks really needed a win after their embarrassing doubleheader sweep at the hands of the White Sox on Sunday.
Cole once again got run support, but surrendered five earned runs over eight innings of work in the loss. And somehow it was an historic outing!
Gerrit Cole’s time as the Yankees’ ace just hasn’t been “enough”
He even tied a franchise record (with Mike Mussina!) for the most starts in Yankees history with 10-plus strikeouts and zero walks.
Oh, and he became the third fastest pitcher in American League history to reach 1,000 strikeouts with his 11-whiff performance!
But the compiling of stats hardly means anything when they don’t result in the necessary outcome. Cole wasn’t signed to a record deal to accomplish any of those aforementioned feats (no matter how obscure they are). He was brought here to win big games and stop the bleeding when the offense was struggling. The Yankees hadn’t seen an ace of that caliber take the mound since CC Sabathia in 2009, and lacking in that department held them back for years.
Now they have the physical embodiment and name recognition, but not the wins. To make matters worse, his disillusioned postgame interviews continue to make fans question what in the world is going on.
Aaron Judge gave Cole the lead and then dug him out of a two-run deficit, and that still wasn’t enough for the right-hander to finish his outing unblemished. He, of course, had to give up a homer to Ramon Urias, who is batting .224 with a .616 OPS on the year and is worth a 0.2 WAR, the very next inning. “That’s baseball” just doesn’t begin to describe various bizarre instances Yankees fans have encountered with Cole, whose advanced numbers show the fact he continues to get hit hard (38th percentile in hard hit % and 41st in exit velocity), which is a big problem regardless of how many batters you strike out.
It’s one of the most bizarre and frustrating juxtapositions fans have seen in the sport, and it’s contributed to Cole’s efforts simply not being enough (or “exactly” what the Yankees paid for) as we plow ahead in Year 3 of his contract.