Gerrit Cole being ‘baffled’ by Rafael Devers just proves he isn’t a true ace

BOSTON, MA - JULY 7: Gerrit Cole #45 of the New York Yankees looks on before a game against the Boston Red Sox on July 7, 2022 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JULY 7: Gerrit Cole #45 of the New York Yankees looks on before a game against the Boston Red Sox on July 7, 2022 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /

New York Yankees fans really don’t want to be talking about this, but it’d be irresponsible to ignore Gerrit Cole’s performance as well as his postgame comments on Thursday night. Because this is becoming an all-too-familiar occurrence.

Cole is frequently in the crosshairs of fans because of his historic $324 million contract that he’s yet to live up to. Whether you care about the money he’s earning or not, there’s no denying that there are higher expectations that come with a $36 million per year salary. It’s just the way it is.

So when the Yankees open a four-game set against a hobbling Boston Red Sox team with a skeleton crew pitching staff and the offense gives him an early five-run lead, you don’t expect him to quickly give most of it back.

At Fenway on Thursday, the Yankees battered Sox starter Josh Winckowski, who allowed six earned runs on six hits and five walks, including a grand slam off the bat of Josh Donaldson and a solo homer from Aaron Hicks.

After the Bombers put up a five-spot in the top of the third, Cole immediately gave two back by allowing a homer to Rafael Devers, who the right-hander simply cannot get to stop hitting home runs (with two outs, in this case). The Yanks then added another run in the top of the fifth to make it 6-2, then Cole walked the No. 9 hitter and was forced to face Devers again (two outs again!), who cranked a three-run shot to dead center to make it 6-5.

In the end, his line looked similar to Winckowski’s, which, again, is not ace material. Then his helpless postgame when asked about why he can’t get Devers out just further proves he doesn’t have whatever “it” is.

Yankees’ Gerrit Cole being ‘baffled’ by Rafael Devers is embarrassing

Maybe instead of trying to paint the corners against Kevin Plawecki … just do that against Devers? Instead of giving him pitches catching too much of the zone or ones that are going to fall right into his swing plane? You’re scouting this guy, aren’t you? He can handle waiting on a low changeup.

It could just be a case of bad luck … but now it’s getting out of hand. Devers is a great ballplayer. But he’s not an MVP. He’s never even come close. He’s not David Ortiz, Hank Aaron or Barry Bonds. He’s a very good offensive player. A one-time All-Star. All we’re trying to say? There’s no puzzle to solve. That’s where we will leave it.

If you look at Cole’s stats as a Yankee, they’re good! Not spectacular, though. He’s 31-13 with a 3.16 ERA, 3.31 FIP and 1.03 WHIP in 59 starts. He’s struck out 461 batters in 353.2 innings. He’s surely an upper-echelon pitcher.

But he’s constantly out-performed by others across the league. Right now, he’s bested in ERA by 29 other pitchers. WHIP? Fifteen other pitchers. He’s given up the eighth-most homers (16) among qualified starters. So, yeah, postgame nonsense like this continues to be discouraging.

For a good portion of the season, Cole was being out-performed by all his teammates in the rotation. Right now, only the struggling Jameson Taillon is beneath him. He’s walked the most batters of any starter. He’s given up the most homers. Only his strikeout total (124) is leaps and bounds better than everybody else.

Cole was signed to be the unquestioned leader of the Yankees pitching staff, yet his disappointing/insufficient postseason showings have only further put into question his value.

And how about his career marks against the Yankees’ division rivals? We’ve done this exercise before. He’s really only “lights out” against the Orioles. And he doesn’t exactly dominate everyone else he’s supposed to beat:

  • vs Red Sox: 6-3, 4.30 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 80 strikeouts in 12 starts (69 innings)
  • vs Rays: 2-6, 3.66 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 132 strikeouts in 14 starts (86 innings)
  • vs Blue Jays: 5-1, 3.47 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 65 strikeuts in 10 starts (59.2 innings)

We wouldn’t call the Mets a “rival,” but his 6.75 ERA and 1.79 WHIP in six starts against them doesn’t help either!

Yankees fans want to love having Cole atop the rotation, mowing down hitter after hitter with his overpowering arsenal. We’ve seen it before. He does it more times than not, actually.

But when he needs to do it, we’re witnessing more failures than successes. And now that he’s given the Red Sox more ammo to have their fans troll him and the Yankees because of Devers’ historic success against him, Cole’s continuing to float farther away from “true ace” status, regardless of how much David Cone hypes him up on the YES broadcast.

Fans are watching the results unfold before their eyes. They don’t need to be told otherwise as if they’re missing something.