Gerrit Cole’s last two starts were quite different from one another, and if the New York Yankees are going to legitimately compete for a title, he’ll have to perform as he did in the first of his most recent two outings.
One could even assert that with recent injuries and other concerning questions, the second half of Cole’s season will be a major part of his Yankee legacy.
Right before the All-Star Game, he faced a streaky Red Sox lineup that has given him trouble in the past. He almost immediately fanned pesky Sox star Rafael Devers, and went on to deliver seven innings of two-run baseball during which he punched out 12 total batters. Great outing heading into the break after how bad he’s been against Boston.
But last week against the Orioles, the ace struggled and couldn’t generate a great number of swings and misses. Baltimore tallied four runs (three earned) on nine hits and two walks over Cole’s six innings of work (112 pitches). None of this is to say that the headline act of the rotation has been truly “bad” at any point of the season — in fact, he’s been very good at times — but it may be time for his game to reach another strata.
Then again, one can assert that Cole’s desire to stay in against the O’s embodies the kind of second half the Yanks need from him.
Gerrit Cole very badly needs a big second half for the Yankees
The Yankees pitching has been one of the main stories of 2022. However, injuries to the bullpen and guys like Taillon and Montgomery coming back to earth have pushed many to say that trading for pitchers at the deadline is a necessary course of action. Regardless of how one feels about that suggestion, it’s undeniable that a “dominant” second half from Cole at least “lessens” the need for a starter, especially if it means they’ll have a guaranteed workhorse in the postseason.
After last season’s All- Star break, Cole posted a 4.14 ERA. During 2019’s same time period, he boasted a 1.79 mark. As fans remember, that was the precursor to Cole’s magical October with the Houston Astros. This 2022 Yankees would love to enjoy that kind of fall from their $324 million man, especially if the price for another arm is too high come Tuesday 6 p.m. ET.
A lethal second half could put Cole on the right trajectory, just as it has in the past. From another perspective, a strong end to the campaign could also be important for Cole’s standing among the fans. He’s yet to win the “big game” Yankees fans have needed for quite some time (since 2010, to be exact).
Make no mistake, he was brought to New York for brisk October nights. Last year’s meltdown at Fenway Park forced many fans and media members to re-examine Cole’s ability to perform on the biggest stages. Great Yankees pitchers such as Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia have forged their legacy by performing well in the postseason. In many ways, Cole’s Bronx legacy could be defined by this final stretch of the regular season and imminent October run due to the looming questions facing the roster come November.