Any reader of this site knows that we haven't always been the fairest to Yankees ace Gerrit Cole. We've scrutinized moments that probably didn't deserve scrutiny. We've ignored the bigger picture to rage at the now. And we were silenced pretty spectacularly by Cole's 2022 postseason run, which helped to underline a playoff resumé that's growing more spectacular every year.
But even in our darkest hour, we wouldn't insinuate that Blue Jays sinker specialist Kevin Gausman (great pitcher!) is someone we'd rather have on the mound than Cole. Somehow, MLB Network's recently-surveyed fans disagree.
Gausman and Cole have been linked plenty in recent years, but never more than after the 2022 season. Both are 32 years old, but members of different draft classes (Cole was 2011, Gausman went fourth overall in 2012). Both now reside in the AL East. Both tied for ninth in the Cy Young voting to wrap the 2022 season.
But Cole's body of work is stronger and lengthier. Cole has a deeper arsenal. Cole is the better pitcher with the better career.
And though 2014-2021 don't matter much to MLB Network's "Top 10 Right Now" voters, it's still wild to see a Top 10 without Cole and with Gausman in the No. 9 spot. If the lesser one belongs, they both do.
Kevin Gausman shouldn't rank above Yankees' Gerrit Cole in Top 10 Pitchers
Before we get on with this (exhale), yes. I am well aware that Gausman led the league in FIP in 2022.
Gausman's FIP beat Cole's by over a full run this season (2.38 to 3.47), but his ERA was only 0.15 lower (3.35 vs. 3.50). Who was more likely to set foot on mound, though? That was the durable Cole, who hurled an additional 26 regular-season innings (200.2 to 174.2).
Who was more likely to induce the ideal pitcher's outcome of a strikeout? Cole, who led the league with 257 punchouts in a "down" year, dwarfing Gausman's 205.
Who was more likely to keep runners off base? Cole, again, by a wide margin; 1.017 WHIP vs. 1.237. Gausman allowed 188 hits in those 174.2 innings, an unexpectedly high total. Cole? Just 154 (Cole did walk 50 to Gausman's 28).
Clearly, hairs are being split here. Both pitchers are among the league's 15 best. The career edge goes to Cole, unless the voter is wearing Red Sox-colored glasses. The argument can be made -- by one specific metric -- that Gausman had a better season in 2022. But in the postseason, Cole's stuff worked better. The Yankees ace posted 3 ER in 13.1 innings against Cleveland with 16 K, 3 ridiculous ER in 5.0 innings against Houston with 7 K. Gausman? Punished by the Mariners for 4 earned runs in 5.2 a year after the Dodgers knocked him around for the same total in 6.0 innings. When the lights were brightest, Cole shone, thanks in large part to his elevated fastball and swing-and-miss dominance. Gausman didn't. The Yankees' ace is still the starter we'd rather roll with.
Gausman is toward the top of the pack, but a list without Cole lays plain the level of fan disrespect he faces on a daily, weekly, and annual basis. Feet to the fire, there's no doubt the fans who worked to exclude him from this graphic are taking a little bit of glee in realizing they accomplished their goal.
Plus, perhaps we're focused on the wrong target? Maybe Gausman and Cole should both be considered above Framber Valdez and his one good season, which shouldn't earn you the cleanup spot.
Right Now? That's even more annoying than Cole being snubbed.