Saturday, September 23, 2023

Cole’s Path To Cy Young About More Than Just Yankee Ace

Gerrit Cole pitching against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 12. Photo by Jason Schott.

Gerrit Cole has had his best season in pinstripes, and the Yankees ace's performance against the Toronto Blue Jays cemented his front runner status for the American League Cy Young Award.

Cole went eight innings, in which he allowed just one earned run on two hits and no walks, with nine strikeouts against one of the most powerful offenses in baseball. He retired the first 16 batters he faced, 21 of the first 22 hitters, and 24 of 26 in his outing.

This was the fifth time this season that Cole has thrown at least seven innings and allowed three-or-fewer baserunners, which is the most types of those starts by a pitcher in a single season in Yankee franchise history.

That superb performance ran Cole's record to 14-4, with a 2.75 ERA (earned run average), which is the lowest in the American League, and second overall in the Majors behind San Diego's Blake Snell (2.33). He has thrown 200 innings this season, the second straight season and sixth time in his career that he has reached that plateau, and he has struck out 217 hitters, and allowed just 61 earned runs, 155 hits, and 48 walks.

According to Elias, his 2.75 ERA is the lowest by a Yankee starting pitcher through his first 32 starts of a season in the last 45 years, going back to Ron Guidry's 1.80 ERA to this point in 1978. That season, Guidry won 25 games, which Cole probably could have approached without the 14 no-decisions he accrued this season.

Cole achieved something else no other Yankee has since Guidry. His 25 starts of two-runs-or-fewer this season are the most since Guidry's 26 in 1978, so he could match that in his next start or if he does throw two more outings, could pass it. The only other Yankee in pitcher in history to have 25-plus 2-R-or-fewer outings is Jack Chesbro, who had 28 in 1904.

Yankees Manager Aaron Boone, in his pregame press conference on Friday afternoon, was asked what Cole winning a Cy Young Award would mean to his teammates, and he said, “I think it would mean a lot. You know, they see who he is and what he puts into all of this, abc I think any time you play begins a pitcher of his caliber, an ace, you know, it does make you want to be a little more on top of things, and improve your game, even, on the days he’s pitching, because you know how he’s got a chance to do something special."

The teammates who have the most immediate impact on Cole's success is whoever is behind the plate as part of the squad. The four catchers who have caught cole this year are Jose Trevino, Kyle Higashioka, Ben Rortvedt, and in the final month of the season, prospect Austin Wells.

“So, I think it would mean a lot to the team, certainly the catching group that have, you know - Trevi, and Higgy, and Benny, and now Austin, you know, because a lot goes into getting ready to start and performance, but all the people that pour a lot into helping him get ready, I think would mean a ton.”

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