On Tuesday, Gerrit Cole had his latest strong start, giving up one earned run in six innings, with four strikeouts and two walks. One the season Cole has a 2.47 ERA in 51 innings, with a 50:15 K/BB ratio.
I tweeted the question of whether Cole should be moved up yesterday, which was a completely stupid thing for me to do. There’s no way Pirates fans are going to say “no” to that. I’ve been getting the “When will Cole move up” question all year.
One comment I frequently get is that the Pirates are slow to promote players. I addressed this a few weeks ago, pointing out that the Pirates are actually pretty aggressive with player promotions, and stick to the industry norm with player promotions.
Gerrit Cole is always going to be compared to his UCLA teammate Trevor Bauer, who was recently promoted from Double-A to Triple-A. But Bauer is the exception. As I pointed out in my last article, it’s not uncommon for a college pitcher to spend some time in high-A. Brian Matusz spent 66.2 innings at the level. Drew Pomeranz spent 77 innings. Alex White had 44 innings.
When I wrote that, Cole was at 36.2 innings. He’s now over 50 innings, putting him in that range with Matusz, Pomeranz, and White.
But let’s forget other players and just focus on the only one that matters here: Cole. Just looking at the numbers, it’s hard to argue in favor of keeping him in high-A. In his last six starts he has a 1.32 ERA in 34 innings, with a 27:9 K/BB ratio. He’s pitched 5+ innings each time, and has given up two or fewer runs. After giving up three homers in his first three games, Cole has given up two homers in his last seven. His strikeouts have dropped a bit in the last three starts, but that certainly hasn’t hurt him, with two earned runs in 17 innings.
Statistically, it doesn’t look like Cole is having any issue with high-A hitting. He’s in that range for an expected promotion. It’s not yet to the point where the Pirates are moving him slow. John Lembo of the Bradenton Herald had a recap of Cole’s last start, and in the story he had a few quotes from Cole admitting that the starts were getting easier. It’s certainly looking easier on the stat sheets. At this point, a Cole promotion would be justified.
Links and Notes
**The Pirates beat the Reds 2-1 today. Kristy Robinson’s notebook looks at A.J. Burnett making an impact on and off the mound.
**Prospect Watch: Alen Hanson homers, and Matt Curry hits three doubles.