Last year, the once-dominant ace for the Yankees looked a bit beatable. His performance after the spider-tack ban took a noticeable downward turn and a late hamstring injury left Yankee fans a bit nervous of their ace.
However, while Gerrit Cole looks to bounce back from a rocky 2021 season, his ability to dominate hitters while staying healthy makes him the front runner for the AL Cy Young.
Lack of Competition
The top six starters in baseball that had the best ERA last season currently pitch in the National League. Meanwhile, the former AL Cy Young winners are a bit of a mystery.
Justin Verlander won the AL CY Young Award in 2019, but he hasn’t pitched in nearly two years due to Tommy John surgery. Shane Bieber won it in the Covid shortened 2020, but wasn’t quite able to replicate the same success in a normal season. And finally, while Robbie Ray won it last season, he had never finished in the top 3 of voting for any previous award. He’ll have to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke as he takes his talents out of the AL East.
Best Pitcher in the League
Before the sticky substance ban, Cole had a great first half of the season with a 2.68 ERA and 147 strikeouts in only 114 1/3 innings pitched. He was putting up numbers that were similar of his days on the Houston Astros.
Last April, Cole looked to have found his peak as he struck out 62 batters while only walking two. If Cole posts similar numbers for an entire season, then he is a sure bet to win the award and be the best pitcher in the league.
Once the sticky substance ban came into effect, Cole’s numbers were not as great as they were. He allowed more home runs and saw his earned runs average increase. Although Cole seemed a bit more beatable, the four time All-Star found ways to pitch tough it out and actually had more strikeouts per nine innings in the second half of the season. Cole was also able to find some new success as he earned the highest ground ball rate of his career.
Looking to 2022
With Opening Day upon us, Cole’s lack of historical dominance, lack of competition and a full year without the sticky stuff are he will win the AL CY Young award this season. Meanwhile, if the Yankees want to make a deep Postseason run, they’ll need their Ace to return to form.
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