The Yankees and Pursuing Gerrit Cole
The chase for 28 was once again denied by the Houston Astros. The New York Yankees failed to reach the Fall Classic for the 10th consecutive year, since their 2009 championship. While the Bronx bombers had their chances, they did not capitalize with runners in scoring position throughout the ALCS. However, the lack of clutch hits was not the sole issue for the Yankees in the series loss. New York starters failed to pitch past five innings in four of the six games. While their starter’s ERA was a respectable 3.65, not pitching deep into ballgames surely taxed the bullpen. None of the New York starters threw a single pitch in the 7th inning or later, which meant several appearances for relievers such as Zack Britton, Adam Ottavino, Tommy Kahnle, and Aroldis Chapman.
Opposite of them, the Houston Astros got six or more innings from their starters in all but two games of the series. This equated to a much more rested bullpen than New York throughout the series. Perhaps Houston’s most prominent starter is 29-year-old Gerrit Cole who enters free agency this offseason. Cole will easily be the hottest name on the free agency market come this winter. We know that the Yankees will be one of many clubs in the mix for the current Houston ace. This all leads to an important question as the free agency period nears. Should the Yankees break the bank for Gerrit Cole at all costs?
The case for Gerrit Cole is a simple one. He was the best pitcher in all of baseball for the 2019 season. I imagine guys like Cole’s teammate Justin Verlander, or even Jacob DeGrom would have an opinion of their own on this topic. Though, how can you argue against a guy who didn’t lose a regular season start after May 22nd? His 20-5 overall record wasn’t even close to his most impressive stat either. Cole posted a 2.50 ERA on the year which was good enough for 3rd best in the majors. The Cole Train couldn’t be stopped down the stretch as he went 5-0 in September with a dazzling 1.07 ERA.
As mentioned earlier, Yankees starters struggled to pitch late into ballgames. That was not a problem for Gerrit Cole. He turned in 212 innings, which was 30 innings more than any pitcher on New York’s staff. Baseball fans knew that Cole could whiff opposing batters with ease, but this season was truly spectacular. Cole’s 326 punchouts on the year ranked first overall across baseball. This total was 140 strikeouts more than James Paxton, who led the Yankees staff in that category. Cole enters his age 29 season this March, and will likely shatter the record for biggest contract ever given to a starting pitcher. Some may even argue that his best season could be in front of him. The Yankees have money to spend this offseason, but will they break the bank for Gerrit Cole no matter what salary he demands?
Potential 2020 Rotation
What other starters will New York have back for the 2020 season? The rotation will be anchored by their top 3 starters from this year; Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and Luis Severino. Though, the Yankees will count on Severino to be healthy for a full season this time around. An addition of Gerrit Cole would probably give New York the most fearsome top 4 starters in the AL, if not all of baseball. Their fifth starter would likely come down to a Spring Training competition, or perhaps they would employ the bullpen strategy with regularity.
Adding Cole to the mix would allow New York to do two important things. First, it would give them a frontline ace starter who can eat up innings almost every time he takes the mound. Secondly, it would also serve as a gut-punch to the Houston Astros, who’ve been New York’s stiffest competition in recent years. The Astros are the league’s top team when it comes to not striking out. Likewise, Cole is MLB’s top strikeout artist, and fools batters consistently. Signing Cole would give the Yankees a golden opportunity to fight fire with fire in a postseason showdown with Houston.
Should the Yankees go all in, and break the bank for Gerrit Cole this winter? Absolutely. If you want to win another title, this is a move you simply must make. Nobody said Cole will come cheap, and he certainly won’t. But the current Houston ace would likely be the Yankees biggest free agent signing in a decade. Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman has been accused of pinching pennies the past few winters, but the New York fanbase hopes this trend changes very soon. With Cole, Tanaka, Paxton and Severino the Yankees could roll out the most frightening rotation in all of baseball for 2020. To me, this feels like worthwhile reward, even if you have to break the bank for Gerrit Cole.
Is Gerrit Cole worth the price tag it would take to bring him to New York this winter? Discuss that and more on our forums! For more content, check out the rest of OverTime Heroics. Continue the conversation on Twitter, and follow me here!
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