In 2008, during his senior year at Lutheran High School in Orange, California, he went 8-2 with a 0.47 ERA, striking out 121 hitters in 75 innings, walking only eight. Then he committed to UCLA.
In 2008, the Yankees chose Gerrit in the first round, the 28th player chosen overall. But Cole did not sign.
GREW UP A YANKEE FAN
Cole grew up a Yankees fan because his Dad was from upstate New York. But Gerrit grew up in Southern California.
"I went to Angels games all the time,” he said. “I took a lot of flak, especially when the Angels beat the Yankees in the playoffs (in 2002).”
In 2001, a photo that ran in the Newark Star-Ledger showed an 11-year-old Cole at the World Series holding a sign that read, "Yankee Fan Today, Tomorrow, Forever."
He explained that his father grew up in Syracuse, N.Y., a Yankees fan "and he kind of passed it down." So Cole and his father went to the World Series games at Arizona in 2001, hanging out in the lobby of the Yankees' hotel and gawking at the players. Gerrit says his favorite all-time players are Lou Gehrig and Mariano Rivera.
Despite growing up a Yankee fan, Cole did not think twice about spurning the Yankees. Instead, he went to UCLA and spent three springs pitching for the Bruins, helping them go to the College World Series last season and winning the Pacific-10 Conference title this year.
"I wasn't expecting to be taken in the first round and the Yankees really handled it with class when I said no to them," Cole said. "I knew and my family knew that I wasn't ready for professional baseball. I wanted to go to college. It just wasn't time."
Cole went 21-20 with a 3.38 ERA in 50 games, 49 starts, during his three seasons at UCLA. The statistics might not have been overwhelming, but Cole's stock only rose with scouts as his fastball reached 100 mph this spring to go with a hard slider and a developing changeup. (John Perrotto-Beaver County Times-6/7/11)
Cole is mature both on and off the field, becoming a clubhouse leader.
In June 2011, Cole was only hours away from becoming the first pick in the MLB draft when he got a text from a friend.
Yankees vice president of scouting Damon Oppenheimer was checking in to wish the UCLA righthander good luck before he was selected by the Pirates.
It says a lot about Oppenheimer that he stays in touch with Cole. It also says a lot about Cole because he and his family respectfully declined to negotiate with Oppenheimer for three years after the Yankees selected the hard thrower in the first round of the 2008 draft following his senior season at Lutheran High School in Orange, California.
In 2012 and 2013,Baseball America rated Cole as the #1 prospect in the Pirates' organization.
In July 2012, Cole had an interesting first two starts at Double-A for the Altoona Curve (EL-Pirates). The lights went out at Peoples Gas Park in Altoona in Cole's first game with the Curve, causing a delay. In his next outing, he was hit in the neck by a line drive, though he sustained no injury beyond a bruise.
Gerrit said that playing pro ball has not been that easy. "It's a different game than college," Cole said in July 2012. "The speed of the game is faster. The hitters are better. The competition is better. The biggest adjustment has been to see how my pitches work in a different environment, facing professional hitters with wood bats. It's still a learning process."
One thing that hasn't changed about Cole from his college days is his almost split personality. Off the field, the 6-foot-6 Cole is quite genial. When he's pitching, though, he stomps around the mound with a scowl on his face and is as intimidating as his size would suggest.
"I'm a competitor and I think everyone who makes it to professional baseball is a competitor," he said. "That's what drives you to make it this far. You have to love the competition and you don't get better competition than in pro ball."
August 22, 2015: With the two teams locked in a battle for a Wild Card spot, the Giants-Pirates game was a big one for both Pittsburgh starter Gerrit Cole and San Francisco shortstop Brandon Crawford. But it was also an important game for Amy Crawford, Brandon's sister and Cole's fiancé. She was in attendance at PNC Park, and had to watch blood and beau collide.
Ever the protective brother, Brandon attempted to send Cole a warning early, blasting a pitch deep to left field. Thankfully, though, cooler heads/the awesomeness of Starling Marte prevailed, and the baseball was caught at the fence. Cole answered by striking out Crawford in his next two at-bats, and Pittsburgh ended up getting the win on a Marte walk-off. We can only hope this won't spill over to the wedding. (Chris Landers)
November 12, 2016: Cole married Crawford's sister, Amy.
2018: When brothers-in law Brandon Crawford and Gerrit Cole face each other, most recently when the Giants play the Astros. It's fun to talk about, no?
"It's more fun for family, I think, than it is for us," Crawford said. "It doesn't help that he's a really good pitcher—probably one of the best in baseball this year. That doesn't add to the fun of it for me."
Still, it must be strange for Cole to look to home plate and see someone [his wife's brother] so important to him on a personal level, and be tasked with making sure that person has a bad experience at the plate.
Is it weird? "I've been asked that question for like five years now, and I can't really come up with a word that kind of encapsulates," Cole said. "I think it's probably hard for both of us to block out the idea. I root for him, he roots for me and now we're not rooting for each other anymore. Amy [his wife] certainly gets put in a little bit of a predicament as well."
Ah, yes. So what does Amy do when her husband is on the mound, pitching to her brother? "I don't know what she tells him, but she tells me that she roots for me to get a hit but not drive anybody in, and for him to win," Crawford said.
That's pretty much Cole's understanding as well. "She's rooting for the most positive outcome for each of us that doesn't have an effect on the game," Cole said. "She wants us both to do well, but not really at the expense of each other."
During an off-day on May 21, 2018, the Coles and Crawfords planned to spend that evening together in Houston. Thay'll likely stick to less complicated subjects than baseball.
What's important is that while they're not friends on the field, when they're away from the park, they have genuine affection for each other. "He's a consummate professional," Cole said. "A good husband, a great dad. A good example to look up to." (Footer - mlb.com - 5/21/18)
MEETS VIN SCULLY
- Cole grew up in Newport Beach, California. Gerrit grew up as a Yankees fan and in May 2014 got to pitch, and win, in Yankee Stadium. Then, on May 30, Cole got to pitch, and win, in Dodger Stadium.
Childhood dreams rarely pan out so perfectly. When asked what was the best part of his Dodger Stadium experience, however, Cole had a quick response: It was still to come.
"Vin [Scully] calling the game, that's something I'll definitely go and watch and hear what stories he's got on me, then wonder how the heck he got them," said Cole, who, as any Southern Californian baseball fan of the last 57 years, grew up listening to the incomparable redhead.
Told of Cole's homage to him, Scully said, "That's tremendous. How nice of him to say that. You can tell him I told the story about him holding up a sign as an 11-year-old at the 2001 World Series that read, 'Yankees fan today, tomorrow, forever.' "
For Cole, the only thing better than having Scully describe his win would have been a chance to meet the man. But Scully's work this series is getting curtailed by games being broadcast on network TV.
"Maybe next time," Cole said, smiling. "I'll be around here again." (May 30, 2014 - Tom Singer MLB.com)
Gerrit is rarely star-struck. He'd only been nervous before meeting two people: Nolan Ryan and Derek Jeter. He added a third name to that list in August 2016: Vin Scully.
Cole, who grew up watching Dodgers and Angels games in Southern California, stepped into the press-level booth at Dodger Stadium and chatted with Scully, the legendary baseball broadcaster in his 67th and final season on the job.
"I didn't really even know what to say," Cole said. "I had a few questions prepared, but I felt like they were really standard, vanilla questions that everybody asks. Just that voice. You grow up listening to it. When you turned to the Dodgers game, it was the big leagues because Vin was doing it. There was just something about it. Nobody talked. Everybody listened when the TV was on and we were watching the Dodgers game."
Cole spoke with reverence about Scully's style and stories. He was dumbfounded when Scully—a man who narrated Jackie Robinson's story, Kirk Gibson's home run, and countless other historical baseball moments—said he enjoyed watching the "local boy" Cole.
"He was really looking forward to watching me play this series because he remembered me," Cole said. "I was like, 'What the ... come on.'" They had never met. But Scully had been a part of Cole's life long before their meeting. "I feel like I know him, right?" Cole said.
Even today, the California kid still falls asleep listening to the Hall of Famer's Dodgers broadcasts. "I told him that," Cole said. "He was like, 'Yeah, I get it all the time; people used to tell me in the 1950s they'd put the transistor radio underneath their pillow and fall asleep. My contribution to the world is helping cure insomnia.'" (Berry - MLB.com - 8/14/16)
Leadership Role: When Jameson Taillon arrives at the ballpark each day, he looks forward to hearing from Gerrit Cole. It's a form of entertainment, part master class and part guessing game.
One day, Taillon said, Cole will be breaking down his baserunning. The next day, he's focusing on his bunting form. Then it's the shape of his breaking ball, his changeup, how he takes the ball out of his glove, everything down to the way he puts his hand into his glove.
"He's a smart dude. He's very analytical," Taillon said. "He's a thinker. There's always something going on in his brain."
Cole was be counted on to lead a young rotation as the Pirates' Opening Day starter. He's already taken on that role in Pittsburgh's clubhouse, where teammates value his leadership, intensity and attention to detail. (Adam Berry - MLB.com - March 22, 2017)
The nickname "Cole Train." Where did that come from? Shortly after his Major League debut in 2013, Cole was approached by Tom Singer, the Pirates beat reporter for MLB.com from 2012-2015 who passed away suddenly in February 2016.
Singer was the clever mind behind Francisco Rodriguez's ubiquitous "K-Rod" moniker, and he wanted to run a nickname by Cole, the former No. 1 overall pick out of Singer's beloved UCLA. How did Gerrit feel about Cole Train? Cole gave his blessing, and Singer kept writing it until it picked up steam.
COLLEGE TEAMMATES WITH BAUER
May 27, 2018: For the past few weeks, you could see something special "Bruin." When Trevor Bauer used his Twitter account to insinuate—purposely or otherwise—that his former UCLA teammate Gerrit Cole and other Astros pitchers were using pine tar to improve their spin rates, you didn't have to look too deep into the schedule to see the potential for a Bauer vs. Houston or even a Bauer vs. Cole matchup. And because it wasn't exactly a state secret that Bauer and Cole, who have never faced each other, weren't exactly buddy-buddy in their Bruins days, that was a tantalizing proposition.
Finally it arrives: Bauer vs. Cole at 1:10 p.m. ET in the finale of a four-game set at Progressive Field. It is more than just a pairing of pitchers rising to the ranks of the elite on clubs that might be bound for an October affair (although that would be enticing enough). It is a matchup that places national attention on the strained relationship between these former collegiate co-aces and the UCLA program that they once elevated. "They were program changers, both of them," UCLA coach John Savage said. "I know UCLA is very proud of them and excited not only for now, but for their bright future."
Ah, but what of the past? It's all anybody has seemed to want to talk about from the day earlier this week that it became certain that the probable's had properly aligned. Specifically, there was a USA Today story that exaggeratedly claimed the two won't speak about or even look at each other. "I talked to him at the [UCLA] alumni game this year and had a pleasant conversation about arbitration and what he was thinking for his number and my number, and stuff like that," Bauer said. "It was pleasant. I didn't sense any animosity on either end. So, yeah, it's a storyline. I get it. It's fun to write about, because you can play up the controversy and you can get a headline to click on, or whatever."
Cole wasn't as direct in speaking about the relationship between the two, but he noted that this is consecutive starts for him that have a bit of a personal touch, for better or worse. "I had enough to worry about [last start] against the Giants with my brother-in-law [Brandon Crawford] in that game," Cole said. "But obviously, playing the Indians, I'll treat it like any other start or opponent. I'm fortunate to lock up against a fantastic pitcher, so you know you're going to have to be on your game."
Just a week ahead of the draft, Cole and Bauer are reminders that the pitching path, in particular, is not always linear, but elite arms who put in the work, stay healthy and adapt along the way can do big things in the game. Bauer and Cole, who went number 1 and number 3 overall in the draft, publicly express respect toward each other for putting it all together in 2018. That doesn't mean they've become pals. Hardly. After the Twitter flap, the Astros, in general, aren't big fans of Bauer, though Cole addressed that issue as diplomatically as he could. "It would be irresponsible for me to comment on somebody else's opinions," Cole said.
Even when explaining he has "nothing against Gerrit," Bauer brought up an old wound. "We had a rocky relationship in college, because he told me I have no future in baseball, and he insulted my work ethic," Bauer said. "Those are two things I don't take kindly to." One reason this issue draws so much attention is that the game is relatively short on genuine strife between rival players. MLB might have a rule against fraternization between opposing players in uniform, but co-mingling is commonplace during pregame batting practice. So, yeah, there's something kind of fun about a little healthy discord. But how rocky was it, anyway?
"Hate is a strong word, and I don't think it's the right word in this scenario," Savage said. "At the end of the day, they were both Bruins. They respected each other, and the program. They wanted to get to [the College World Series in] Omaha, and they knew they needed each other in many ways. I think they both were motivated by each other."
If that's the case, it worked. Bauer skipped his senior year of high school to enroll early at UCLA. Cole passed up the opportunity to sign with the Yankees for around $4 million as a first-round draft pick to go to school. Together, they pitched for a UCLA program that had struggled to attain traction in the College World Series all the way to the National Championship Series, where they were runners-up in 2010. "Cole was our Friday guy, Bauer was our Saturday guy, and [Adam] Plutko was our Sunday guy," Savage said, "so it was a pretty good chance we were going to win that series each week."
Plutko, who was a freshman when Bauer and Cole were juniors, is now a rookie in the Tribe rotation. As in his early UCLA days, he'll have one of the best seats in the house watching Bauer and Cole do their thing. "They did it in completely different ways," said Plutko, who was on the 2013 UCLA team that won the school's first national championship. "Gerrit was up to 102 mph some games in college, and then Trevor would go out there and punch out 16. And that was the weekend."
Whatever their personal history, Bauer and Cole both agree this is an awesome moment for UCLA baseball and a reminder of what they once accomplished together. "It was a special time," Cole said. "It was historic, and really, we were just really competitive as a team and wanted to take the program to the next level. We were fortunate to do that. [Bauer] was such a special talent that junior year. That curveball, what he did that year, I don't know if it can be replicated. So this is great recognition for the program and for Coach Savage."
Added Bauer: "For the tapestry of our lives, whether we want to be or not, we're intertwined." That'll certainly be true. (A Castrovince - MLB.com - May 27, 2018)
July 2018: Cole was selected to play in the MLB All-Star game.
July 2019: Cole represented the Astros in the All-Star Game.
TOP FREE AGENT
Dec 10, 2019: This time, it was different for the Yankees. Gerrit Cole was that perfect fit that comes along every decade or so. They'd passed on other big names in recent years, including David Price and Max Scherzer. Nothing personal. Sometimes, it was timing; other times, the market.
From the moment general manager Brian Cashman telephoned agent Scott Boras to begin discussions that would result in Cole agreeing to a record-setting nine-year, $324 million deal, he made it clear that Cole was that generational player the Yankees would move heaven and earth to sign.
The Yankees hadn't signed the clear No. 1 free-agent pitcher since giving CC Sabathia a seven-year, $161 million deal on December 10, 2008. Similarities? At the time, Sabathia seemed inclined to return to Southern California until the Yankees gave him the recruiting pitch to end all recruiting pitches. They compelled him to envision what it would be like to play for the most famous and successful sports franchise on earth. They showed him that the Yankees spare no expense. Not just in putting together rosters, but in medical care, player comforts, etc.
And of course, that winning tradition. Sabathia won 19 games and threw 230 innings that first season in New York. In five postseason starts, he had a microscopic 1.98 ERA and helped the Yankees win their 27th World Series title.
During Sabathia's 11 seasons, the Yankees would win more games than any other team in baseball (1,024) and go to the postseason eight times. In Sabathia's first four seasons in New York, he was everything the Yankees hoped for, going 74-29 and averaging 226 innings and 205 strikeouts.
Now with Sabathia having retired after 19 seasons, Cole may have reminded them of the big lefty. Sabathia was 28 when he joined the Yankees, a year younger than Cole is now. In other ways, though, they are similar. Both are ferocious competitors who pride themselves on being at their best when the stakes are the highest and the lights the brightest.
In two seasons with the Astros, Cole was 35-10 with a 2.68 ERA. He averaged 13.1 strikeouts per nine innings and less than one baserunner per inning. He had at least 10 strikeouts in 21 of his 33 starts in 2019, and as MLB.com's Sarah Langs pointed out, the Yankees' single-season record is nine by David Cone in 1998. Cole's 97.1-mph fastball average was the second-highest in the game, and the seven scoreless innings he dealt against the Yankees in Game 3 of the ALCS helped Houston return to the World Series for the second time in three years.
Astros manager AJ Hinch said removing Cole from any game was among the most difficult things he'd done. He recalled a game in Oakland when he walked to the mound and wanted the baseball, explaining that he liked a certain relief pitcher's breaking pitch against the hitter in the on-deck circle.
"I got this," Cole said.
Hinch returned to the dugout and watched Cole strike out the hitter on a curveball. When Cole stepped into the dugout after the inning, he said something like, "I've got a curveball, too."
Some will question the wisdom of giving a 29-year-old pitcher a nine-year contract. So yes, there's risk. But what the Yankees also just did was put the best pitcher in baseball atop their rotation and position themselves to win their first World Series since 2009.
Cole had said that the No. 1 thing he was seeking in free agency was a chance to win. Yes, he got $324 million. But he's that rare athlete at the pinnacle of his career, and because of that, he could probably have dictated the terms of his deal. When all was said and done, the Yankees convinced him that this was the right place and the right time.
He'd grown up a Yankee fan, but didn't sign with them when they drafted him out of high school in 2008. As an 11-year-old, he attended the 2001 Yankees-D-backs World Series Game 7 in Phoenix and was photographed holding a sign that read, "Yankee Fan Today, Tomorrow, Forever." (R Justice - MLB.com - Dec 10, 2019)
Nov. 10, 2019: Baseball had never before had an official star squad that salutes a full season's worth of work the way other major professional sports do. But the results of the voting for the first All-MLB Team finally arrived at the Winter Meetings. The Astros Cole was named to the first team starting pitching group.
Dec 30, 2019: When the Yankees were internally discussing the astronomical dollar figures that would eventually convince Gerrit Cole to select the pinstripes for 2020 and beyond, managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said that he identified the standout pitcher as “a game-changer” who would help the franchise scale the mountain in its pursuit of a 28th World Series championship.
Steinbrenner and the Yankees are convinced that adding Cole to the group that produced 103 regular-season victories will produce a different outcome in October, where the Bombers have had their runs ended by the Astros twice in the past three years. Recent celebratory tweets from New York stars like Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres only serve to underscore how Cole has added to the Yanks’ surging confidence.
“I think there's no doubt we've got an excellent core,” Steinbrenner said. “We didn't make it all the way last year, didn't get the ultimate job done, but we had a great season. There's going to be more to come and, yes, we have an incredible team right here right now. Clearly, I felt that it was time to strike and really get that final big piece that can make a difference.”
What are the expectations for Cole?
The bar will be set extremely high, considering his salary and the fact that Steinbrenner said he expects to win multiple World Series titles during Cole’s time in pinstripes.
On the mound, Cole has few parallels. In 2019, Cole was 20-5 with an AL-leading 2.50 ERA in 33 starts, pacing the Majors with 326 strikeouts in 212 innings. Off the field, Cole has convinced the Yankees that he will be able to handle New York’s bright lights and serve as an important part of their clubhouse mix.
“As excited as I am to be able to hand him the ball every fifth day, I'm equally as excited to see what he brings behind the scenes, adding to what I feel like is a room full of guys that have a lot of championship qualities,” manager Aaron Boone said. (B Hoch - MLB.com - Dec 30, 2019)
Gerrit has to stay loose while waiting for baseball to resume, just like everyone else [during the coronavirus time]. So how does the hard-throwing right-hander do it? He's got a partner to play catch with, and it happens to be his partner in life, too.
Gerrit's wife, Amy, tossed the baseball around with him on March 21, 2020, and it was filmed by manager Aaron Boone; it was clear Gerrit isn't the only one of them with a great arm.
“I had to do something, so I figured I’d film them,” Boone said. The Yankees skipper had paid a visit to his ace righthander’s new home that afternoon. “They’re a pretty athletic duo, going at it there on the front lawn.”
Amy has baseball in the blood. Not only is her husband a star in the Major Leagues, but her brother is Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford. Amy also played softball at UCLA, which is where she met Gerrit. Not surprisingly, she was also a pitcher. In 2010, Amy helped the Bruins win the Women's College World Series. (Randhawa - mlb.com - 3/23/2020)
Cole said that his passion for fine wines began at home; his father, Mark, recently became a certified sommelier and his mother, Sharon, would frequently host big Italian dinners each week.
“My parents always had a glass of wine with dinner,” Cole said. “My dad would have my sister [Erin] and I cook with him on the weekends; we'd make some bigger meals. He was always into pairing wines and stuff. When I signed, I built them a wine room off the house and kind of accelerated his passion from there. I think the history of it is really fascinating in the sense that it's just grape juice, and we've been doing it for thousands of years.”
Though Cole classifies it as a hobby, he clearly knows his stuff, rattling off the world’s prestigious wine-making regions like they were names in an opposing lineup. On several occasions during Spring Training, Cole visited a popular wine store about two miles from Steinbrenner Field, relaxing by searching for favored labels and years to add to his collection.
“I've gotten to know a good handful of producers,” Cole said. “As technical as you can get with some of the ways we can grow grapes, especially in the U.S., some of the best wines in the world are still made by the hands of small organic farmers in the middle of Burgundy or in the middle of Bordeaux. It’s always a good topic of conversation. We're always looking for something else to talk about other than just baseball.”
For example, Cole said that he calls upon retired first baseman Justin Morneau for choices from California’s Napa Valley and French wines, adding that Astros pitcher Zack Greinke opened his eyes to Burgundy and pinot noir. The Pirates’ Jameson Taillon has been known to swap recommendations for daily drinkers, and Cole said that Yankees pitcher J.A. Happ expressed interest this spring.
“It’s kind of a community; we all share ideas, and everybody usually asks me what my dad's opinion is, because he's versed in everything,” Cole said.
As Cole continues to uncork fastballs in the front yard of his Connecticut home, waiting for the opportunity to throw his first regular-season pitch in a Yankees uniform, he said that the Yankees’ December gift remains unopened. Amy is pregnant with the couple’s first child, and Cole promised to keep the Masseto sealed until they can savor it together.
“She told me to hold off,” Cole said. “We'll probably open it at some point this year.” (Bryan Hoch - April 15, 2020)
July 31, 2020: A voice very familiar to Yankees fans sang the national anthem before the home opener against the Red Sox.
Suzyn Waldman, the Yankees trailblazing radio color analyst, was behind the microphone in a different capacity. It’s actually not the first time Waldman has performed the national anthem. She’s performed at several previous Yankees home games and at other ballparks around MLB. But this night was different for a couple reasons.
First, she was required to perform from the radio booth since she does not have access to the field due to MLB’s health and safety protocols. Second, the request for Waldman to sing was made by a Yankees player, not the organization, and it was nearly a decade in the making.
That player? Gerrit Cole.
According to NJ.com’s Randy Miller, the request goes back nine years to when Cole was just starting his professional career with the Pirates.
This all was set in motion in 2008 when the Yankees picked Cole in the first round of the draft and his personality impressed Waldman during a media conference call. Cole ended up not signing with the Yanks to attend college, then joined the Pirates organization after being picked first overall as a UCLA junior in 2011. The next spring, Cole was a non-roster invitee to Pirates spring training in Bradenton, Fla., and it was there that he was approached by Waldman prior to a Yankees-Bucs Grapefruit League game.
“You’re going to make a great Yankee when you get to be a free agent,” Waldman told Cole.
A Yankees fan as a kid even though he grew up in Southern California, Cole knew that Waldman had performed on Broadway, so he responded, “If I do, you have to sing the national anthem on Opening Day.”
Though no official promise was made, Cole, who grew up a Yankees fan, made the moment possible when he inked a free-agent deal with the Yankees, just as Waldman had predicted. Cole's request became a reality and Waldman’s performance left those listening in awe.
High school teammates. Once teammates during their respective high school careers, Gerrit Cole and Kyle Higashioka have reunited on baseball’s biggest stage with the Yankees.
“It's been fun to throw to Kyle; I was throwing to Kyle when I was like 13 or 14."
Long before they were granted entry to big league clubhouses, Cole and Higashioka took the field together as members of an Angels scout team in Orange County. Cole attended Orange Lutheran High in Orange, Calif., while Higashioka took classes at nearby Edison High in Huntington Beach, Calif. Cole and Higashioka played together on a squad that also carried an outfielder from Long Beach, Calif., Aaron Hicks.
“We've actually known each other for a while,” Higashioka said. “In the beginning, it was just cool to see a familiar face. I think we have a pretty good understanding of how each other likes to attack the hitters. I think it's just a constant dialogue that helps us be on the same page.”
Spring Training 2021: “Gerrit isn’t one of the best pitchers in baseball just because of his stuff,” his former manager with the Astros, Brad Hinch said. “That’s the easy thing to evaluate. Gerrit is elite because of his mindfulness to every detail. His understanding of the game is extraordinary.
"The way he challenges himself to prepare is special. He throws every pitch with a purpose and for a reason. He sees everything on the days he pitches and, more importantly, on the days he doesn’t. He pitches with just enough intensity to keep him on the edge, yet doesn’t ever lose his focus.” Then Hinch added this: “I really enjoyed my time with him and learned a lot from him about what it takes to be elite on the mound.” (Lupica - mlb.com - 3/23/2021)
July 2021: Cole was chosen to pitch in the All-Star Game.
June 2011: The Pirates made Cole the #1 pick in the draft. And they signed him, via scout Rick Allen, on the August 15 deadline, for an $8 million signing bonus. Cole can make more than $9 million in guaranteed money if he reaches the Majors by 2013 (which he did). Cole's deal was a Minor League one, though it is the highest-paying Minor League deal ever handed out.
Jan 13, 2016: Cole and the Pirates avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year deal for $3.75 million.
January 2017: Gerrit and the Buccos again avoided arbitration, signing another one-year, $3.75 million deal.
Jan 13, 2018: The Pirates dealt Cole to the Astros; acquiring righthander Joe Musgrove, third baseman Colin Moran, reliever Michael Feliz, and outfield prospect Jason Martin.
Feb 14, 2019: By winning his arbitration case against the Astros, pitcher Gerrit Cole stands to make $2 million more this season than if he'd lost. That's a significant victory for Cole, who will double his salary this year and make $13.5 million. And a significant victory for other players to come, the veteran pitcher said.
Oct 31, 2019: Cole chose free agency. turning down the Astros’ $17.8-million qualifying offer for 2020 .
- Dec 11, 2019: Cole and the Yankees agreed to a record-setting nine-year, $324 million contract, The pact includes a full no-trade clause, and establishes new high marks in terms of total contract value for a free-agent starting pitcher and average annual value for any free agent ($36 million per year). Cole can opt out after the fifth year of the deal.)
|Birth City:||Newport Beach, CA|
|Draft:||Pirates #1 - 2011 - Out of UCLA|
Cole has a 94-102 mph four-seam FASTBALL that has natural arm-side run with extra life at the end. He also has a 91-95 mph two-seam sinker. And he has an 87-90 mph power SLIDER that is a nasty pitch with good depth and sharp darting movement coming from his three-quarters arm slot. His biting, late-breaking 80-83 mph CURVEBALL with depth. He also has good movement on his fairly decent 88-91 mph CHANGEUP with good arm speed.
Gerrit's sinker is an 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale. And most scouts give his swing-and-miss slider a 70 because of the two-plane break. It drops off the table just as it reaches home plate.
Cole can tell you his two-seamer is coming and you can’t do anything about it. He can throw it in, backdoor it, front door it to a lefty. (May 2016)
2016 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 50.2% of the time; Sinker 16.6% of the time; Change 5.3%; Slider 17.9%; and Curve 10% of the time.
2017 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 43.2% of the time; Sinker 16.5% of the time; Change 10.7%; Slider 17.4%; and Curve 12.1% of the time.
2018 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 53.5% of the time; Sinker 2.8%; Change 4.6%; Slider 19.7%; and his Curve 19.4% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 97.1 mph, Sinker 96.7, Change 88.3, Slider 89.3, and Curve 83 mph.
2019 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 54.1% of the time; Sinker less than 1%; Change 7%; Slider 23.1%; and his Curve 15.5% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 97.4 mph, Sinker 96.2, Change 88.8, Slider 89.4, and Curve 83 mph.
2020 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 52.6% of the time; Change 6.5%; Slider 22.4%; and his Curve 18.5% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 97 mph, Change 88.7, Slider 89, and Curve 83.6 mph.
During 2013 Spring Training, Baseball America rated Cole's fastball at 80, his slider at 70, and his changeup at 50 on the scale. His control was a 55 with his command at 50.
2011: Gerrit had some effort in his delivery in high school, but he smoothed down his mechanics at UCLA. He has very rapid arm speed that is quite impressive.
He has a simple, clean and repeatable delivery. But he has spells where he begins flying open with his front shoulder and loses command of his pitches. He also tends to drive too much off his back leg, causing his stiff front leg/foot to land hard and that also affects his ability to put his pitches where he wants. (John Perrotto-Baseball America-11/21/11)
Gerrit maintains velocity and pitch movement deep into games, but he has inconsistent command and a tendency to run up high pitch counts.
2013: Cole is a real competitor and pitches with a lot of confidence. He maintains his composure on the mound, maintaining a solid demeanor, most of the time. But other times, when calls don’t go his way, it shows in Cole’s body language
“That doesn’t fly in the big leagues,” Indianapolis manager Dean Treanor said during the 2013 season. “There’s a maturity that needs to take place, experience-wise and personality-wise.”
- The case against Gerrit Cole in 2013: Opposing managers and scouts worry that Cole’s stuff doesn’t force hitters to speed up and slow down their bats. If you’re facing Cole, you gear up for the fastball and hard slider, while his changeup is hard enough that hitters can sometimes foul it off while looking fastball.
More disconcerting is the fact that hitters seem to catch up to his fastball more often than they should. Scouts said they too often saw bottom-of-the-order hitters square up Cole’s fastball, when logic would say they would simply be blown away by Cole’s 100 mph heat.
Some scouts described it as a function of Cole’s delivery. Hitters see the ball for a long time before his release point. (J.J. Cooper-Baseball America-10/16/12)
Gerrit keeps the ball in the park, allowing very few home runs.
2013: Cole, who made his Major League debut with the Pirates in June 2013, is the first to beat Cy Young winners in his first two starts, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Cole beat San Francisco's Tim Lincecum in his debut and followed that with a victory over the Dodgers’ Zack Greinke.
June 29, 2013: Gerrit became the first Pirates pitcher in more than a century to win his first four career starts.
September 10, 2013: Cole was the first Pittsburgh rookie in 30 years to not allow a run while striking out at least nine batters. The last to do it was Jose DeLeon, who fanned 13 in a two-hit shutout of the Reds on Aug. 20, 1983.
Gerrit has learned how to control his adrenaline. "I've learned there’s a fine line between underthrowing and overthrowing a pitch,” Cole said late in the 2013 season. “With two strikes, I’ve learned to be more patient. The hitters up here fight off a lot more pitches and I’ve learned to wait them out, stay within myself and keep throwing quality pitches instead of trying to amp too much and overthrow.”
Cole’s delivery had to become more efficient. Pirates pitching instructors, including former organizational pitching guru Jim Benedict, began by having Cole imagine he was inside a phone booth-sized box when he began his delivery. It was step one in helping Cole improve balance and arm slot.
“Our guys did a ton of work once he got in the system,” Huntington said. “Benedict started it, and then each of the pitching coaches along the way continued that growth and development.”
In 2015, Gerrit adopted a new shoulder-strengthening regimen. Under his jersey he wore the Zephyr Bioharness, a device that monitors fatigue. He was one of several Pirates to experiment with the ancient Eastern practice of placing suction cups to his back and shoulder to promote quicker healing. (Travis Sawchik - Pittsburgh Tribune Review - Dec. 2015)
- June 2015, Cole won his 30th Major League win in his 53rd start. The last Pirates pitcher to notch 30 wins as fast was Emil Yde, who did it from 1924-1925. Nine of Cole's wins have come in 2015. (Singer - mlb.com - 6/7/15)
Cole’s minor league mentor Jim Benedict, now the vice president of pitching development for the Marlins, tells his coworkers that Cole is such a student of the game that he could be a pitching coach right now.
April 13, 2017: Gerrit joined Nolan Ryan as the only pitchers in Major League history to strike out at least 11 in three consecutive starts to begin a season. He struck out 14 Rangers in 7 innings at Minute Maid Park. What's more, he set a MLB record with 36 strikeouts in his first three starts with a team. The 14 strikeouts joined the Minute Maid Park record for an Astros pitcher, set by Bud Norris in 2010.
"Dude's been lights-out," Springer said. "He's really kept us in the game every start. He's been everything that we've heard, seen, hoped for, and I'm glad he's on our side." (McTaggart - mlb.com)
April 29, 2018: Cole set an Astros franchise record by striking out 61 batters in April. He is the fourth pitcher in Astros history to strike out at least 60 batters in a single calendar month, joining J.R. Richard (62 in August 1979 and 69 in September 1979), Mike Scott (64 in May 1986) and Randy Johnson (61 in August 1998).
May 4, 2018: Cole added to his resume when he struck out a career-high 16 while giving up only a fifth-inning double for his first career shutout and first career one-hitter, an 8-0 victory over the D-backs at Chase Field.
July 10, 2018: Cole posted 11 strikeouts in his six frames, giving him 169 punch outs in 19 starts this season. Cole surpassed Mike Scott (167 K's in 1986) to set a new Astros franchise record with 169 strikeouts before the All-Star break.
September 10, 2018: Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole became the first righthanded pitchers on the same team to strike out at least 250 batters in the same season since at least 1900. They are the first set of teammates to strike out at least 250 batters in a season since Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling in 2002.
The Astros traded for Cole, who had just had the worst of his five seasons with the Pirates (4.26 ERA and the second-most home runs allowed in the NL). The Astros used pitch data to identify a better pitcher hidden within Cole. They told him much of the way he was using his pitches was wrong.
For instance, Gerrit said, "They told me to throw my slider more and my curveball harder, which was the opposite of what I was doing."
The most fundamental change was to transform Cole from a 2-seam fastball pitcher down in the zone to get ground balls into a 4-seam fastball monster with swing-and-miss stuff at the top of the zone. The Astros convinced Cole that the 2-seamer is an ineffective pitch in today's game. As hitters have prioritized slugging over batting average, they seek higher launch angles with a more upward swing path to the ball—perfect for elevating low pitches.
"I always tried to pound down to create ground balls," Cole says, "but with the (livelier) balls and the way hitters adjusted their swing path, that 2-seam was getting elevated as opposed to getting crushed to the 3rd baseman."
Then, the Astros helped Cole remake his 4-seamer, the preferred pitch in the age of launch angle. They showed him video of his 4-seam fastball spinning at 2,300 rpm—almost 100 rpm faster than the major league average. Cole throw 20 such high-spin fastballs in his first start of 2017. Yet by the end of the year Cole's 4-seamer had dissolved into a below-average one, averaging only 2,164 rpm.
The Houston staff, led by pitching coach Brent Strom, taught him how to throw a true 4-seamer. They explained that the hand and wrist should stay fully behind the ball through release to impart true north-side backspin. The faster a 4-seamer backspins and stays on a north-south axis, the more it resists gravity, and the more "ride" it has through the strike zone. "Ride" means it sinks less than the hitter expects, which leads the hitter to swing under the ball.
"The emphasis was on how to throw a true 4-seam," Cole says. "Step one: make it go straight and backspin it. I wanted it to be more true and stay in the lane instead of drifting. I wasn't really clear on hos to throw it before."
Houston's plan worked. Cole's 4-seam fastball in 2018 averaged 2,379 rpm. Batters hit .185 against it, making it the third-toughest 4-seamer to hit among all major league starters, behind only Walker Buehler and Chris Sale. (Tom Verducci - Sports Illustrated - 4/01/2019)
July 6, 2019: On his 110th and final pitch of the night, Cole hit 101.1 mph in striking out Jarrett Parker to complete seven scoreless innings. The Cole train was picking up steam at Minute Maid Park. The blazing fastball was the fastest pitch by any starter in 2019, according to Statcast. The All-Star right-hander hit the 100-mph mark seven times in the Astros’ 4-0 win over the Angels, surpassing his previous career high of three 100-plus pitches in a game.
“Exceptional across the board, from intensity to execution to game planning,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said in describing Cole’s nine-strikeout, three-hit performance. “He threw a lot of changeups. He threw some breaking balls. He threw some low bullets which everybody talks about [since] he throws the high fastball more nowadays. He was just so creative and so good.”
July 22, 2019: When Gerrit struck out the side to start the game against the A’s at Minute Maid Park, it was only a matter of time before he reached 200 for the season. And he did it quicker than all but one other pitcher in Major League history.
Cole fanned Matt Olson on a 98 mph four-seam fastball in the fourth inning of the 11-1 win over the A’s for his sixth strikeout of the game, giving him 200 in 2019. He reached the milestone in 133 1/3 innings, which is the second fewest behind Randy Johnson (130.2 innings) in 2001.
August 29, 2019: Cole, who took a no-decision, struck out 14 Rays batters in 6 2/3 innings to tie a season high while allowing four runs. In doing so, he surpassed the previous club record of 14 double-digit strikeout games he shared with J.R. Richard (1978-79).
He’s the second pitcher in the live-ball era (since 1920) to go undefeated with at least 150 strikeouts over a 16-start span (Roger Clemens in 1998).
- Sept. 8, 2019: Cole joined Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez (1999) the only pitchers in Major League history to strike out 14 or more batters in three consecutive games. He tied Verlander’s Astros Minute Maid Park record of 15 strikeouts, which was set on June 12 against the Brewers. Cole also has six games of at least 10 strikeouts and no walks, which ties the single-season Major League record.
September 18, 2019: Gerritt is in rare air as he recorded his 300th strikeout. The pathway to 300 strikeouts started during the spring of 2018. Houston, coming off a World Series win, had traded for Cole a few weeks before Spring Training started. And it didn’t take Cole long to bend the ears of Cy Young Award-winning teammates Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel.
Cole, who had already established himself as a steady starter with the Pirates, was looking for more. He was looking for an edge in big situations. He asked Verlander and Keuchel how he could strike out more batters. That conversation led to a dinner and many more conversations throughout the rest of the year. He was a sponge for knowledge.
In short, Cole changed his game plan in the way he attacks hitters and retooled his arsenal and blossomed into one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball. And in today’s 3-2 win over the Rangers at Minute Maid Park, Cole punctuated his remarkable season by surpassing 300 strikeouts while winning his 14th consecutive decision.
Cole became just the 18th pitcher in MLB history to notch at least 300 strikeouts in a season. Those 18 hurlers have combined for 37 overall campaigns of 300-plus Ks. “It’s really special,” said Cole, who struck out 10 batters in eight innings to give him 302 for the season. “I can’t really put it into words.”
Cole’s 300th strikeout came when he got Rangers designated hitter Shin-Soo Choo swinging through an 89-mph changeup to end the sixth. He knew entering the game he needed eight strikeouts to reach 300, but had lost count. When the crowd erupted into a standing ovation as Cole walked off the mound, he stopped to wave and acknowledge them, while soaking up the moment.
This game belonged to Cole. “The accomplishment is a season-long accomplishment for him,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “You congratulate him on that, but more important on the night-to-night basis when he’s pitching, the way he’s into the game and he knows how important that last out was for him and for our team. You congratulate him on getting another win. It wasn’t easy.” (McTaggart - mlb.com)
Sept 24, 2019: Forty years ago, J.R. Richard was one of the most dominating pitchers in baseball, striking out batters at a rate that few have before or since. He fanned an Astros-record 313 in 1979—his final full season in the big leagues—and finished third in the NL Cy Young voting. Despite the Astros’ rich pitching history that includes Richard, all-time MLB strikeout king Nolan Ryan, former Cy Young winner Mike Scott, and seven-time Cy Young winner Roger Clemens, Richard’s mark held firm.
Gerrit Cole struck out 14 batters and allowed two singles in seven scoreless innings, breaking Richard’s club record when he whiffed Mariners rookie outfielder Kyle Lewis in the seventh inning of the Astros’ 3-0 win over the Mariners at T-Mobile Park. He has 316 strikeouts heading into his final start of the season in Anaheim.
“Tremendous honor to be his manager and watch him pitch,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “And for him to set a record that could stand for a really, really long time, it’s pretty remarkable.”
When Cole got Lewis to swing through a slider for strikeout No. 314, his teammates clapped on the top steps of the dugout, with Cole touching his cap to salute them and a strong contingent of orange-clad Astros fans. He threw the baseball into the dugout for a keepsake.
“I just wanted to recognize them and take a moment with my teammates, because they’re responsible for a lot of the confidence I have,” Cole said. “It plays a big part.”
Cole, Richard (313 in 1979 and 303 in 1978) and Scott (306 in 1986) are the only Astros pitchers to reach 300 strikeouts in a season. If Cole reaches double-digit strikeouts in his final start, he would break a Major League record he tied.
Cole has whiffed at least 10 batters in eight consecutive starts, tying the MLB record shared with Chris Sale (2015 and 2017) and Pedro Martinez (1999). Cole also joins Hall of Famers Randy Johnson (four times), Ryan (twice) and Sandy Koufax (once) as the only pitchers with 20 starts of at least 10 strikeouts in a single season since 1920. He’s struck out at least 14 batters five times. (B McTaggart - MLB.com - Sept 25, 2019)
Sept. 29, 2019: Cole set a Major League record by recording his ninth consecutive double-digit strikeout game with 10 Ks over five innings.
- Oct 4, 2019: Imagine getting shut down for seven innings by Justin Verlander and finding out a day later the domination had just started. On deck for the Rays is Gerrit Cole—the other half of baseball’s most intimidating one-two starting pitcher duo since Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, who had a performance for the ages.
Cole baffled the Rays for 7.2 scoreless innings, striking out an Astros franchise playoff record 15 batters—the most in a postseason game since 2000—while allowing one walk and four hits. He lead the Astros to a 3-1 victory in Game 2 of the ALDS at Minute Maid Park.
“Well, I'm just happy we got the win,” said Cole, who got 33 swings and misses. “It was tight there at the end. I just was pleased with how we were going about our game plan tonight. We were executing more pitches than not. We put ourselves in a good position to go deep. We put ourselves in a good position to work out of a couple jams.”
In the history of best-of-five postseason series, teams taking a 2-0 lead have gone on to win the series 71 of 81 times (88 percent). In Division Series with the current 2-2-1 format, those winning Games 1 and 2 at home have won the series 27 of 30 times (90 percent). Of those 27 victories, 18 have been sweeps.
Cole became the seventh pitcher in history to strike out as many as 15 in a playoff game and the first since Roger Clemens in Game 4 of the 2000 ALCS. Cole won his 17th consecutive decision since May 27 to put the Astros one win away from advancing to the ALCS for the third year in a row.
“It's hard to put into words exactly what his performance meant to us tonight, but, man, he was good,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “What a game.” (B McTaggart - MLB.com - Oct 5, 2019)
2019 Season: The runner-up to Justin Verlander for the AL Cy Young Award, Cole was 20-5 with an AL-leading 2.50 ERA in 33 starts, pacing the Majors with 326 strikeouts in 212.1 innings.
In 2019, Cole's four-seam spin rate jumped another 151 rpm to 2,530, fourth-highest among regular starters. Why is that important? Because more fastball spin typically means more swings and misses. Last season, the MLB-wide swing-and-miss rate on 95+ mph four-seamers with a spin rate below 2,500 rpm was 24.8 percent. But at 2,500 rpm or higher, the whiff rate on those pitches was 30.8 percent.
Cole registered a 37.6 percent whiff rate with his four-seam fastball in 2019, ranking second in the Majors. His .166 batting average allowed on the pitch was the best among starters. –Thomas Harrigan
Feb 6, 2020: The Yankees gambled on Gerrit Cole as a first-round selection in the 2008 MLB draft, then grumbled when the promising hurler made good on his college commitment to UCLA. Once Cole was an established big leaguer, New York attempted to trade for him nine years later, but came away empty-handed when the Pirates preferred a different offer from the Astros.
No wonder GM Brian Cashman referred to Cole as his “great white whale,” one the Yankees finally landed by blowing the Angels and Dodgers out of the water with a landmark nine-year pact. Now, as pitchers and catchers prepare to report to George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, all eyes will be on Cole and his mission to deliver World Series title No. 28 to The Bronx.
“I love it. It's what you play for,” Cole said. “There were a couple years in Pittsburgh where we just weren’t good as a club. It's just not fun; it's not what I envisioned. I want to compete every year for a championship, and I want to win a championship. I was a Yankee fan, man, and every year you have that expectation that they're going to be competing. It doesn't scare me. It’s what I dreamed of.”
Viewed as the final piece for a win-now franchise that has been knocking on the door for several seasons, Cole is switching sides after his Houston club ended New York’s season in the ALCS. The bar is set incredibly high for him; managing GM Hal Steinbrenner said that the expectation is for Cole to celebrate multiple World Series championships during his time in pinstripes. In pure pitching terms, Cole’s acquisition transformed the Yankees’ rotation from a potential liability into a strength.
Boone and the Yankees had the headache of preparing to face Cole in a postseason setting last October, when Houston handed him the ball for ALCS Game 3 at Yankee Stadium. Though it wasn’t his sharpest effort, Cole nevertheless delivered on that stage, silencing the Bombers with seven innings of four-hit ball while striking out seven against five walks. That contest was discussed during this past winter’s contract negotiations.
“We felt like had a pretty good plan, we just weren't able to take advantage of those couple of opportunities,” Boone said. “That has a lot to do with him being out there, and him being able to make pitches. It was a lot of fun to talk to him about how we looked at it, the reverence and respect he had for our lineup, and how he had to kind of navigate in that game. He's a special, special pitcher and a special guy.”
To a man, the travel contingent that jetted to the West Coast for preliminary talks with agent Scott Boras—one that included retired hurler Andy Pettitte—came away impressed by Cole’s intensity and the serious nature of his questions.
“He's willing to bet on himself,” Cashman said. “I don't think many high school kids being drafted in the first round by their childhood dream team … would say, ‘I'm going to college because it'll all work out.’ Those are examples of someone who's talking the talk and then shows he can walk the walk. You see how they react in the crazy environment of playoff baseball and World Series baseball, and listen, he has checked every box thus far.”
The Yankees’ sales pitch essentially informed Cole and his wife, Amy, that the Steinbrenner family was willing to do whatever it would take to ensure that his next start was in pinstripes.
“Unlike other top free agents in years past, I really felt that it would be a game-changer for us for a number of reasons,” Steinbrenner said. “Starting pitching, you obviously can't have enough of it. He’s unbelievably talented skill-wise, great makeup, very tough, very intelligent. He’s got an unbelievable work ethic, and he’s 29 years old. I mean, you put all those together and that's an opportunity any given year I would pursue if they were available.”
That total package is, the Yankees believe, one that will also fit seamlessly into their professional clubhouse. Cole pitched the equivalent of a perfect game during his formal Yankee Stadium introduction on Dec. 18, deftly handling the press while surprising his audience with a weather-faded piece of poster board from his childhood. Beyond innings and strikeouts, Boone also believes that Cole will assist in filling whatever leadership void exists among the pitching staff following CC Sabathia’s retirement, a process that can begin on the sun-splashed fields of the Grapefruit League.
“I think he has intangibles that will not only allow him to thrive in there, but also have enough of a positive effect on what we do and our culture,” Boone said. “I don't want him to be forced into any sort of role. I want him to go in there and be himself.” (B Hoch - MLB.com - Feb 6, 2020)
Aug. 3, 2020: Cole extended his career-long winning streak (in decisions for him) to 19 games.
August 14, 2020: Registering his fourth victory in five Yankees starts, Gerritt notched his 20th consecutive winning decision dating to May 27, 2019. That's the third-longest streak in Major League history.
Making his first start against Boston as a member of the Yankees, Cole scattered four hits while becoming the first member of the rotation to complete seven innings this season. Alex Verdugo reached the second deck in right field with a fourth-inning homer off Cole, who walked none and struck out eight in a 95-pitch performance.
“I felt like I kept repeating and started to get into a slot, into a good rhythm where I could put a little extra on some pitches when we needed to,” Cole said.
“He’s the best pitcher in the game, and that's what you're seeing,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “You're seeing a guy that's great at his craft with elite stuff and the ability to command it. More and more, he’s getting settled into the season. In all the weirdness, he's dealt with it great and he's gotten a little bit better each and every time.” (Hoch - mlb.com - 8/14/2020)
- Aug. 26, 2020: The win streak is over. Cole’s only loss in 15 months came in Game 1 of the World Series against the Nationals. Cole went 20-0 with a 1.97 ERA in 28 starts over his win streak, tied with Jake Arrieta (2015-2016), Roger Clemens (1998-1999) and Rube Marquard (1911-1912) for the third-longest ever.
Carl Hubbell (24 games, 1936-1937) and Roy Face (22 games, 1958-1959) are the only pitchers ever to enjoy longer winning streaks. Cole’s streak of 28 starts without suffering a loss was also snapped, falling two shy of Clemens’ record of 30. (By Bryan Hoch)
September 16, 2020: Gerritt became the 38th pitcher in history to reach 100 wins within his first 203 appearances, and just the 13th since 1960.
Sept 29, 2020: Mixing his four-pitch arsenal with aplomb, the 30-year-old righthander struck out 13, the most by a pitcher in his Yankees playoff debut. Cole walked none and became the first Major Leaguer to record three postseason games of 12 or more strikeouts. Cole scattered six hits over seven innings.
Though Cole imagined his Yanks postseason debut would have come in a lively, bunting-strewn ballpark, he was buoyed by the knowledge that he had two friendly faces watching from a right-field suite—his wife, Amy, and the couple’s 3-month-old son, Caden.
“I spent some time with him today in between naps,” Cole said. “This is the first time we got to go to the ballpark together as a family, so it’s something that I’ll always remember. I never thought that his first game would be in Cleveland.”
With Mom and baby observing from high above, Cole generated 12 swings and misses with an electric four-seam fastball that he dialed up to 98.8 mph to strike out Carlos Santana to end the third inning. Cole challenged hitters with that heater, using it 55 times out of 105 pitches, while keeping the Tribe off-balance with his knuckle curve (25), slider (17) and changeup (eight). (B Hoch - MLB.com - Sept 30, 2020)
Dec 9, 2020: Cole made the All-MLB Second Team as a starting pitcher after a solid debut season in pinstripes.
Cole worked to a 7-3 record with a 2.84 ERA over 12 regular-season starts. The 30-year-old struck out 94 batters over 73 innings, pitching to a 151 ERA+. The righthander logged two complete games, including a shutout, scattering 53 hits. Cole placed fourth in the AL Cy Young Award balloting.
May 12, 2021: Gerritt’s third-inning strikeout of Brett Phillips was the 1,500th of his career. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Cole (1,315 1/3 innings) is the fourth-fastest MLB pitcher to reach the milestone. (Hoch - mlb.com)
August 27, 2021: Gerritt shattered the previous Yankees record for fewest innings to reach 200 strikeouts in a season, 148, which was previously 168 1/3, set by Michael Pineda in 2016.
Gerrit Cole Talks About His Curveball
“A.J. Burnett taught Charlie Morton and me the grip when we were in Pittsburgh. He would take me in the cage and do drills with me that his dad would do with him when he was a kid. The curveball is something he’s basically had since the first time he started playing catch, which is different than me, but similar to Jameson [Taillon]. So I had to learn it. He showed me the grip, showed me the drills, and kind of described what he was feeling and what he was looking for. This was in 2012, in spring training. Then in 2013, in the big leagues, we worked on it a lot," Cole said.
“I’d been pretty much slider only. I had tried a bigger curveball. I’d tried to make the slider bigger. I’d tried to throw a shorter cutter. But I never really had a true downer breaking ball. At first, I incorporated it in Pittsburgh [and] a lot was changing speeds. It’s kind of developed a little bit beyond just that.
“One of [the drills] was with an L screen. We played catch in the cage a few times. He’d back me up to 50-55 [feet] — just in front of the mound — and I would play catch with the curveball. Then he would slide the L screen over. The objective was to throw the curveball and make it go right over the shorter portion of the L screen. It would get to the correct height at the finish. We practiced that a lot.
Gerrit Cole’s curveball grip.
“We practiced just getting over the ball. We discussed the grip in terms of where you put your pressure in order to be able to hold it. Charlie’s is extremely in the fingertips. I don’t have quite as big a hand, so I just kind of set it loosely in there. A.J. would take his nail and drive it into the seam. He would harden his nail up, and use the nail to flick it. I’m not sure how Charlie uses the nail. I just kind of set the finger away.
“I first loved Adam Wainwright’s curveball, and that’s when I first started to try to throw a curveball with the finger up. This is when I was 11 or 12 years old. But I noticed that the ball would wobble as it hit my [index] finger out of my hand. Even though it was loose, and it was away, it always affected the spin — it decelerated the spin on the way to the plate. Getting the knuckle out when the ball comes out, it just kind of avoids the index finger. I guess I maybe use the index finger to also create good spin on it, too. Right? Like, I’m going to get a slight pressure point. But it doesn’t drag off the finger like the way it did with the finger up.
“I learned in Houston that it made no difference to throw it 78-79 [mph]. I got no extra break out of that, so throwing it slightly harder, like in the 82-84 range, was much more effective. It still provided enough change of speed from a deception standpoint, and at the same time it had enough velocity to where it made you make a decision just that much quicker. It was roughly the same break as the 78-79, and since I’ve gotten more comfortable [with 82-84], that’s been a much better speed for me to comfortably throw the pitch. I can also manipulate the break a little more now that I’ve thrown it for seven or eight years.
“Early on, I was trying to throw it, more so, to control the speed. And I don’t think that’s… I guess I haven’t quite figured out how to throw it slower and make it better. I can throw harder and make it shorter and more depthy and more nasty. I can throw it 80 and get the perfect blend of all of them. But the slower I throw it… it’s like diminishing returns to a certain extent. It just gives the hitter a longer time to adapt. So the mentality is … I guess I’d say you shouldn’t sacrifice any crispness or bite on the pitch for velocity. It has to bite every time or it doesn’t serve a purpose.
“There are always outliers — there are multiple ways to get it done — but generally, I find that if you can get tight spin to where it spins like a white ball… and you want the direction of the spin to somewhat mimic the fastball. If you’re spinning a fastball at two o’clock, spinning the curveball at two o’clock — obviously in the other direction — provides really good deception. It also gives you a good split, relative to your break chart. The maximum discrepancy.” (David Laurila - September 28, 2021)
- As of the start of the 2022 season, Cole had a career record of 117-63 with a 3.20 ERA, having allowed just 153 home runs and 1,238 hits in 1,449innings. And he'd struck out 10.4 hitters per 9 innings.
- Cole can swing the bat. He can help himself at the plate.
June 4-28, 2014: Cole was on the D.L. with right shoulder fatigue.
July 7-Aug. 20, 2014: The Pirates placed Cole on the disabled list with a tight right lat.
2016 Spring Training: Cole had been dealing with inflammation in his right rib since mid-January, at least temporarily setting back his Spring Training progression. Cole said he sustained the injury during his "normal training" this offseason. He was on a slightly modified throwing program, according to head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk.
June 11-July 16, 2016: Cole was on the DL with right triceps muscle strain.
August 29-Sept. 12, 2016: The Pirates placed ace Cole on the 15-day disabled list with right elbow inflammation.
Sept 13-Nov 4, 2016: Cole was on the DL with right elbow posterior inflammation. The Pirates decided to shut him down for the rest of the season and placed him on the 60-day disabled list.
Aug 13, 2019: Cole was scratched with right hamstring discomfort. Cole’s hamstring wasn’t feeling good while warming up. He didn’t feel he could continue.
- August 2-16, 2021: Gerrit tested positive for COVID-19.
- Sept 7, 2021: Ace right-hander Gerrit Cole left the game in the top of the fourth inning with left hamstring tightness. It has not been determined if he will go on the injured list. He is considered day-to-day.