We don’t blame Gerrit Cole for what he told Rob Biertempfel, but his own words tell the tale. The rookie felt he pitched “well” enough to be in the Pirates rotation that heads north in less than two weeks. The fact is that he did pitch well. It also wasn’t against the best of the best competition, and it just wasn’t good enough in Neal Huntington’s eyes.
If Cole wanted to really push for a spot in the Bucs rotation, he needed to pitch better. That’s the bottom line. He needed to blow people away. As we mentioned this morning, Cole’s numbers were good. Not great. The lineups he faced were ok. Far from great.
But seriously, what do you want Cole to say? ’Yeah, I knew no matter how hard I worked they would send me down. It’s economics, though – what do you want… a couple months of me as a rookie, or a year in my prime in 2019?’
We understand the popular argument, but it’s never going to be about now with the Buccos. It’s always much more complicated for a small market team with a small minded multi-millionaire owner. In this case, Cole just didn’t do enough to really push the issue. It also sucks he didn’t get another start or two against some ‘A’ lineups.
Cole’s quote wasn’t over the top, just a simple one.
“It’s frustrating, because I pitched well,” Cole said.
It’s hard to blame Cole for wanting to be in the big leagues. That’s the freaking goal, right? We can’t begin to imagine how much effort he has put into the game. But it’s also pretty easy to see that some seasoning certainly won’t hurt the big right-hander, especially if he’s expected to dominate when he arrives in the bigs.
Neal Huntington was on the offensive claiming that Cole isn’t ready to compete and be successful at the big-league level.
“Everybody’s going to speculate why he’s being sent out, and they’re wrong, He’s being sent out because in our minds he’s not ready to compete and be successful at the major league level and be one of those top-of-the-rotation starters. That’s our goal for him. However long it takes is how long he’ll be in Triple-A.
Cole won’t be in Triple-A long if he uses this as motivation, which is surely what the Bucs want to see from their spirited top prospect. Especially motivating was the GM saying that Triple-A hitters would ‘jump him.’ Also mentioned as needed were improvement in his changeup and breaking ball, which Huntington said weren’t as good as last summer.
Perhaps the most surprising sentence of all was the Pirates not placing an innings limit on Cole.
“It’s not going to be something we take a look at every time out,” Huntington said. “I don’t think we want him to get to 250 innings this year, but he’s going to be free to go.”
Now that we are done talking about what Gerrit Cole didn’t do, we are going to look forward to him dominating in Triple-A, avoiding the jumpers, pitching without a specific innings limit (if we are to believe that) and proving that he does have what it takes to succeed in the bigs.
Spring Training isn’t supposed to matter, except of course when it’s convenient for it to matter. Now – the regular season that begins in a couple of weeks, that’s going to be entertaining…..damn, when does this season start anyway?