Gerrit Cole is going to throw 25 pitches today. It’s the start of the most important element of the Pittsburgh Pirates getting back the pitcher that could have the biggest impact on just how far the ball club goes this season. To achieve the success the Bucs envision for the 2014 season, the Pittsburgh Pirates need Gerrit Cole, more specifically, the Gerrit Cole of the second half of the 2013 season. The Cole that tore up opposing hitters last September.
If you think the Pirates are going anywhere without a stud at the front of the rotation, we have some bad news. It’s not going to happen. You know that in your heart of hearts. While pitchers like Vance Worley, Brandon Cumpton, and Jeff Locke have sparked the Bucs recent surge, it’s difficult to see those pitchers having sustained success at the level the Pirates will need in a competitive stretch run. If you have some doubts about that, you need to read this excellent article at Hidden Vigorish–How Far Can The Pirates Go Without An Ace.
As far as an anticipated timeline, we think this is what could happen. Unlike his last return, the Pirates plan for Cole to pitch a rehab start. Should everything go well today when the UCLA alum fires fastballs and changeups, more side sessions will be scheduled while increasing the pitch count. The idea would be to build him up for a rehab start with the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians on July 28. The Indians will host Charlotte, so if you are in the area, you might want to grab some tickets to see that one. The Knights are one of the worst hitting teams in the International League.
That would put the Bucs BAMF on schedule to return to the big leagues on August 2 when the Pirates are in Arizona to face the Diamondbacks. But so much goes into that timetable and it all depends on how Cole feels on a day-to-day basis.
If the Bucs think Cole won’t be able to return to dominance, it would be a really good idea to get a starter at the deadline. Especially when one considers what are the St. Louis Cardinals going to do at the deadline? What will the Brewers and Reds do?
The Pirates best upgrade would be getting Cole right. Getting Cole back to his dominance of 2013 when after the All-Star break, the flamethrower pitched 75.2 innings in 12 starts and struckout 75 while allowing only 24 earned runs.
And that all starts today.
Tags: Pittsburgh Pirates