Pirates Gerrit Cole: The 2013 Version of Tim Wakefield


Gerrit Cole will be a bullpen option tonight for the Pirates.

In 1992, rookie Tim Wakefield should have been generating all of the headlines, but Bob Smizik and the newspaper boys were on strike in Pittsburgh.  What a year to strike!  The Pens repeated as Stanley Cup champs with a sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks.  The Steelers new dynasty started under Bill Cowher.  And all of the Tim Wakefield wizardry was magical.

Much like Gerrit Cole has slipped under the headlines this season, Tim Wakefield did the same.  It continues to this day.  Want someone who was tremendous back in 1992 to throw out the first pitch?  It should be Tim Wakefield.  Doug Drabek pitched well, but he was also saddled with three losses.

Wakefield ruled Pittsburgh in 1992.  I was able to see it first hand.  The guy was so damned good so damned quickly;  it seems silly to compare a knuckle-baller to a flame thrower, but when looking at the production I couldn’t help but see some similarities.  Just ignore that monster-like ERA+ that Wakefield put up.

When Zane Smith‘s shoulder started barking, Wakefield got the call and made his debut on July 31.  Unlike Cole, Wakefield came out getting swings and misses as he fired a complete game, loading ten K’s on the Kennametal board.  (At least that’s how I remember it, was Kennametal even around back then?)

As Wakefield danced his knuckle ball through lineup after lineup, the wins kept piling up.  When kids all over town weren’t pretending to be Mario, they were trying their damndest to throw knucklers like Wakefield.

Remember in yesterday’s post how we talked about the Bucs dropping the first two games in the 92 postseason against Atlanta?  Guess who pitched the third game against the Braves?  Yeah. Wakefield.  The knuckler danced all night as Wakefield tossed a complete game five-hitter.  I remember being in the press box at Three Rivers, counting pitches for my internship.  What the hell was the point?  The Braves scored two runs, both solo shots–one by Ron Gant, the other by ahem, Sid Bream.  Wakefield’s wizardy was unreal.

He came back in Game Six, and Wakefield supercharged the Bucs with a complete game victory.  The Pirates whipped Tom Glavine  and the Braves  13-4 that fateful game seven one night later on October 14.

Doug Drabek got the call in Game 7 and he was masterful, but the fans clamored for Wakefield.  Jim Leyland was quoted as saying something about fans calling the rookie phenom Cy Young.  Yeah, Leyland wasn’t real big on rookies either. ..It didn’t matter that Wakefield never threw an inning of relief, everyone wanted to see him in the late innings that fateful night in Atlanta.

Wakefield owned the Braves in 1992.  Who knows if he could have continued his dominance in Game 7 with no rest?  The fact that it was even entertained was tremendous.

We will never know.

The knuckle-baller finished third in the NL Rookie of the Year race behind winner Eric Karros and runner-up Moises Alou.  A couple years later his performance was so bad the lowly Bucs released him.  Wakefield went on to have a pretty nice career for the Boston Red Sox.

In 2013, the Pirates are generating the headlines, but the big story that most have missed is the Gerrit Cole story.  Cole was named the Rookie of the Month for Major League Baseball after five September starts, each one bigger than the last as he went 4-0 with a 1.69 ERA tying the NL lead for victories.

During the month of September when most expected a Pirates swoon, Cole ensured it didn’t happen.  The right-hander fanned a Major League rookie best 39 batters.

Many feel that Cole should be on the mound tonight against the Reds.  We understand the love affair with Francisco Liriano.  The veterans always get the nod over the rookies.

The same argument came up in 1992 as Wakefield had a strong September/October heading into the playoffs, also going 4-0.

Clint Hurdle will saddle up Frank the Tank and ride into St. Louis.  It’s a good theory, but having Cole waiting in the wings is a real power move.  Let’s trust Hurdle doesn’t have to make the decision to go to Cole.

After watching Cole recently, it’s hard to imagine he won’t get a shot to toe the rubber tonight if things get tight.  Tonight is torture.  One game.  Must win.

The scenario is insanity.   We can’t wait.


The graph you see below is what Gerrit Cole did in 2013.

1164Jun 11PITSFGW,8-2GS-7W(1-0)996.172202012.8427815918812125105300025100000.990.1940.61 1t start tie7t -23 1 out a4
2269Jun 16PITLADW,6-3GS-6W(2-0)45.273301003.7523805284101250044100231001001.11-0.069-0.94 1t start tie6t 1-3 2 out a2
3374Jun 21PIT@LAAW,5-2GS-7W(3-0)46.142215103.4424885412101174106100023000000.800.0910.70 1b start tie7b 1– 1 out a2
4479Jun 28PITMILW,10-3GS-6W(4-0)66.083333013.702794561961195004401023100200.71-0.163-0.49 1t start tie6t 3 out a5
5584Jul 4PITPHIL,4-6GS-6L(4-1)55.183315003.9423785314771082044020211000001.120.0690.68 1t start tie6t 12- 1 out a1
6689Jul 9PITOAKL,1-2GS-7L(4-2)47.052224103.6826905518711942061000241002001.050.0440.92 1t start tie7t 3 out d1
7793Jul 14PITNYML,2-4GS-5L(4-3)45.063325003.89228958196874104600020100100.96-0.156-0.91 1t start tie5t 3 out d2
8898Jul 23PIT@WSNW,5-1GS-7W(5-3)87.021114113.5124925412510850072110220000001.000.3142.17 1b start tie7b 3 out a2
99103Jul 28PIT@MIAL,2-3GS-7L(5-4)47.043328103.562795662112983006300024100010.97-0.0950.17 1b start tie7b 3 out d1
1010109Aug 2PITCOLL,2-4GS-6L(5-5)45.133326103.6921102661895831054100190000001.130.0140.40 1t start tie6t 1-3 1 out tie
1111114Aug 8PITMIAW,5-4GS-555.064414103.9521734995884004200019100100.74-0.207-1.91 1t start tie5t 3 out d4
1212121Aug 16PITARIW,6-2GS-6W(6-5)76.052225003.8824986319710721057000221001001.170.0600.51 1t start tie6t 3 out a2
1313126Aug 21PIT@SDPL,1-2GS-6L(6-6)46.0102205003.81269465121411106004911025100110.86-0.0280.43 1b start tie6b 3 out d2
1414133Aug 29PITMILL,0-4GS-8L(6-7)77.1104314103.8029976211613118104710028100400.67-0.141-0.98 1t start tie8t -23 1 out d3
1515138Sep 3PIT@MILW,4-3GS-646.052215003.742392591598980058000221000001.020.1170.77 1b start a 16b 3 out tie
1616143Sep 9PIT@TEXW,1-0GS-7W(7-7)57.030029003.4825926423148630078300230000001.060.4643.52 1b start tie7b 3 out a1
1717148Sep 14PITCHCW,2-1GS-7W(8-7)47.051137003.332810161141371151067000242000001.290.2291.92 1t start tie7t 3 out tie
1818153Sep 19PITSDPW,10-1GS-6W(9-7)46.0411312003.232597641611642106910022100000.900.1151.51 1t start tie6t 3 out a5
1919158Sep 24PIT@CHCW,8-2GS-6W(10-7)46.072216003.2224946520119852055000220002011.170.1330.77 1b start tie6b 3 out a4

The chart below is what Tim Wakefield did in 1992.

11103Jul 31PITSTLW,3-2CGW(1-0)999.0620510000.003814680201861772076010322000111.620.4641.88 1t start tie9t 3 out a1
22107Aug 5PITNYMW,6-2GS-8W(2-0)48.072247001.06351447826107176306310030000110.860.1831.45 1t start tie8t 3 out a4
33112Aug 10PIT@NYMW,4-2GS-848.031155001.083012370211491144072020231000001.240.2732.41 1b start tie8b 3 out tie
44117Aug 16PITATLW,4-2CGW(3-0)59.072223001.323511480217131733066110321000001.290.5601.88 1t start tie9t 3 out a2
55122Aug 21PIT@SFGL,5-6GS-6L(3-1)46.086644102.4828885414812821032010221001001.41-0.540-3.54 1b start tie6b 3 out d3
66127Aug 26PIT@LADW,2-0SHOW(4-1)49.060023002.0232107661611131462076112300000001.250.5583.84 1b start tie9b 3 out a2
77132Sep 2PITSFGW,3-2GS-9W(5-1)68.292233112.0338129911820181322058000342000001.400.2341.55 1t start tie9t –3 2 out a1
88137Sep 7PITCHCL,5-6GS-342.173300002.40134432663105003101013210000.92-0.286-2.83 1t start tie3t 1-3 1 out d2
99142Sep 13PIT@PHIL,3-6GS-757.073324002.5528836016811117205310125110010.63-0.1000.02 1b start tie7b 3 out d1
1010147Sep 18PITPHIW,5-2CG(6)W(6-1)46.062153002.472911266231271434052000241010001.450.0090.58 1t start tie6t 3 out a3
1111152Sep 23PIT@MONL,1-5GS-747.050014002.25258353158111052070010231001001.340.4153.02 1b start tie7b 3 out tie
1212157Sep 28PIT@CHCW,10-3GS-7W(7-1)47.043212102.282571471348144206000023000110.57-0.0280.11 1b start tie7b 3 out a7
1313162Oct 4PIT@NYMW,2-0GS-5W(8-1)55.010013002.1517593785672206701016000000.880.2622.13 1b start tie5b 3 out tie