Aug 20, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) delivers a pitch against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Gerrit Cole brought the heat and the Pirates losing streak is a memory. When Cole needed to shut down the hot Atlanta Braves hitters, he went to what his golden arm delivers best–the fastball. Although he exited with the Bucs down 2-0, the Pirates offense came alive late and stole a 3-2 victory and a sweep from the Braves.
The game boiled down to Cole’s fastball, but it was also the velocity range that we thought made a difference. In the chart from Fangraphs below, you can see the velocity on each of Cole’s pitches.
Gerrit Colve pitch fx from his start against the Atlanta Braves. Fangraphs
The fastball velocity from Brooks Baseball shows a 100.3 mph heater.
Either way, Cole brought the heat and was a welcome return to a Pirates rotation in need of a stabilizing force.
The fastball was lively and a welcome return for a Pirates team that needed a victory. ESPN stats had it at 95.9 on average and also noted that the Bucs ace got his heater up to 97 mph 15 times. Of course it was the go to pitch with two strikes and ESPN stats wrote that Braves hitters saw it ten times in those situations and went 0-for-5 with a walk against those 15 pitches.
In this chart you can see the fastball velocity range which in last night’s game looked a lot like the range Cole was working with at the end of the 2013 season.
One thing to note on Cole is the slider has been a bit more firm–almost 3 mph faster, while the fastball velocity is right where he was in the 2013 season. [Fangraphs, click to embiggen]
The Pirates have Cole in line to face the Cards on Tuesday at PNC Park and then again in St. Louis for a 2:15 matinee start on September 1st. With his career success against the Cards, it’s right where the flamethrower needs to be.