Gerrit Cole is deferring to veterans…for now


In a recent piece by Pirates beat writer Tom Singer, Bucco flamethrower Gerrit Cole seemed to go out of his way to defer any talk of an “Ace” on the pitching staff to A.J. Burnett and Francisco Liriano.  From Mr. Singer’s piece:

"“It’s a tremendous honor to be talked about in those terms, but that’s something earned over time,” Cole said. “I’m not quite there yet. Fortunately, I’m in a really great position to be able to pitch with guys I not only enjoy being around, but look up to as well. And they provide leadership — because they’ve done it for so long.”"

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At first, I found Cole’s quotes to be very humble and refreshing.  As I chewed on them a bit more, the realization occurred to me:  I don’t want Gerrit Cole to defer to anyone.  More to the point, should he defer to anyone on this staff?  Liriano got the big extension, Burnett got the fanfare, but, in my opinion, Cole has the best stuff on the staff, period.  As I said in this recent piece, Cole’s burgeoning arsenal of pitches could be one of the final steps that he needs to elevate his profile from “potential” to “proven.”

When we look at Cole’s stats from last year, can we project him to fully take control of the starting rotation?  Let’s take a look;

Overall, in this writer’s humble opinion, the numbers are there.  Cynics will point to his increased walk totals and BB/9 yet I will counter that by saying that his K/9 went up by 1.3 strikeouts also.  I would like to see less balls leave the yard against Cole, as he gave up four more home runs in only 22.9 more IP year-to-year from ’13 to ’14.  That’s an average of one more home run every 5.73 innings.  A little troubling, but, again, as he gains control of his other weapons, this number is likely to decrease.

The good news from Cole’s quotes is that he seems to be a great teammate, and is fully locked and loaded in the here-and-now.  When asked about the future alongside Tyler Glasnow and Jameson Taillon:

"“It’s fun to dream about that kind of stuff,” Cole said. “But for now we have our horses in A.J. [Burnett] and Charlie Morton and Frankie. I’m probably more excited to go to battle with those guys, and whoever fills the fifth spot — Vance Worley or Jeff Locke. I’m excited to work with this crew and try to get stuff done.”"

Overall, I don’t think that Gerrit Cole has anything close a problem with confidence.  He knows that he is the de-factor Ace.  His comments left me wanting more.  In any event, It will not be long before Gerrit Cole is widely accepted as the undisputed leader of the Pittsburgh Pirates starting rotation.

I hope that when that time comes, he will acknowledge it, and run with it.

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