Gerrit Cole started 22 games in an injury-shortened 2014. He still managed to be a very productive member of the rotation, as he was only one of two in the staff to post double figures in wins with 11. Those 22 starts formed a total of 138 innings pitched. Cole posted a 3.65 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP. He had 138 strikeouts meaning he struck out exactly nine batters per nine innings pitched.
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Now that the formalities are out of the way, let me tell you my secret sauce for this list: innings per start. Okay, maybe it is a little more obvious than I thought, but Cole ended 2014 having averaged 6.3 innings per start, good enough for the second most per start on the entire Pirates rotation. I don’t have to tell you that having a starter go 6+ innings in a start is huge for a ballclub; in fact there’s a stat for that in quality starts. What puts Cole in another stratosphere in relation to that 6.3 number is his strikeout-to-walk ratio of 3.45, which was actually lower than his rookie year (3.57). When you combine those numbers plus the reliability that he can go out and save your bullpen on nights when they need some rest, the need for Cole to stay healthy becomes more pronounced than ever before. Oh, and there’s this little fact: Cole also averaged 6.3 strikeouts in his starts. As I’ve learned, Cole’s ‘stuff’ is developing right before our eyes. Now that he’s equipped with a nasty breaking ball as well as a deadly slider, I want to see at least 30 starts for Cole in 2015 so that we may get the most out of his talent.
Our next pitcher still has a lot left to offer, but can he maintain his streak of 30+ starts per year?
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