2015 Pittsburgh Pirates Gradeout – Gerrit Cole

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Sep 30, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Gerrit Cofafale (45) delivers a pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Early in the season, I wrote that Gerrit Cole’s slider was now his not-so-secret weapon. From that piece back in April:

"Gerrit Cole is a pitcher that is learning how to pitch in the majors before our very eyes.  The fastball got him to the big leagues.  The slider may end up deciding how long he stays."

The slider would remain a viable weapon for Cole all year long, as it was by far his best swing-and-miss pitch, with a 20.5% swinging strike percentage as per the wizards over at FanGraphs. Cole threw nearly three times as many sliders as he did the year previously. One could easily postulate that the increase in sliders was due to the career-high in innings. There is something to that, but we must also consider the percentage of usage. Cole used the slider for 21.2% of his pitches in 2015, as opposed to 13.1% in 2014.

The real takeaway from all of this is that Cole reached a new level of maturity and trust in his pitches. The fact that he did so in only his second full year in the league speaks volumes. No longer dependent on his still-deadly four seam fastball (95.5 MPH on average), Cole now has a level of deception in his pitches that is fully realized.

If we consider all of the above, what grade would Cole receive for his 2015 campaign?

A. Gerrit Cole took a huge leap forward this year and clearly grabbed the mantle of “Ace” for the Pittsburgh Pirates. That doesn’t mean his season was perfect. There were peaks and valleys, and the wild card game was the proverbial air being left out of the balloon. Still, Cole showed great ability this year, diversified his pitch selection, and further tapped into his potential. For those reasons, he fully deserves an A.. SP. Pittsburgh Pirates. GERRIT COLE

You’ve heard our take. Now it’s your turn. Sound off in the comments below, or let us know on twitter.

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