Gerrit Cole is the Pittsburgh Pirates best starting pitcher, and the Pirates need him to bring his A game against the Chicago Cubs today.
So far in the 2016 season, the Chicago Cubs have absolutely dominated the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Cubs have won all five meetings this season, and have outscored the Pirates 37-11. Needless to say, the Cubs have dominated the season series. It is up to Gerrit Cole to begin to change that starting this afternoon.
At 2:20pm this afternoon Gerrit Cole will oppose Jon Lester as the Pirates look to avoid being swept the Cubs, as well as looking to stay above .500 on the season. The Pirates have done a great job against every team minus the Cubs this year, posting an 18-12 record (a .600 winning percentage) against everyone else. However, if the Pirates are going to be contenders this year they need to begin to beat the Cubs.
The Pirates already find themselves nine games out of first place in the National League Central Division. Today included, the Pirates play the Cubs 14 more times this season. Also, the Bucs have 126 total games remaining after today. So they will have opportunities to make up games against the Cubs, but they need to begin to beat them first and foremost.
The Pirates remain in a great position to compete for a wild card spot, especially with how well they have played against everyone except the Cubs, but they still need to prove they can beat the Cubs. That is what makes today’s start for Gerrit Cole important. The Pirates need to prove to everyone that they are capable of beating the best team in baseball, especially since that team resides in the their division.
All of this brings us to this afternoon’s match up at Wrigley Field where Clint Hurdle will hand the ball to Gerrit Cole. So far this season Cole has pitched well for most pitchers, but not for his standards. In 33 1/3 innings pitched Cole is averaging 3.24 BB/9, 8.64 K/9, 0.54 HR/9, and he has a 3.78 ERA. However, Cole’s 3.11 FIP and .326 BABIP both indicate he has pitched better than his ERA and that he is due for improvement.
The biggest problem for the Pirate ace this season has been his control. Gerrit Cole’s 3.24 BB/9 is not terrible, but it is much higher than the lifetime 2.18 BB/9 he had entering the 2016 season. The Pirates need Gerrit Cole to pitch better, and what he needs to do to accomplish that is to have better control.
I fully expect Gerrit Cole to get his control straightened out and for him to once again be the dominant pitcher we saw last season. I also expect Cole to bring it today. Gerrit Cole has always been a pitcher that, minus the Wild Card Game last year, has always brought it when his team has needed him most. Furthermore, he is a very passionate and fiery guy and I expect him to have that passion and fire today.
During the eighth inning of yesterday’s 8-2 Pirate loss ROOT Sports showed Cole in the dugout, and, to put it lightly, he looked pissed. Not only due I believe Cole is angry over what has happened to the Pirates against the Cubs this season, but he is also angry at himself for pitching poorly against them last year in the Wild Card Game as well as in his start against them earlier this month.
The Pittsburgh Pirates need Gerrit Cole to be an ace today, and I expect him to do just that. In fact, I am going to go out on a limb and predict the Pirates find a way to win today. Which would be great with a ten game home stand against three terrible teams looming.
Gerrit Cole is the Pirates ace. In fact, he is one of the five best right-handed pitchers in the National League. The Pirates desperately need Cole to pitch like the ace he is today. For a lot of reasons, the Pirates could really use a win today against the Cubs. Get it done, Gerrit.