Pittsburgh Pirates: First Spring Start for Gerrit Cole

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Editorial: Spring Training has been underway for almost a week now.  The Pittsburgh Pirates have used all their starting pitchers thus far except one.

Gerrit Cole is expected to be the ace of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitching rotation this season.  Cole, who had an unhealthy 2016 campaign, needs to bounce back in a big way for 2017.  The former first-round pick missed a good chunk of Spring Training last season due to inflammation in his ribs.  Because of this he was set behind from the get go in 2016.  Then Cole experienced off and on arm tightness throughout the season.

First came a Disabled List trip in June, as Cole was experiencing a strain his triceps.  Then came another trip in August, when he had elbow discomfort. The Pittsburgh Pirates decided to place Cole on the Disabled List toward the end of August.  They did not believe that there was any serious structural damage, however.  He eventually made his way back and made one start in Septemeber.  After an ineffective start, the Bucs decided to shut Cole down the remainder of the season by placing him on the 60-Day Disabled List.

The good news is that there was nothing but positive updates throughout the off-season.  Although the Pittsburgh Pirates said there was not real concern over Cole’s elbow, there was still always that thought in the back of people’s head’s. Often times, sports organizations try to keep injuries quiet and remain optimistic about things, even though typically it does not work out.  However, it was reported by the Pirates that Cole was in rest mode and just waiting for the inflammation to go down.  Then in late December, they reported that he was pain-free and working on his off-season throwing program.

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This is great news for the 2017 Pittsburgh Pirates.  For the Bucs to get back into the playoff hunt, they will need Gerrit Cole to be the guy at the top of the rotation.  In 2016 he was not that same steady number one that led the team to 98 wins during the 2015 season.  Now that he is healthy, Cole will be able to get a true Spring Training under his belt, and this will better prepare him for the long haul this year.

Spring Training 2017

With that being said, Cole will have his first start of the 2016 Spring Training today. Cole will start against the Baltimore Orioles and Wade Miley.  What should Cole look to accomplish in today’s start?  More or less just getting through his appearance.  Cole needs to work on throwing his fastball as much as possible.  Furthermore, this will allow him to start building up his arm strength for a healthy season.  It will also allow him to see how his arm reacts after his start.  The other thing that is important, is to see where his velocity is at.  This can also show where he is at in terms of health. However, in general, the best thing that Cole can get from his start today is to be able to say he feels good.

Next: Pirates Opening Day Starter

Final Thoughts

As stated earlier, the Pittsburgh Pirates rotation will be as successful as Gerrit Cole is this season.  He is expected to be the lead workhorse, and combine with Jameson Taillon to make a very good and young one-two punch.  If Cole can stay healthy during Spring Training, it should allow him to build up his arm for the regular season properly.  So today, do not worry as much about his stats, but rather his velocity and his comments on how he feels afterward.