Pittsburgh Pirates were unsure how their top pitching prospect Gerrit Cole would perform in his first start against defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants, but it’s safe to say he exceeded their expectations.
The biggest strength for Cole is his blazing fastball, which can touch 100 mph with consistency. The key going forward for him will be to locate that pitch, and also his off-speed pitches as well. For someone that can throw as hard as Cole does, he did not rack up the strikeouts this season in Triple-A Indianapolis.
He started 12 games for them and only accumulated 48 punchouts in 68 innings thrown. He did have issues with his control early during the season, as indicated by the 28 walks that were issued by him. However, he still managed to get the opposition out even with the high walk rate.
He only gave up 5.8 hits per nine innings, and his WHIP was also low at 1.05. So this shows that he knows to pitch out of jams.
The most impressive part of this first start was that he walked no batters and his control was superb. He did not appear nervous at all, and he looked poised on the mound. He also started the game off by retiring the first 13 batters that he faced.
Cole is going to put the Pirates in a tough position going forward, because what happens when Wandy Rodriguez is eligible to return from the DL. If he is able to carry the success from the first start into the next one, then maybe the Pirates may have to consider moving one of their starters to the bullpen.
He has a bright future ahead of him and along with A.J. Burnett they could make a lethal combination at the top of the staring rotation.