Gerrit Cole got off to a fantastic start in his first full season with the New York Yankees. Cole pitched to a 1.37 ERA in his first eight starts, putting him second to Jacob deGrom in terms of ERA across MLB.
However, Cole’s last four starts have raised some eyebrows with recent struggles. Dating back to May 17 against the Texas Rangers, Cole has a 4.30 ERA over four starts and his season ERA has increased nearly an entire run. Of his last four starts, Cole’s allowed five earned runs in two of them with at least one home run allowed in both.
Cole’s strikeout numbers have also decreased of late, him striking out no more than seven batters in his last four starts. Prior to when his struggles began on May 17, Cole had punched out 10 or more batters in five of his first eight starts.
Even before his struggles really began, we saw a game against the Houston Astros on May 6 where Cole only struck out four batters. That number is low for just about every starter, not just Gerrit Cole. It could’ve been just a bad start or due to the fact of how familiar the Astros are with Cole, but it’s still a little concerning.
One of the only things that are really attested to Cole’s recent struggles is spin rate. MLB is looking to crack down on foreign substances, something Cole and other pitchers have frequently been accused of using. Over his last four starts, Cole’s spin rates are down to around 2500 from around 3000 on his fastball, a surprising number. The lower that spin rates are, the more likely a batter is to hit the ball hard. If Cole was truly using foreign substances, his struggles could potentially be due to his adjustment of pitching without them.
Regardless, the Yankees need Gerrit Cole of old back. The team is still struggling to hit, meaning they are even more reliant on the success of Cole and the rest of the pitching staff to win games.