The New York Yankees made the splash of the offseason when they secured the services of ace pitcher Gerrit Cole on a record-breaking nine-year, $324 contract. The right-hander was utterly dominant in 2019 with the Houston Astros and will now lead the Bombers’ rotation for years to come.
He made a great impression on Thursday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, sitting in the mid-to-high 90s and touching 99 miles per hour on the radar gun against live hitters such as Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks and Luke Voit. Needless to say, pitching coach Matt Blake was impressed.
Blake said that Cole was already in midseason form, filling the strike zone with fastballs for three innings. The righty had remained active in the stoppage by throwing occasional bullpen sessions, but Thursday was the first time he faced live hitters since the action was halted in mid-March.
“He looked good,” Blake said. “He’s moving right along in his progression. We kind of set the bar for kind of what we’re going to build on, targeting three weeks out and getting ready for the regular season. He’s in a really good spot, and the nice thing is it doesn’t take fans in the stands to get him amped. We’re good there.”
The Yankees’ ace stole the show
Reliever Adam Ottavino also took the mound and threw a couple of innings. Radley Haddad was the catcher, and manager Aaron Boone and assistant hitting coach P.J. Pilittere were among those looking at the action.
Yet, the New York Yankees’ frontline starter was the one who stole the show, evidently.
“He’s pretty close to game speed,” Blake said of Cole. “I think we’re game-ready with velocity. Now it’s kind of just fine-tuning it and sustaining over longer pitch counts. I think he feels good about where he is. He’s always a critic of himself, tightening things up [like] a certain pitch to a certain location. I think we’re building a nice baseline for him.”