Should the New York Yankees expect Gerrit Cole to struggle in his first year as a Bomber?

Alexander Wilson
New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole
Mar 5, 2020; Lakeland, Florida, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) reacts on the mound during the first inning against the Detroit Tigers at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Should we be expecting New York Yankees‘ Gerrit Cole to dominate or have a rocky start in Yankee Stadium?

When you spend $324 million on any given player, you usually expect them to be one of the best on the team. The New York Yankees did just that with starting pitcher Gerrit Cole this off-season, locking him into a nine-year deal.

Cole dominated with the Houston Astros in 2019, posting a 2.50 ERA with 326 strikeouts. He also recorded 20 overall wins but did struggle in the home run department a bit compared to other seasons. Last year marked the second-highest number of home runs he’s given up (29), with the highest being in 2017 (31). However, he still finished as a runner up for the Cy Young award and was an All-Star. He had the lowest WHIP of his entire career at 0.895, and a career-high strikeout to walk ratio of 6.79.

Coming to the Bronx can be intimidating, as Yankee Stadium has a short right porch and can be a liability for pitchers who are unaware of that reality. Dealing with inconsistent weather conditions is also a factor that will play a part, especially since Cole is coming from a moderately dry Texas landscape.

One New York Yankees pitcher who saw a massive drop off in 2019:

One starting pitcher that struggled in his second season with the Yankees was Jay a hat. He posted an elevated 4.9 1 ERA over 31 games pitched. He was left out of the postseason starting rotation for that reason, after having a successful 2018, spending 11 games with the Yankees and recording a 7-0 record. That small sample size was predominantly away games, and having a more significant role at home saw him struggle. He allowed 34 home runs in 2019, the highest in his entire career.

Now, we shouldn’t expect Cole to fall into the same hole that happened did, but we should be optimistically cautious of his 2020 production.

However, some pitchers joined the Yankees in full stride, like Masahiro Tanaka. The Japanese born player joined the Yankees in 2014, earning an All-Star appearance and posting a 2.77 ERA with 141 strikeouts. That is his best ERA since moving over to Major League Baseball, and in his first year, it was truly spectacular. That is one counter-argument to the idea that pitchers can struggle initially in the Bronx.

Overall, when you have a play as talented as Cole, worrying about him struggling in a new environment shouldn’t even be an after-thought. He should be 100% ready to go once the 2020 season begins and his level of play ‘should’ be up to par with the money he’s earning from the Steinbrenner’s.