After struggling somewhat in his first three starts this year (eight earned runs allowed in 11.1 innings), New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole had a vintage outing on Sunday, in the Bombers’ 10-2 victory over the Cleveland Guardians to complete a sweep.
The right-hander stayed on the mound for 6.2 innings, in which allowed just four hits and a walk, with no runs. He struck out nine Guardians, an impressive feat that suggests he may be back to his best version.
“He’s Gerrit Cole. He’s one of the best pitchers in the sport,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone told MLB.com after the game. “So he wants to do his thing, and there’s that pressure of breaking through and having this kind of outing. But I also feel like it’s been right there on the surface.”
He set the tone nicely from the first at-bat, striking out Myles Straw with a 99 mph four-seamer. He averaged 97.7 mph with his four-seamer and earned five strikeouts with it, plus two on his slider, one on his curveball and one on his new cutter.
The Yankees’ ace was “about to pop”
“I haven’t been kidding when I’ve said it’s about to pop,” the Yankees’ skipper said of Cole breaking out of his funk. “I feel like he knows he’s there. I think he’s frustrated and pissed a little bit that he hasn’t gone out and had that game yet. But I feel like mentally he knows he’s there. … That’s part of the reason I’ve been heartened even after these first few starts, is I feel like he knows this has been coming.”
Cole, according to Statcast Bombers, averaged 2,483 RPMs of spin on his fastball and sat at 97.2 mph with 6.5 feet of extension against on Sunday. He 2,530 RPMs of spin on his four-seamer and sat at 97.1 mph with 6.3 feet of extension in 2019, the best season of his career in which he deserved the Cy Young award. He’s back to form, even though he implied he was doubting himself after several mediocre outings in a row to start the year.
“I’m a human being, so …” he said after being asked if he was doubting himself. “But I don’t really have time to dwell on it. We’ve got bigger things to take care of.”
The Yankees appear to have their ace back.