Yankees want to pencil their ace for at least 200 innings

Andres Chavez
Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees
Sep 29, 2020; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) delivers against the Cleveland Indians in the fourth inning at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The short 2020 MLB season broke all sorts of routines and habits, both for hitters and for pitchers. Ideally, hurlers build their innings count on a yearly basis to reach a maximum of 200, perhaps a bit more depending on the specific case. A 60 game campaign meant that the league leader had 84. In the case of New York Yankees’ ace Gerrit Cole, he pitched 73 frames last year.

That’s why any considerable jump will be noteworthy. However, in Cole’s case, the fact that he surpassed 200 innings the previous three seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Houston Astros should help. His body is used to big workloads, and last season’s events shouldn’t be on the way of planning his 2021 load.

The Yankees know this. Manager Aaron Boone said over the weekend that he would like for Cole to pitch at least 200 innings, and the pitcher has no problems with that.

“I haven’t put a number on it, but my goal every year is to go deep into games and make as many starts as I’m asked,” Cole told MLB.com. “We’re a start away from being built up at this point, and it’s been as normal a spring as I’ve had in my career.”

The Yankees’ best pitcher is a start away from being fully built up

The Yankees’ ace hurled five frames on Sunday, with only one run allowed (a Marcus Semien home run) and eight strikeouts in a win against the Toronto Blue Jays.

“I needed to get through five [innings] and 75 [pitches],” Cole said. “We wanted to move the fastball better today. I thought we had some good runs of located pitches and we mixed well. As you’re continuing to build up, it’s important to make sure you hit the threshold of the amount of mix that you want to bring out the regular season, while also throwing the amount of pitches.”

Although he pitched to backup Kyle Higashioka on Sunday, the Yankees announced that it will be Gary Sanchez the one behind the plate on Opening Day.

“I think all our catchers have come in super prepared,” Cole said. “They’re working hard. Everybody’s been healthy for the most part. It was good to see Kyle out there today and feeling good. I’ve gotten to work with everybody, and we’re really laying a good foundation as a group.”