Despite there being many starting pitchers on the market this offseason, Gerrit Cole is the only name the Yankees should be considering.
Only the New York Yankees could miss out on the World Series for a decade and instantly get hit with the pressure of a team that’s never even appeared in one. That’s New York for ya. Solution? Go out and sign Gerrit Cole.
Between 2010 and 2019 this team has had it’s ups and downs but one thing has remained the same – outside of CC Sabathia, the Bombers of the 2010’s have never had dominant workhorse to call to the bump every fifth day. This needs to change, and only the acquisition of Gerrit Cole will atone fore the past 10 years. Why is it so important the Yankees sign the 2019 Cy Young (CY) runner up? Let’s get into it.
Cole is the best available pitcher on this year’s free agent block and it really isn’t close. Yes, Stephen Strasburg, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Madison Bumgarner are available as well and while all three remain intriguing options, they all come with question marks.
Strasburg may be coming off the best season of his career and a World Series MVP. However, we cannot make the mistake of becoming prisoners of the moment. 2019 marked just the second season in his career that he reached the 200-inning threshold. Strasburg has seen a remarkably small workload for his level of talent over his decade long career, only surpassing 150 innings five times. This has to do partly with his injury history, but mostly with Nationals management. He simply is not prepared for the substantial workload that the Yankees require at this point in time.
Bumgarner presents similar issues. With his recent injuries, he has only tossed 448.1 innings since 2017 and has won just 4, 6 and 9 games respectively between 2017 and 2019. Mad Bum just isn’t the pitcher he used to be.
Ryu would be a total shot in the dark considering how his career has played out thus far. He burst onto the scene in 2013 going 14-8 with a 3.00 ERA. However injuries derailed his career forcing him to miss 2015 and 2016. Between 2017 and 2018 Ryu was a modest 12-12 with a 2.87 ERA on his was to his resurgence in 2019. He is just too inconsistent and too injury prone for a team that has certainly had their fare share.
Cole carries none of these problems, only solutions to a pitching staff that desperately needs them. The guy has made 99 starts over the past three seasons accumulating 798 strikeouts along the way. He led all of baseball in strikeouts per nine innings in 2018 and 2019 with 12.4 and 13.8 respectively. More strikeouts combined with his career 0.9 HR/9 is the perfect recipe for success in Yankee Stadium. But most importantly, unlike the other three aforementioned pitchers, Cole has had much of this success in the American League.
Since making the move the American League in 2018, Cole has not only been dominant, he’s surprisingly improved dramatically. During his first five MLB seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates Cole went 59-42 with a 3.50 ERA, 735 punchouts and a WHIP of 1.217. In just two years with Houston he has now gone 35-10 with a 2.68 ERA, 602 strikeouts and a WHIP of .962. Whether this had to do with learning under Justin Verlander, some sort of confidence boost or simply the winning environment of Houston, Cole has turned into one of the most reliable arms in baseball in the blink of an eye.
Cole’s time in Houston has not only showed us he can handle a lineup with a designated hitter (DH), it’s also showed that he can thrive on the big stage, and none is bigger than Yankee Stadium during a World Series drought. Out of all the pitchers available this offseason he’s the only one I see making a big enough impact to ring in the 2020’s with a championship.