The Problem With Gerrit Cole

Cole struggled in his start yesterday, needing 116 pitches in 6.2 innings.

For the last few weeks, UCLA starting pitcher Gerrit Cole has been getting more and more attention for the first overall pick in the 2011 draft, thanks to his strong start to the 2011 season, and struggles from Anthony Rendon.  As I’ve pointed out many times, Cole’s talent is definitely there, making him worthy of consideration for the first overall pick, over Rendon.  However, there’s a huge risk with college pitchers, and despite his big 6′ 4″, 215 pound frame, Cole is no exception.

It’s easy to forget the risks involved with college pitchers when looking at Cole.  In his first game he threw a complete game shutout, needing just 104 pitches.  Later he threw a complete game shutout, needing just 101 pitches this time around.  Cole hasn’t had any alarming starts, so the high pitch count factor has been removed from the equation.  That wasn’t the case last night.

I’ll admit that Cole is getting closer to a 50/50 battle with Rendon in my book, but last night’s start reminded me why Rendon is my clear favorite.  It wasn’t because Cole allowed four runs on seven hits in 6.2 innings.  It was because Cole threw 116 pitches in those 6.2 innings.  Throwing 116 pitches in a complete game isn’t that bad, since it’s a very efficient pace.  Throwing 116 pitches in 6.2 innings is a concern.

The bigger concern is that it’s only March, and Cole is already topping 100 pitches in non-complete games.  Don’t expect that to be a one time thing.  UCLA’s offense has been horrible.  During yesterday’s start, Cole completed a stretch where he went about 20 innings straight with no run support.  UCLA is out to win, and if their offense continues to struggle, don’t expect Cole to be pulled early.  He will be in the game longer, to allow them the best chance to win, or stay in the game.  With two months until the draft, that could be a huge concern.

For a good, first hand report on Cole’s start yesterday, check out this post on Bucs Dugout.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • http://twitter.com/Spazaru Murray Passarieu

    I think the injuries with Rendon are a concern too; maybe a third choice will emerge, but I like Cole. I like that he’s been in a competitive environment with UCLA and he seems to be mentally tough. I guess as the rest of the college season plays out, we’ll see. I’d almost as soon have Trevor Bauer from UCLA as Cole, but there are so many great college pitchers in this draft, it’s possible one of the others will distinguish themselves in the next couple of months.

  • Anonymous

    Rendon, Rendon, Rendon!!

    ………

  • The Hammer

    Yes, it’s only March but the college calendar is very different than that of MLB. UCLA is well into their season. It ends in June–which I know you know.

    I don’t really understand your point about pitch counts. In one paragraph you note that “the high pitch count factor has been removed from the equation,” and then you cite 116 pitches last night as evidence that he is at risk of being overused?

    Last night should support the fact that they are paying close attention and won’t abuse him. They took him out mid-inning at 116 pitches. I’ll bet a lot of money he never throws more than 120 pitches in any outing this year.

    The kid pitches once a week and this is his high pitch count. I think you got the story backwards. He hasn’t thrown a lot of pitches or innings this year and Friday night, the first time all year he wasn’t monster efficient or effective, UCLA pulled him mid-inning in the 7th to make sure they didn’t abuse him. That should be lauded.

  • The Hammer

    Yes, it’s only March but the college calendar is very different than that of MLB. UCLA is well into their season. It ends in June–which I know you know.

    I don’t really understand your point about pitch counts. In one paragraph you note that “the high pitch count factor has been removed from the equation,” and then you cite 116 pitches last night as evidence that he is at risk of being overused?

    Last night should support the fact that they are paying close attention and won’t abuse him. They took him out mid-inning at 116 pitches. I’ll bet a lot of money he never throws more than 120 pitches in any outing this year.

    The kid pitches once a week and this is his high pitch count. I think you got the story backwards. He hasn’t thrown a lot of pitches or innings this year and Friday night, the first time all year he wasn’t monster efficient or effective, UCLA pulled him mid-inning in the 7th to make sure they didn’t abuse him. That should be lauded.

  • The Hammer

    Yes, it’s only March but the college calendar is very different than that of MLB. UCLA is well into their season. It ends in June–which I know you know.

    I don’t really understand your point about pitch counts. In one paragraph you note that “the high pitch count factor has been removed from the equation,” and then you cite 116 pitches last night as evidence that he is at risk of being overused?

    Last night should support the fact that they are paying close attention and won’t abuse him. They took him out mid-inning at 116 pitches. I’ll bet a lot of money he never throws more than 120 pitches in any outing this year.

    The kid pitches once a week and this is his high pitch count. I think you got the story backwards. He hasn’t thrown a lot of pitches or innings this year and Friday night, the first time all year he wasn’t monster efficient or effective, UCLA pulled him mid-inning in the 7th to make sure they didn’t abuse him. That should be lauded.

  • The Hammer

    Yes, it’s only March but the college calendar is very different than that of MLB. UCLA is well into their season. It ends in June–which I know you know.

    I don’t really understand your point about pitch counts. In one paragraph you note that “the high pitch count factor has been removed from the equation,” and then you cite 116 pitches last night as evidence that he is at risk of being overused?

    Last night should support the fact that they are paying close attention and won’t abuse him. They took him out mid-inning at 116 pitches. I’ll bet a lot of money he never throws more than 120 pitches in any outing this year.

    The kid pitches once a week and this is his high pitch count. I think you got the story backwards. He hasn’t thrown a lot of pitches or innings this year and Friday night, the first time all year he wasn’t monster efficient or effective, UCLA pulled him mid-inning in the 7th to make sure they didn’t abuse him. That should be lauded.

  • The Hammer

    Yes, it’s only March but the college calendar is very different than that of MLB. UCLA is well into their season. It ends in June–which I know you know.

    I don’t really understand your point about pitch counts. In one paragraph you note that “the high pitch count factor has been removed from the equation,” and then you cite 116 pitches last night as evidence that he is at risk of being overused?

    Last night should support the fact that they are paying close attention and won’t abuse him. They took him out mid-inning at 116 pitches. I’ll bet a lot of money he never throws more than 120 pitches in any outing this year.

    The kid pitches once a week and this is his high pitch count. I think you got the story backwards. He hasn’t thrown a lot of pitches or innings this year and Friday night, the first time all year he wasn’t monster efficient or effective, UCLA pulled him mid-inning in the 7th to make sure they didn’t abuse him. That should be lauded.

  • The Hammer

    Yes, it’s only March but the college calendar is very different than that of MLB. UCLA is well into their season. It ends in June–which I know you know.

    I don’t really understand your point about pitch counts. In one paragraph you note that “the high pitch count factor has been removed from the equation,” and then you cite 116 pitches last night as evidence that he is at risk of being overused?

    Last night should support the fact that they are paying close attention and won’t abuse him. They took him out mid-inning at 116 pitches. I’ll bet a lot of money he never throws more than 120 pitches in any outing this year.

    The kid pitches once a week and this is his high pitch count. I think you got the story backwards. He hasn’t thrown a lot of pitches or innings this year and Friday night, the first time all year he wasn’t monster efficient or effective, UCLA pulled him mid-inning in the 7th to make sure they didn’t abuse him. That should be lauded.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TQC5HKTKJ52MK7PN2CBR4JIWYQ Kevin

    I don’t think pitch count should be a concern for Cole at this point. Between now and the beginning of instructs it is unlikely that he’ll throw more than 1200 pitches. Virtually all Pirate minor league starters will exceed that amount.

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