Gerrit Cole Fantastic Again, Pirates Win 5-2 in Anaheim

Gerrit Cole Pirates

Gerrit Cole went heavy on his heavy fastball for terrific results in his third start. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

For all the adjectives I could use to describe Gerrit Cole’s stuff and location Friday night, I will choose “erotic.”

During the Pirates’ 5-2 victory Friday night in Anaheim, Cole pitched 100 mph or faster eight different times, including 101.8 mph once. More than half his pitches were 96 mph or faster. He threw 67 fastballs during his 88 pitches (or what I would classify as fastballs) and kept the Angels out of synch searching for answers.

Here is a rough guide to classifying Cole’s pitches, if indeed such nasty stuff can have traditional classifications. You should remember that Anaheim’s radar gun appears to measure pitches a bit faster than Pittsburgh’s does.

  • Four-seam fastball (96-100 mph)
  • Two-seam fastball (92-96 mph)
  • Changeup (89-91 mph)
  • Slider/Slurve (81-84 mph)
Gerrit Cole

Gerrit Cole’s velocity nearly touched 102 mph Friday night. (Courtesy: Brooks Baseball)

As efficient as Cole was, he had room to improve even there. Using the two metrics manager Clint Hurdle cites to measure efficiency: Cole retired 9 of his 24 batters on three or less and got into 6 three-ball counts. He lost his control in his last inning by allowing a four-pitch walk to Mark Trumbo. But his pitches were less hittable with a season-high 10 whiffs and five strikeouts, including two K’s of former MVP Albert Pujols and one of future MVP Mike Trout.

Cole retired his first seven hitters, then allowed two hits that could have easily been stopped. Hank Conger hit a ground ball through the hole with the infield shifted and Peter Bourjos plopped a bloop single just over the outstretched glove of Neil Walker. He got nine groundouts in total, putting him in the top-quarter of Major League starters in grounder rate so far, and retired 11 straight hitters after the two soft singles.

In the 7th inning, Gerrit Cole finally gave up his first career home run (to Albert Pujols, of course) and first career walk, showing he still has work to do in attacking hitters his third time through opposing lineups. But Cole did not have to worry about those two runs allowed that inning, especially since Vin Mazzaro stranded the baserunner he left behind.

Support to Get Cole to 3-0

For his third straight game, Cole out-pitched a former Cy Young pitcher or Cy Young runner-up. Jered Weaver left two high, mid-80s fastballs up in the zone for Pedro Alvarez (VIDEO) and Jordy Mercer (VIDEO) to homer over the fence in the 2nd inning.

That would have been enough to support Cole, but Starling Marte hit an “RBI triple” that was really center fielder Peter Bourjos losing track of a flyball. Andrew McCutchen added an insurance run in the 9th with an RBI double off Michael Kohn. Gaby Sanchez almost hit an RBI double to left as well, but Mike Trout engaged his go-go-gadget rocket legs and went full extension to rob him blind.

The Pirates’ win, capped by Jason Grill striking out two hitters for a 1-2-3 league-leading save, corresponded with St. Louis and Cincinnati losing. This is what the Bucs can be: Alvarez and Mercer home runs propping up a filthy start from Gerrit Cole. The future is now, and it looks damn sexy for the Pirates.

James Santelli

Author: James Santelli

James covers the Pirates beat for Pirates Prospects. He is a Broadcast Journalism student at USC and has written for such outlets as NBCOlympics.com, Pittsburgh Magazine and the official websites of the Los Angeles Clippers and Pittsburgh Penguins. James previously covered the Pirates for Pittsburgh Sports Report. He also broadcasts play-by-play for the USC Trojans baseball team and was awarded the 2013 Chick Hearn Memorial Scholarship and Allan Malamud Scholarship. James dispenses puns at his Twitter account (@JamesSantelli) where he promises to write in first-person. Google

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  • blackmax

    Damn, that was fun to watch. More games like this and mid to high end free agents will start calling the Pirates in the offseason.

  • deacs

    I think Cole made some good progress tonight. And oh by the way we got the win too. I feel like he used his offspeed stuff a little more but I have no stats to back that up. Split the next two and we’ve got another successful series. As always good write up.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrew.smalley.35 Andrew Smalley

    I think you’re missing what was his best pitch: the hard, short-breaking slide-piece that was around 90-92. It struck-out Trout and Pujols.

    It’s similar to Harvey’s slider. It doesn’t have a ton of horizontal break, but it breaks down vertically on outer half. Trout swung for strike 3, so did Pujols in his 2nd K.

    It was filthy. Also, he threw a 93 mph CH to strike out Pujols in the 1st. Yes, 93……

    Impressive.

    • esd4

      I think that 93 mph pitch that K’d Pujols in the first was actually a two-seamer. They showed a good slo-mo shot of it on the Angels’ broadcast, and the grip was really weird, sort of a combination of a CH, two-seamer, and splitter. He was gripping it with the seams like you would a two-seamer, but only with his middle finger. He had the ring and pinky off the ball and the index finger outside the seams, on the side of the ball almost like a circle change, except he wasn’t making the circle with his thumb. Weird grip, awesome pitch, whatever it was.

      I think Santelli’s right that to an extent you just can’t classify these pitches. He’s doing stuff that defies our current categorizations.

  • http://www.finner.smugmug.com finner68

    Cole was good. This was the hardest he has thrown since he has been with the Pirates and his motion seems effortless. It was fun to watch.

    Alvarez put a great swing on a high fastball. Mercer also crushed his homer.

    Any thoughts on Mercer playing 2B more often?

  • leadoff

    Oh, the outrage when they send Cole back, I can’t see them keeping him up unless they make a deal somewhere for one of the starting pitchers ahead of him.
    Cole is good enough to make any ones starting staff with the exception of the Pirates when they are all healthy and they all will be in less than 2 weeks.
    If it were me I probably would do the unheard of and use a 6 man staff going forward, IMO, it would keep the starters fresh going down the stretch.

  • buc em all

    Cole aint goin back to Indy he’s filthy n he fills up the seats at pnc nutting will Scrooge mcduck in the cash

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=661881564 Bob Smith

    What about a trade for Trumbo is that possible and what would it cost us

    • James Santelli

      I don’t think the Angels deal Trumbo, even if they are out of it this season. He is under team control through 2016. Better to look elsewhere.