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Gerrit Cole will start game two against the Cardinals. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Gerrit Cole Continues His Ace-Like Month of September

Gerrit Cole has a 1.69 ERA in 32 innings in September, with a 39:10 K/BB ratio and a 1.06 WHIP.. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Gerrit Cole has a 1.69 ERA in 32 innings in September, with a 39:10 K/BB ratio and a 1.06 WHIP.. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

There weren’t many innings where tonight’s game was in question. The only time it was really close was in the sixth inning. Gerrit Cole had gone five innings, giving up just one run, but ran into trouble in the sixth and put the game on the line despite a five run lead.

The right-hander started off with two singles and a walk to load the bases with no outs. He got Anthony Rizzo to ground to Jordy Mercer, who misplayed what could have been a double play ball, and what would have easily been an out at second. That allowed a run to score, and kept the bases loaded for Cole with no outs. It also brought the tying run to the plate and got Bryan Morris and Justin Wilson warming up in the bullpen.

The biggest issue with Gerrit Cole earlier in the season was that he couldn’t get strikeouts in key situations. He did that in this situation. Cole struck out his next two batters, going from the bases loaded with no outs to the bases loaded with two outs in a huge swing in momentum. But he also got some help from Mother Nature. Donnie Murphy came up with two outs and hit a deep fly ball to right field. The ball was caught by Marlon Byrd, thanks to a strong wind that was blowing in from the outfield. With no wind, or wind blowing out, the game would have easily been tied. Instead, the game saw an animated Gerrit Cole exit after escaping the jam with minimal damage.

And that was it. Cole gave up three hits to start the second inning, but benefitted from a TOOTBLAN by Nate Schierholtz, thanks to Dioner Navarro’s slow base running. He got out of the inning with a double play ball, preserving a 3-0 lead, which quickly went to 4-0 when Jordy Mercer led off the next inning with a homer.

Cole finished the night with two runs on seven hits in six innings, giving up one walk and striking out six. This was his fifth straight game with six or more innings and two or fewer runs, and it was the seventh such game in his last eight (the other being a 7.1 IP, 4 R, 3 ER start). This was also the fourth start in a row where Cole struck out a batter an inning. In the start before this run he struck out five in six innings. In the month of September, Cole has been on fire. He has a 1.69 ERA in 32 innings, with a 39:10 K/BB ratio and a 1.06 WHIP.

Tonight he did more than just pitch well. He came up with two outs in the second inning, with runners at second and third and a one run lead. He helped himself out in a big way, hitting a two run single to give the Pirates what eventually became the go ahead run. The Pirates were also helped by Pedro Alvarez, who went 2-for-5 with two doubles and three runs knocked in on the night. Justin Wilson, Bryan Morris, and Kyle Farnsworth each came on to pitch shutout innings to close out the 8-2 win over the Cubs. Combined with the Reds losing to the Mets, that put the Pirates one game up for home field in a Wild Card game.

The continued success from Cole is great to see, especially at this point in the season. Earlier today it was announced that Jeff Locke would be skipped this weekend against the Reds, which almost certainly means that Cole will make the final start of the regular season. Depending on how the next three games go, that matchup could decide home field advantage for the Wild Card game. The Pirates will need a big pitcher for that game, and Cole has been one of the best in the rotation this month.

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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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Should Francisco Liriano Start the Wild Card Game on the Road?

  • https://profiles.google.com/112005585152702163048 Brian

    Ha… Thrown Out On The Basepaths Like A Nincompoop. Had to google that. But yes, TOOTBLAN is right lol

    • Y2JGQ2

      There was no chance that was a double-play ball unless navarro was running. it was barely going to be a force out. Lets be realistic.

  • Pigskin

    I’m hoping Hurdle hasn’t announced a Sunday starter yet because if the Wild Card game is at PNC then Liriano will start but if it is at Great American Ball Park then Cole with start. I think this would be a good choice since Liriano has struggled at hitter friendly parks this year (Milwaukee 9/4, Colorado 8/9, Cincinnati 7/19) but has excelled against teams at PNC. Whereas Cole has had some sort of Puig like “magic” if you will around him of late and every start he has just reeks of winning, especially on the road (see Texas start vs. Yu Darvish).

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

      Even when the starter is obvious, Hurdle doesn’t always announce it, citing a competitive advantage. I was surprised he announced so soon that Locke wouldn’t start this weekend.

    • SteveW

      Cole is likely going to be pitching Sunday – with the possible exception of one team or the other having clinched home field (and the Cards having clinched the division).

  • leadoff

    I wonder if the workload is catching up with Cole, he did not look the same this time out IMO as he did the last time out.

  • Y2JGQ2

    Also- in terms of being fair. The pirates hit 3 balls (Andrew and two by Alvarez) that would have been homers in a neutral or outward blowing wind. it was KILLING any balls hit to right field.

  • Y2JGQ2

    Cole was a little more hittable today especially with his fastball, he was routinely throwing 95 and that was about it until the last inning. He showed he could pitch, and still found a little extra (97) when he needed it, when on many days, that extra is 99+

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