Reds Discipline Key to Success Against Cole

Gerrit Cole seems to evolve more and more into an ace each time he pitches this season.

But there’s been a few exceptions.

The Cincinnati Reds have been able to pause that evolution in each of their three games against Cole in 2015. In his career, Cole is 0-3 with a 5.53 ERA against Cincinnati after the Pirates lost 5-2 Wednesday.

The Reds tagged him for five runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings. It was the first outing this season Cole gave up more than three runs and failed to pitch at least five innings.

Cole is now 11-3 this season with a 2.16 ERA, still a stellar line for any pitcher.

But against the Reds this year, he is 0-2 in three starts with a 6.75 ERA. Cole has allowed 23 earned runs on the season,  11 of which were scored in 14 2/3 innings by Cincinnati.

In 12 starts against the rest of the league Cole is 11-1 with a 1.33 ERA. So how have the Reds, now 33-37, been the one team that seems to repeat some success against one of the game’s best pitchers?

They make him work. Hard.

Cole hasn’t lasted more than five innings in any of his three starts against Cincinnati. He needed 92 pitches to get through his first start of the year April 8 at Great American Ballpark, then another 91 to pitch five frames at home May 6.

Wednesday, the story was no different.

The Reds made Cole throw at least five pitches in 11 of their 24 plate appearances against him.

Of Cole’s 106 pitches thrown Wednesday night, 40 of them were delivered with two strikes in the count.

The right-hander said he didn’t bring out his best delivery which caused complications in matchups with hitters.

“I was kind of throwing across my body tonight, didn’t really have a good change of planes on the fastball or the breaking ball,” Cole said. “I think that contributed a lot to the foul balls and not being able to put guys away.”

While the Reds aren’t contenders as in years past they still boast a potent offense with solid players who have seen and hit a few pitches in their day. Joey Votto, Todd Frazier, Jay Bruce and Marlon Byrd are a few that come to mind.

“They’ve got some veteran presence in that lineup that from time to time is able to throw up some pretty good at-bats against him,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

Cincinnati scored four runs on Cole in the first as Frazier and Bruce hit back-to-back RBI doubles. Byrd followed Bruce by sending the first-pitch fastball he saw from Cole into the bushes behind center field.

All five of Cincinnati’s runs scored came with two outs.

“They were very selectively-aggressive tonight, especially in the first inning,” Cole said. “When they got a pitch they were looking for and knew that they could handle, they put good swings on the ball and that’s what they’re supposed to do.”

On Frazier’s double, the inning could have ended. As Starling Marte saved a run in the seventh inning of Tuesday’s game by laying out to catch a low line drive off Frazier’s bat with a man on third, Gregory Polanco was unable to do the same.

Frazier reached out to poke a slider from Cole that was low and away into right field that a sliding Polanco couldn’t wrangle to end the inning with the game still scoreless.

“There was a tipping point,” Hurdle said. “He was one pitch away from getting out of the inning.”

Cincinnati scored in the fifth when Byrd knocked Votto home and Cole out of the game.

While Cole has dominated, or at least found a way to win, just about every time he’s been on the mound, there’s always the potential for the bug-windshield dichotomy.

“He’s a human being,” Hurdle said. “Sometimes it’s just not going to work. He’s going to do everything he can to get outs and win games and pitch well. Sometimes it doesn’t work.”

Usually the windshield, and an intimidating one at that, Cole was just the bug.

“It came down to not executing pitches and just being flat today,” Cole said. “It happens sometimes.”

And even though the Reds have found success against him, don’t think manager Bryan Price and his clubhouse look forward to his time on the mound.

“I don’t look and say, ‘Hey we’re getting Gerrit Cole this time through, I sure am happy about that,’” Price said. “There’s certain starters in the league where you’re going I hope that guy ends up pitching against us because we hit him really, really good. But Gerrit Cole is not one of them. We beat him typically in low-scoring games, if we beat him.”

  • While your right nate about the reds having coles # it looked to me like that discipline was helped a good deal by some bad umpiring. Not just the pirates but other games i’ve watched as well the umps are looking pretty atrocious this year

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    June 25, 2015 12:01 pm

    Good thing Cueto was pushed back – otherwise that would now be 5 losses in a row…first base and RF are hurting this team a lot and Walker and Marte are in deep slumps as well

    • Yes. And if it wasn’t night, it would be day. Great job of hindsight there.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    June 25, 2015 12:00 pm

    I thought Stewart was brought back because he was a strong defensive catcher and could throw out runners? His throwing has been pretty mediocre, in the games I have seen.

    • Stewart throwing out 36% of baserunners, otherwise known as 26th best in baseball. That list includes anyone with any games played at C, so of guys who have seen more than 5-10 games at C, he is roughly 20th in CS percentage. Easily better than league average.

      • And to add, he was 1 for 3 last night, and 1 for 1 on runners not named Billy Hamilton. Hamilton pretty much has to screw up somehow and you still have to get a perfect throw off in order to catch him.

  • piraterican21
    June 25, 2015 10:24 am

    The Pirates got out scouted and out planned that’s all

  • Of course STL wins when we lose. Damn them!
    The bats continue to be an issue and I’m on a # mission to pursue Freddy Freeman from the Braves for this team.
    The offense is good, but I’m convinced it’s time for Pedro to move out and for us to get a playoff caliber 1b.
    I still like Pedro, but he’s obviously a late bloomer and we need offense this year. Freeman should be the target. I’ve talked about a pkg of players including Pedro in the deal – Tony Sanchez, Gift, Harold Ramirez, Rojas, Jacoby Jones, Heredia, and/or other pitchers with potential – Holmes, Keller.
    Get the player in this case – that is why the team built a strong system to get the player. Freeman is the right kind of player as well. Young and controllable and productive. A core guy.
    There may be other guys available but he’d be my first and primary target. Atlanta is rebuilding too so the timing is right.

    • You wouldn’t have a chance without seeing a couple of names in there like a Glasnow and/or a Taillon plus a Hanson and one lesser prospect. Freeman is young, signed for a long term rather reasonable contract, and who would they replace him with ? John Hart isn’t that dumb.

    • You basically just said you want a young, above average 1Bmen signed to a long term non crippling contract for whatever assortment of non top system prospect the Braves would take. ATL would either laugh or choke at that list of players.

      ATL rebuilding also isnt helpful, since the length of Freeman’s contact makes him a good candidate for “lets build around him” guy. ATL wont plan to rebuild for 4 continuous years.

    • The unfortunate fact in the league right now is that any decent first baseman is either signed to one of the most ridiculous contracts in all of baseball (Cabrera, Pujols, Fielder, Votto) or is a cornerstone of their current club (Goldy, Freeman, Rizzo, Hosmer, Belt).

      And that’s without even starting to discuss which clubs will be buyers or sellers.

      This is completely hindsight, but the Pirates missed a huge opportunity last spring. The Mets were more than willing to trade Ike Davis OR Lucas Duda to the first club to offer something reasonable. The Pirates knew this, and instead chose to wait for whichever guy could be had cheapest. Neither guy at the time was a world beater, but Duda was unquestionably the better hitter on an upward trajectory, and since then all he’s done is produce the 7th most offense of any first baseman in baseball.

      Incredible missed opportunity.

    • Scott Kliesen
      June 25, 2015 2:24 pm

      I live in Atlanta and I can assure you Braves are counting on Freeman to be the next Chipper Jones, not the next Jayson Heyward. He will be cornerstone of franchise as it moves into new park in ’17. Bank on it.

      Bell is our 1B of the future. Bank on that, too.

  • The first inning hinged on walking Hamilton. If he is not on first they score no runs

    • It might very well have hinged on the umpire missing an absolutely easy strike 3 call on Bruce.

      • 2-3 run missed call right there, along with 10+ more pitches for Cole. Cole did his job well enough to only give up 1-2 runs overall, the ump didnt really do his job well all night.

  • Difference in this game and opening game of series was Polanco’s inability to dive forward and snag Frazier’s liner like Marte did the day before.

  • Billy Hamliton is having an awful season. But not against the Bucs. The guy has a a walk rate below 6%. He’s hitting .225 with an OPS of .270. Just pitch to him.

    • Agreed. If he ropes a double (somehow) it’s no different because with a walk he’s on second with in minutes anyway with a steal. It’s not like Votto or Frazier or Bruce where he can really hurt you with the bat. You HAVE to pitch to Hamilton.

  • This stung…horribly…and obviously. Still, Cole is having one heck of a season.