The Pirates have officially announced that Gerrit Cole will be starting the Wild Card game on October 7th against the Chicago Cubs.

According to Clint Hurdle, this was an easy decision, and a decision the Pirates seemed to have made weeks ago by the way they planned out their rotation over the last three weeks.

“We pretty much had scripted it out when we scripted the entire back end of September,” Hurdle said. “If there would’ve been a play-in game with the Cardinals, he would’ve been eligible to pitch that game. If there wasn’t a wild card game then he would’ve been eligible for game one [in the NLDS]. It’s been in play for a while.”

This move comes as no surprise, as the 25-year old has established himself as the staff ace. Cole’s 2.60 ERA is the lowest earned run average that a Pirates’ starter has finished with since Rick Reuschel finished with a 2.27 ERA in 1985 (minimum of 100 IP). Cole also has postseason experience to draw from – he pitched in the deciding Game five of the NLDS in 2013.

“I’m just going to treat it like any other game,” Cole said. “Obviously there’s big ramifications, but it’s the nature of the business.”

Cole will also draw from his experiences of watching Pirates’ starters Francisco Liriano and Edinson Volquez  participate in the last two NL Wild Card games. Liriano’s experience in 2013 was extremely successful – he pitched seven strong innings against the Reds, giving up only one run on four hits and one free pass. However, Volquez’s experience last season did not go as smoothly. Volquez allowed five earned runs in his five innings of work, which included three walks and a grand slam in the fourth inning.

“You’ve gotta stay aggressive,” Cole said of his approach to the game. “I thought Francisco was really aggressive. I thought he trusted his stuff, trusted his defense and went out and got the job done. Certainly went down swinging if he was going down.”

Cole continued, “I thought the grand slam was a little unfortunate [in last year’s Wild Card game]. But just goes to show you, you can’t give teams opportunities by giving them free passes. You have to minimize damage in situations.”

Cole rarely beats himself, as shown by his 1.90 BB/9. It is attractive trait to have when choosing a pitcher for a one-game elimination scenario, and a trait that most ace-level pitchers have.

“This one for me, it was cut-and-dry when we set this rotation three weeks ago,” Hurdle explained. “This is our guy.”

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9 COMMENTS

  1. How will Cole handle the pressure of knowing he has to be perfect to win this game? This team can’t hit Finnegan and Lyons how the hell are they going to hit Arrieta. He’s pitched 36 innings against us he’s given up 3 ER on 18 hits This doesn’t look good at all .

      • well, here’s the thing Chris and Jack- we probably aren’t going to beat Arrieta, but that doesn’t mean we lose the game. That is what you have to remember. Teams make errors, especially YOUNG teams. We need a good gameplan, not necessarily to BEAT Arrieta, but to win the game. Run up the pitch count, take lots of pitches foul lots of pitches off. When we get baserunners, be aggressive, run often. If we are within 1 run and get Arrieta out of the game after 6 innings, we’ve got a decent shot. If you look at both of these pitchers, chances are, its is likely to be 2-1 Cubs going into the 7th inning. That isn’t so bad if Hurdle can manage the game right and our team comes up big when it has to.

        • Agree on winning the game over beating Arrieta, but (as was discussed elsewhere) i dont see the best strategy of doing that as being take pitches.

          Taking pitches against a TOR arm who doesnt walk many=a ton of hitting behind in the count. It’ll maybe help Arrieta exit after 6-7 innings, but it increases the odds it’ll be 6-7 shutout innings. All hitters averages drop a ton when behind and with 2 strikes. Nothing wrong with swinging at early strikes (particularly FBs) as long as its a strike.

    • I think this narrative of Jake is the hammer and Cole is the nail is going to work in the Pirates favor. Please keep crowing about how bad it looks for Pirates. Tell all your friends to do the same. It’s music to this fans ears.

    • Cole is very capable of matching zeroes with Arrieta. Remember, the Cubs are the young team with no post season experience. I believe it will show at some point during the game. Get the game to the bullpens and we’ll win it.

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