On September 19, the Yankees were aiming for a wildcard spot in the postseason, and Ace Gerrit Cole lost to Cleveland 11-1 in a match that allowed seven runs. Relief Michael King steps into the clubhouse after the final out, finds Cole sitting in the locker of catcher Kyle Higashioka, and does something that suits his meticulous nature. There is.
“He was over all the pitches he had just thrown,” King said of Cole, who fired 104 shots that day. “He was like,’Is this the wrong pitch?'”
On Tuesday night, the Yankees lock in post-season hope to Cole. Cole is a right-handed star pitcher who recorded a nine-year, $ 324 million contract before the 2020 season. It’s an American League wild card game, not just against its rival Boston Red Sox. It is also in Fenway Park.
The Yankees have many reasons to be confident. The four-time All-Star Cole produced 243 strikeouts this season with an ERA of 3.23, a record of 16-8 and 181⅓ innings. And with 13 career starts after the season, his ERA was 2.68, including two Yankees wins in last year’s playoffs.
However, according to his teammates, what distinguishes 31-year-old Cole from other talented pitchers in baseball is his meticulous attention to detail and his enthusiastic baseball intelligence. He pushes to make himself and the people around him better. He provides hints not only to his fellow pitchers but also to the batters of his team. He often stands near Aaron Boone manager during the game and asks about his decision. He always loves to speak baseball.
“He lives, breathes, eats, and plays baseball,” Higashioka said. “He has some hobbies, but he only wants to talk about baseball. He may receive random text about the game of the night, or whatever he still thinks about.”
Since the wildcard game began in 2012, the Yankees have been 2-1 in one-game format, and as part of an expanded pandemic playoff, last year they also made progress as wildcards in the best three series. Cole, who had been the dominant force in the regular season for several years, lost to the Chicago Cubs in 2015, when he was with the Pittsburgh Pirates, his only wild card game, 4-0.
Cole spattered in the last month of the season (September 5.13 ERA), but if the Yankees end the 11-season World Series title drought, he’s expected to put a heavy load on the mound in October. increase. And outside the mound — at bargains, at clubhouses, by plane, or to eat out — the Yankees continue to rely on Cole’s baseball brains.
“I love games and I love my teammates, so it’s fun to talk about games,” Cole said recently. “And I think going back and forth with other craftsmen has some added value. Whether it’s sharing some things about your own personal deal, it’s Both are beneficial, whether they are better as a team. “
Throughout the season, Cole will occasionally drop in at his office to talk and talk about himself, his team, the season, whatever, according to Boone. He said he enjoyed it when Cole stood near him in a dugout during the game and talked to and asked him questions. He joked it only occasionally, he wants Cole to give him some space.
“He really, really cares and is interested in every aspect of the game,” Boone said. “On days when he’s not pitching, he’s fully invested. It’s just who he is. He’s smart, curious, asks why, and gives his opinion. He pointed out some really interesting things I go to, “Hmm, yeah.”
Cole said he would share with Boone whatever he knew or saw about his opponent. He also said he might ask Boone why he took the pitcher in a particular situation and why he didn’t, or why he made a particular decision. “I certainly don’t tell him what to do, but I ask him a question,” he said.
Cole’s teammates, batters and pitchers likewise said he would often make suggestions. Relief Chad Green said Cole is a useful resource for pitch selection. Jordan Montgomery was the best mark of his career with 3.83 ERA and 157⅓ innings this season. Cole said he would praise him when he was doing well.
King, an important multipurpose gear for the Yankees pitching staff, feels like Cole is talking about as much as pitching coach Matt during a recent strategic meeting for pitchers before the series with the Toronto Blue Jays. So he and his teammates said they were amused. I had something to say about Blake and each of the opposite batters. King said it’s all useful insights beyond video and analytics.
“He just wants everyone to be the best,” said Aaron Judge, a slugger who secured the Yankees position in the wild card game on Sunday’s walk-off single.
Throughout the season, Higashioka said Cole would mention him if he noticed a pattern of how his opponent pitched to him. The judge said Cole would sometimes ask him about his thought process for comparing notes after his turn at bat.
“He sits on the bench and thinks about it from both sides,” the judge said. “For example,” If you’re pitching now, how would you pitch this guy? “Or” What would this guy do if I were in the box? “He always We are one step ahead. “
Mr Higashioka said Cole also held him accountable. If Higashioka wants to attack his opponent’s batter at a pre-match meeting, but says he’s going to another route during the game, Higashioka said Cole will follow up and ask why.
“He definitely challenges me by making sure I’m always ready and making in-game decisions,” Higashioka said.
Blake, who had no major league coaching experience last year and became the Yankees pitching coach, said Cole pushed him in a similar way. “He’s so talented that he wants to be taught at a high level because many of you expect him to take responsibility for that person,” Blake said. rice field.
Cole said he was happy to say anything when he noticed something. That’s because it was the behavior of great teams and veteran teammates of the past, like AJ Burnett and Ryan Vogelsong when Cole began his career in Pittsburgh, and Justin Verlander when he blossomed in Houston.
“It’s a characteristic of a good team,” he said.
This season, Cole has encouraged his fellow pitchers, especially young pitchers, to think with Boone and his coach staff during the game. Vogelsong was sitting beside his Dougout coach during the match in Pittsburgh because he was able to learn from the team’s three-time World Series, Bruce Bochy, when he was with the San Francisco Giants. He said. Winning manager about game strategy.
During the game, starter Nestor Cortes said Cole stimulated such conversations between rotationmates and asked what he thought his teammates on the mound would throw.
“We went back and forth about the bargains:’Hey, what do you think? What did you get? What pitch is coming? What he thinks he’s going to do “Are you sure?” Said Cortez, whose 2.90ERA was an unexpected heavenly blessing for the Yankee Rotation this season. “It was fun and cool, and I learned a lot because now I can see another perspective of a great pitcher.”
Even when the Yankees go out for dinner, conversations are often directed to many aspects of baseball on and off the field. Cole, the union representative of the top players, is often the mastermind of chat because he knows the game well, according to Green.
“Whenever we have an opinion or question about something, he is our go-to man,” he said.
On Tuesday in Boston, Cole will be just that for the Yankees again.