How the Yankees are trying to fix Gerrit Cole’s alarming trend
TORONTO — Gerrit Cole has allowed 10 homers in his last six starts, an alarming number from an ace just weeks before the playoffs.
Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake said they’re trying to work through the problem and that for Cole, « the most important thing is to stay out of the damage zone. »
Blake noted that some of Cole’s pitches are « more likely to be hit out of the park. »
This includes his fastball in the area.
Of course, it was a 99 mph quad in the middle of the plate that Boston’s Alex Verdugo hit for a game-tying three-run homer in Cole’s last outing, against the Red Sox on Friday.
And that bad pitch may have, at least in part, been the result of Cole being unhappy with a call earlier in the inning.
« That’s part of it, » Blake said. « If an inning starts to pile up and doesn’t go his way, he has to compartmentalize it and focus on his throws again. »
While that sounds fundamental — especially for an ace in the middle of a nine-year, $324 million contract — Blake said it’s understandable.
« As accomplished as he is, he’s still human with the same issues other pitchers have, » Blake said. « You have to remind him to slow things down. »
Overall, Cole’s numbers aren’t bad, even when it comes to homers.
This season he’s allowed 1.5 homers per nine innings, up slightly from the 1.0 homers per nine innings he gave up in his career, but not far off where he’s been in recent seasons. .
It doesn’t allow more base runners or harder balls for the most part.
Instead, Cole appears to be dropping home runs at more inopportune times, which doesn’t bode well for the playoffs.
The recent rise is particularly inopportune. He’s allowed four earned runs in each of his last three starts and hasn’t pitched more than six innings in any of them, as his ERA dropped from 3.20 to 3.49.
In his last 20 starts, Cole has a 3.86 ERA and opponents have a .700 OPS against him after starting the season with a 2.78 ERA and .558 opposing OPS in his first 11 outings.
« The stuff is still there, » Blake said. « We just have to bring him back to him. »