Mike Lupica: It’s time for Gerrit Cole to start pitching like an ace

The Yankees paid Gerrit Cole $324 million to be one of Those Guys. Only he’s not, at least not so far.

Cole is a big guy and obviously has a big arm. He has shown flashes when he does make you recall Buck Showalter’s definition of an ace: “You know one when you see one.” But how often do you really feel that way when you see Cole, who has already had five starts this year when he gave up five runs, and another game in Detroit one cold night when he didn’t make it out of the second inning?

It’s not all Cole’s fault that he hasn’t been the kind of stud game-changer that his old teammate in Houston, Justin Verlander, continues to be. Cole showed a lot of heart and stuff and arm the night the Yankees lost Game 5 to the Rays in 2020, at the end of that short season. But when Cole was once again asked to win the kind of game he was hired to win, against the Red Sox in the Wild Card game last October at Fenway, he didn’t make it out of the third inning.

To be sure, nobody is writing him off, that would be nuts. He is going to be around, for a very long time. But off what we have seen so far, he is not the Yankee ace CC Sabathia was back in 2009, the last time the Yankees won it all. He is not the Game 6 that Verlander pitched against the Yankees in the American League Championship Series of 2017.

There are going to be other chances for Cole this October, because the Yankees, despite looking as wobbly as they have over the past 30 games — it’s a lot — are going to win the AL East. So when Cole gets the ball in his first postseason start this time, he’s going to get it at the Stadium.

But let’s say it is him against Verlander with all the money on the table in another Astros-Yankees ALCS showdown. Who would you put your money on?

You already know the answer to that one.

You know who Cole has been so far in pinstripes? He’s been a better Masahiro Tanaka, whom the Yankees once paid half the money they paid Cole, but was brought to the Stadium to be exactly that kind of game-changer.

This week the Yankees had a chance to win a series against the Mariners, a team they might have to face in the postseason, and whose own Game 1 playoff starter will be Luis Castillo, whom the Yankees coveted, and mightily, at the trade deadline (and why did they? Because Brian Cashman, and stop me if you’ve heard this one before, doesn’t think he has enough starting pitching). Cole got the ball. It was 6-0, Seattle, after the top of the first. It was the second time this season that Cole has given up three home runs in an inning.

“There were bad pitch selections,” …read more

Source:: The Denver Post – Sports


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