By Jason Shetler
After an impressive rookie showing in 2013, Gerrit Cole was poised to build off that success in 2014. The former UCLA standout was decent that year, but didn’t pitch a ton due to a couple of DL stints. Cole was able to stay healthy last season, and was put himself on the national map. Here are Cole’s numbers from the past couple seasons, as well as a 2016 FanGraphs projection.
2014: 3.65 ERA, 99 ERA+, 3.23 FIP, 1.21 WHIP, 2.6 BB/9, 9.0 K/9, 2.3 WAR in 22 starts
2015: 2.60 ERA, 148 ERA+, 2.66 FIP, 1.09 WHIP, 1.9 BB/9, 8.7 K/9, 5.4 WAR in 32 starts
2016 (FanGraphs): 2.89 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 2.0 BB/9, 8.9 K/9, 4.9 WAR in 32 starts
As most projected, Cole had himself a breakout season in 2015. The 2.60 ERA was fifth best in the National League while his 2.66 Fielding Independent Pitching was third best among NL starters. His dominance last year can be contributed to the fact that he not only displayed great control, but also because he threw his wipeout slider 8% more than in 2014. Cole wound up finishing fourth in the NL Cy Young voting, the highest finish for a Pirates starter since Doug Drabek in 1992.
My analysis: Entering his age 25 season, Gerrit Cole his now of the Top 10 best starting pitchers in baseball. The combination of solid command on his upper-90’s fastball along with a very outstanding slider should make him a strong Cy Young candidate again this season, barring injury.