Game 133: Gerrit Cole Rules

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Gerrit Cole put an end to the Yankees’ losing streak in spectacular fashion, to say the least. Cole delivered a scintillating 15 strikeout performance as the Yankees topped the Angels, 4-1. Wow, what an absolute joy to watch. It’s actually remarkable that the Angels managed to scratch across a run against him in this game.

Performances like tonight are exactly why the Yankees signed Cole to a $324 million contract. He’s paid like an ace and pitches like one. As much as I want to win the division, and as unlikely as that may be because the Rays just won’t lose (except tonight!), I feel pretty darn good about Cole in a do-or-die Wild Card game. I have plenty more to say about Cole’s outing tonight, so without further ado, let’s get to the takeaways:

The Cy Young Award is Gerrit Cole’s to lose. Tonight was just another reminder of why the Yankees’ ace is the best pitcher in the American League. Don’t tell me about Robbie Ray or Lance Lynn. I know they’ve been great. But they aren’t Gerrit Cole.

Cole absolutely dominated the Angels in this game. He struck out fifteen batters over seven innings, which was just one shy of his single-game best. Everything was working for him, though I want to highlight how ridiculously dominant his fastball — his patented F you fastball — was today.

He dared the Angels to hit his fastball all night, but lol nope. They didn’t stand a chance. Some stats on his blazing four-seamer:

  • 0-for-12 and 8 strikeouts to end an at-bat
  • 4 balls in play, max exit velocity of 83.2 MPH, average 75.9 MPH
  • 18 whiffs on 35 swings (51%)
  • 42% CSW
  • 100.5 MPH max pitch velocity
  • 98.1 MPH average pitch velocity (up 0.5 MPH from his season average)

What’s more: Cole struck out Shohei Ohtani three times and blew him away with fastballs in each at-bat. Impressive stuff.

What a night, and we haven’t even gotten to his other pitches yet.

The Angels swung-and-missed on 14 of 25 swings (56%) against non-four-seam fastballs. Two of those whiffs came on sinkers, which on second thought, probably were misclassified four-seamers.

The only pitch type that the Angels came remotely close to doing anything with was his slider. Jared Walsh (who else?) hit a 107.4 MPH double in the second inning. And in the seventh, David Fletcher delivered a 99.3 MPH double to drive in the lone run against Cole all night. Every other batted ball tonight — every single one — had an exit velocity no higher than 83.2 MPH. Changeup, slider, curveball, you name it. Unhittable. Again, pure dominance.

Sometimes teams run into one against Cole even when he’s dealing, but not tonight. That was as good as it gets from anyone in the sport. Give him the Cy Young Award already.

Luke Voit needs to play more. I understood why Voit sat a couple of games in Atlanta, even if I didn’t love it. Obviously, Anthony Rizzo is the better defender at first base and balances the lineup better than Voit can, but I can’t help but wonder if those days inadvertently cooled off Voit.

Voit didn’t even start the first game of the Oakland series, and wouldn’t you know: he did go into a mini-slump. Entering tonight, Voit was 2-for-14 since the start of the Atlanta series, with five of 17 plate appearances as a pinch hitter. So tonight, his first time in the starting lineup since August 29th, Voit goes 2-for-3 with a couple of RBIs.

Last season’s American League home run leader entered tonight’s game with a 149 wRC+ since returning from the injured list. That’s not someone who should be sitting in American League ballparks. Here and there, sure. But to not start the first two games of this series? Strange, to say the least. At least he rewarded the team with a good game tonight.

Joey Gallo could use a reset. There’s a day off for travel tomorrow, but it might make sense to sit Gallo for a game against Baltimore (that’s one way to get Voit in the lineup, by the way). Gallo’s 4-for-46 since the Boston series (.087) with 20 strikeouts and one home run. He’s walked 12 times and contributed defensively during that span, but oof, things are rough.

Here’s how the Angels pitched Gallo tonight:

On one hand, that’s some pretty great execution by the Angels against Gallo. Everything, and I mean everything, was on the edges or off the plate. Kind of hard to do damage against pitches in those locations. But at the same time, it’s also hard to go 4-for-46.

I previously mentioned that Gallo was seeing a lot more pitches on the edge, and tonight was no different. Now, the focus of that article was more about him struggling to hit fastballs, but that wasn’t totally the issue tonight. Gallo grounded out against a changeup and slider tonight while popping out against a fastball and sinker.

All told, a breather might do Gallo some good. Batting average isn’t particularly important for him, but hitting below .100 is another story. That, along with little power of late, isn’t doing much for the Yanks in the heart of the order right now.

Leftovers

  • Tonight was just a day off for Giancarlo Stanton.
  • Injury news: Gio Urshela will get an MRI on his hand tomorrow. Ugh. He just got back. Hopefully it’s nothing serious, but that’s why he didn’t play tonight.
  • Jonathan Loaisiga needed just six pitches to toss a 1-2-3 eighth inning. Aroldis Chapman picked up the save with a clean ninth, also 1-2-3 including a strikeout.
  • Ho hum, another big night for Aaron Judge. He hit a solo homer in the eighth, his 30th of the season.

Tomorrow: an off-day before three games at home against Baltimore. Have a great night, everyone.

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3 Comments

  1. dasit

    kudos to cashman for improving the line-up and bullpen at the deadline, but this season was always going to live or die with the non-cole starters

  2. John Hanna

    I can’t say I share the “ho hum” sentiment regarding Judge’s 30th HR. Due to much missed playing time, it’s his first time hitting 30 since his rookie year. Aaron Judge is the heart and soul of the Yankees and the face of the franchise. The Yankees are much better and more enjoyable when he’s in the lineup and producing. And I don’t at all take either of those things for granted.

    By the way, Judge is now 3rd in the AL in OPS behind Guerrero and Ohtani. He’s also 3rd among position players in bWAR. Interestingly, that puts him behind 2 different players – Correa and Semien. Ohtani is of course first overall in bWAR.

  3. Anthony Rizzeddardo

    It was the best win of the season, Derek, and boy did we need it. Cole put the club on his back and willed us to victory like an ace is supposed to do. I think it’s safe to say that Cole has reclaimed that ace label from Nestor and that Cole will start for us in the WC game. He must have found another sticky substance that is not detectable by the umps and I don’t think we wanna know what it is. Now they just need to get the other starters in line. Get Gil back up here and in the rotation.

    Voit does need to be playing every day, Derek. The one I’d sit is Gallo. He’s done nothing for months. I think he was hitting .220 when we traded for him and now he’ll be under .200 soon. But he walks once a game so we’re told he’s a valuable asset. Boone never gives Gallo a day off and Thames does nothing to work on his swing. Hopefully Stanton’s day off yesterday means he’ll be playing the outfield more this month.

    Six games vs the hapless O’s, 3 vs the pathetic Mets, 3 vs the awful Rangers, 1 vs the Twins who haven’t won a game vs the Yankees in 20 years. We should be able to clean up and put the #1 WC away. I don’t think we’ll catch the Rays but all we can do is beat these peons and the rest will take care of itself.

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