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September 10, 2013

What You Need to Know

The Pirates Make it Official

by Daniel Rathman


The Monday Takeaway
Last Tuesday, Gerrit Cole helped the Pirates take the first step in their resurgence, contributing six innings of two-run ball toward a 4-3 victory that sealed at least a .500 team record. Then the Pirates lost four in a row, three of them to the first-place Cardinals. Six days after they earned that symbolic win, they were still stuck on 81.

Cole would have none of that on Monday night in Arlington, when he was asked to outduel Yu Darvish. His seven brilliant frames, authored in one of the league’s toughest venues, were one small step for the rookie pitcher, one giant leap for his franchise.

The 23-year-old Cole traded zeroes with his 27-year-old counterpart for six innings, permitting only three singles and two walks. Alex Rios and Elvis Andrus combined for three stolen bases, and Cole also uncorked a wild pitch, but on the few occasions that Rangers got into scoring position, the UCLA product stranded them there. Cole struck out nine—his best total through 16 big-league starts—including four in a row between the bottom of the fifth, when he fanned the side, and the top of the sixth, when he whiffed leadoff man Leonys Martin.

Ben Lindbergh covered the recent uptick in Cole’s strikeout rate in an Unfiltered post last week. That increase was of particular interest in Cole’s case, because the Pirates’ top prospect had developed a peculiar track record of punching out fewer batters than his electric arsenal suggested he could. To his credit, Cole was inducing plenty of ground balls and limiting his walks. But without more strikeouts, he would merely be a good starting pitcher, falling short of his ace-level promise.

Cole leaned on his high-90s gas and complemented it primarily with a sharp curveball and slider, continuing a trend of decreasing sinker usage that Ben pointed out in the afore-linked piece.

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit Lis... (09/10)
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Premium Article What You Need to Know:... (09/11)
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Premium Article The Call-Up: Christian... (09/10)

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