Cole never admitted to using sticky substances, but when asked about the matter, provided a vague answer.
Gerrit Cole confirmed dumber than he looks. Wow. What an absolute abomination of an answer to that question. Now accepting apologies from all Yankee fans who attacked my credibility when I said he was using sticky stuff. pic.twitter.com/2zNeov0jx2
— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) June 8, 2021
And the numbers hardly lie: since the start of the season until the start of MLB’s crackdown of foreign substances, Cole was rocking a 2.31 ERA with 11.74 strikeouts per nine innings and only 1.20 walks per nine.
After the crackdown started, Cole hit a bump, a bit of an adjustment period that had us all wondering whether he could be the same pitcher.
From June 22 to July 29, a span of seven starts, Cole’s ERA was 4.87, and while he struck out 13.06 hitters per nine, his walks increased, as he gave bases on balls to 3.54 hitters per nine frames.
But Cole once said that sticky stuff is not the only thing that makes a pitcher good, and he adapted.
He found a way to succeed, and is now back to his dominating ways.
After an ugly seven-run start on July 29, the Yankees ace has a 2.87 ERA, with 14.51 punchouts per nine and 2.53 walks per nine.
Over a span of 53.1 innings, he has struck out 86 hitters.
He is back doing what he does best: toy with MLB hitters.
As of right now, Cole’s full season numbers look like this: 2.73 ERA, 2.53 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching, a career-best), 12.48 strikeouts per nine, and 1.86 walks per nine.
He has been simply dominant, the heart and soul of a Yankees rotation that clearly depends on him to have some sort of success in October, should they qualify.
After a bit of an adjustment period post-crackdown of foreign substances, Cole is finally reaching unstoppable levels with the Yankees after a good, but not great 2020 season.
The AL Cy Young Favorite
There are several great pitchers in the American League.
But none of them, or any other pitcher in the junior circuit, has been as good as Cole in 2021.
As a result, Cole is currently the heavy favorite to win the AL Cy Young award for the first time in his career.
Gerrit Cole leads the AL in wins, strikeouts, complete games, WHIP, is essentially tied for first in opponent batting average, and is second in ERA by a hair at the moment. He should win the AL Cy Young.
— Yankee & Giant Report (@yankeestiktok) September 3, 2021
Cole leads the AL in Wins Above Replacement, or WAR, with 5.2.
Nate Eovaldi has the second-best mark of the league, with 4.6, while Rodon and Dylan Cease of the White Sox are third and fourth, with 4.3 and 3.5.
Ray has a 3.4 mark and Lynn is at 3.3, all of these according to FanGraphs (Baseball Reference has a different version of WAR).
If you like a more traditional approach, Cole is leading the AL in wins (14), WHIP (0.97), hits per nine innings (6.85), complete games (two), strikeouts (215) and is third in ERA (2.73).
He has been, very clearly, the best starting pitcher in the AL this season and, with a good September, can wrap up his first Cy Young.
Not too shabby.