Gerrit Cole: Ace Is The Place

jon abbey

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I am willing to listen to suggestions for a better title, the current one is an homage to both the great Sun Ra and an old hardware commercial.

Anyway, we need a thread for the best NY SP since probably 1978 Ron Guidry, and maybe the best ever.

With Cole scheduled for his second start of the season tomorrow in NY's 4th game, I wanted to check what a SP could potentially do to lead his team to a title in a two month season, the upper limit, so my first thought was to look up Orel Hershiser 1988 down the stretch.

August 19-Sept 28: 9 starts for an almost unbelievable 82 innings (9 in the first 8 and then 10), 0.44 ERA, including six straight shutouts to close the regular season.
October 4-20: 5 more starts in the postseason plus a crucial one out relief appearance the day after he had gone seven innings in the NLCS, a 1.05 ERA in 42.2 more innings.

124 innings, 14 starts, 10 complete game shutouts, and just 9 ERs total allowed in the others. It seems ridiculous to preemptively put that into a Cole thread as it seems like the outer limit of human perfomance and there's a reason it was the first one I thought of, but on the other hand Orel already had 180 innings on his arm that season when he started this (making it that much more amazing) and Cole had 373 Ks combined in regular and postseason last year and did not lose a start between May and game 1 of the WS, and now he has had a few extra months to rest his arm and he is extra hungry for a title after being left in the pen in game 7, so close. Also Orel did this in two months ending in a ring, Cole would have three months for there to be a similar ending, so he can pace himself a bit more to get to those totals.

Something for our new leader to shoot for anyway... :)
 

LogansDad

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I hope his arm falls off, and his luxurious hair, of which I am so jealous, starts falling out. YMMV, though.

I think he has the potential to be absolutely incredible for you guys this year, though.
 

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Looked up on Stathead best ERA during games 102-162 to properly account for weather while exclusively being a starter. If Cole somehow goes 12 starts, as the absolute upper limit, Tiant has the best stretch over this period of time at 1.05 to finish off 1972.

They wouldn’t let me check player profiles who had under 12 starts for my query unfortunately, or I’d check the 7-10 range a lot more since that’s a bit more realistic, if (big if, granted) the season completes.

Javier Vazquez’s 2011 is at two, interestingly enough.
 

cromulence

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I'm sorry - old hardware commercial? You haven't seen any ads recently with that annoying yet catchy jingle? You must not watch TV.
 

jon abbey

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Heh, I watch plenty of TV but I have always tried to either skip or mute commercials.
 

jon abbey

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Cole never looked fully locked in today but after allowing a walk and an RBI double in the first, he retired 19 of the next 20 before tiring around 100 pitches.

MLB Longest Winning Streaks (regular season only)

24 Carl Hubbell (1936-37 NYG)
22 Roy Face (1958-59 PIT)
20 Rube Marquard (1911-12 NYG)
20 Roger Clemens (1998 TOR-1999 NYY)
20 Jake Arrieta (2015-16 CHC)
* 18 Gerrit Cole (2019 HOU-2020 NYY)

4 of those 6 lost postseason games mid-streak, including Cole in the World Series last year.
 
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jon abbey

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Somehow we all take Cole’s ongoing greatness for granted so this thread hasn’t been bumped in 3+ years, but he just won his first Cy Young, and it was unanimous. Congrats Cy Cole!!
 

Jace II

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Somehow we all take Cole’s ongoing greatness for granted so this thread hasn’t been bumped in 3+ years, but he just won his first Cy Young, and it was unanimous. Congrats Cy Cole!!
5 top five Cy Young finishes in the last 6 years is fine
 

jon abbey

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Would the Yankees really consider two such contracts for starting pitchers, though?
Yes? Cole’s is ‘down’ to 5/180 now at least.

NYY should be able to fill a lot of roster spots cheaply but also I think it’s possible they may just go full Steve Cohen if they can get the guys they want, and just live with the financial and other penalties.
 

JM3

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Cole's 9/324 looks pretty good four years in.
It's weird... it seems like it's going well, but using Fangraphs values it's probably not.

2020 - $30.2m (I took the $11.2 they said & prorated it for 162 games instead of 60)
2021 - $41.5m
2022 - $26.1m
2023 - $41.8m

Total - $139.6m ($34.9m/year)

& his contract is $36.1m/year. So he would actually have to pitch better in his age 33-37 seasons than he did in his age 29-32 seasons to be worth the full amount.

In his 2 years before joining the Yankees, Cole had a value of $107m ($53.5m/year), which is why he got the contract he did.

As Semper mentioned, it's that ability to get those 25 to 30 years that makes Yamamoto unique.
 

BigSoxFan

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It's weird... it seems like it's going well, but using Fangraphs values it's probably not.

2020 - $30.2m (I took the $11.2 they said & prorated it for 162 games instead of 60)
2021 - $41.5m
2022 - $26.1m
2023 - $41.8m

Total - $139.6m ($34.9m/year)

& his contract is $36.1m/year. So he would actually have to pitch better in his age 33-37 seasons than he did in his age 29-32 seasons to be worth the full amount.

In his 2 years before joining the Yankees, Cole had a value of $107m ($53.5m/year), which is why he got the contract he did.

As Semper mentioned, it's that ability to get those 25 to 30 years that makes Yamamoto unique.
If the first 4 years are a combined $5-6M short of value per FanGraphs, then I would argue the contract is going quite well given the history of FA SP deals. If Cole ends up with “only” $270M of value against a $324M price tag, I doubt the Yankees would care very much. The difference wouldn’t be material to their operation.
 

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If the first 4 years are a combined $5-6M short of value per FanGraphs, then I would argue the contract is going quite well given the history of FA SP deals. If Cole ends up with “only” $270M of value against a $324M price tag, I doubt the Yankees would care very much. The difference wouldn’t be material to their operation.
Yeah had the same reaction. If a guy is giving you 35m worth of value and that’s roughly what you’re paying him, that’s a huge W.
 

JM3

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Pedro was 26 when the Sox acquired him. A 12 year deal would have taken him through the rest of his career; so about four lousy years at the end. 10-12 years seems like what he’ll get (with the inevitable opt out), hard to feel real comfortable with more than 8 (especially for a guy who isn’t built like a Cole, Scherzer, or Verlander) but someone will.

Beckett is another, acquired at 26 by the Sox. Had about 5-6 good years after that.

There aren’t a ton of free agent pitchers the age of Yamamoto, but guys his age tend to be available fairly frequently via trade, no? Hell, Cole, Scherzer, and Snell were all traded in their mid 20’s too.
Fangraphs doesn't have the value stuff prior to 2002, but Pedro had 59.1 fWAR during the period from 26 to 37, so he probably would have earned his contract.

I wouldn't do both an opt out & a ton of years. & I really don't think an opt out is inevitable. Most of the largest contracts don't have them, they're now likely to have NTCs.

Considering $25m/year is about 9% of what our budget should be this year ($277m), & an even smaller percentage in future years, I can't get too upset if the last few years we aren't getting value out of 6 or 7% of our budget or whatever it is.
 

JM3

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If the first 4 years are a combined $5-6M short of value per FanGraphs, then I would argue the contract is going quite well given the history of FA SP deals. If Cole ends up with “only” $270M of value against a $324M price tag, I doubt the Yankees would care very much. The difference wouldn’t be material to their operation.
The idea of these long contracts is that you get surplus value early to make up for the fact that you expect to not get value later on. Obviously if he pitches just as well the next 5 years as he has he previous 4, it will be completely fine, but that's just not how aging usually works.
 

jon abbey

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The idea of these long contracts is that you get surplus value early to make up for the fact that you expect to not get value later on. Obviously if he pitches just as well the next 5 years as he has he previous 4, it will be completely fine, but that's just not how aging usually works.
Not to divert this thread even more, but to me the concept of $/WAR never made any sense to me in a system where you can just add another cheap pre-arb guy to fill another roster spot. If everyone was paid like FAs, then it would make sense, but as it is, to me it's always been pointless to even look at. NY was never going for 'value' with Cole, they were going for ace-level performance and they've mostly gotten it so far.
 

JM3

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Not to divert this thread even more, but to me the concept of $/WAR never made any sense to me in a system where you can just add another cheap pre-arb guy to fill another roster spot. If everyone was paid like FAs, then it would make sense, but as it is, to me it's always been pointless to even look at. NY was never going for 'value' with Cole, they were going for ace-level performance and they've mostly gotten it so far.
Well, if you had to pay FA rates for all WAR, good teams would cost like $800m, but that's all fair.

My point wasn't even that it was a bad contract, though. Just that it wasn't going as well as I would have expected, & I think that's because he's been mostly excellent instead of preposterously excellent like he was the 2 years before.

But yeah, tying the 2 together, Cole has 31.8 fWAR (34.2 if you normalize the COVID year) from his age 26 season through his age 32 season, so if his Yankees contract works out well enough, his 12-year contract would be doing quite well.
 

jon abbey

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My point wasn't even that it was a bad contract, though. Just that it wasn't going as well as I would have expected, & I think that's because he's been mostly excellent instead of preposterously excellent like he was the 2 years before.
He gave up a ton of HRs in 2022, but he seems to have figured that out and fixed it now.
 

JM3

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He gave up a ton of HRs in 2022, but he seems to have figured that out and fixed it now.
Cole stuff in spoiler to avoid further derail...

Eh... the metrics would say that he pitched about the same in '22 & '23, but just got significantly luckier in '23 than he did in '22, putting up his lowest hr/fb rate since 2016, causing him to allow less homers despite striking out less hitters & allowing a higher % of fly balls.

His xFIP this past year (3.60) was his highest since 2017 & much higher than his 2.77 in '22. His xERA also increased from 3.31 to 3.48.

The statcast data said that he was getting a lot less whiffs this year, & while the avg exit velocity was very similar, the barrel % & hard hit % were lower.

So I guess we'll see next year if he regresses or whether he's moved on to a new, craftier stage of his career.

But yeah, it's a massive gamble paying a ton of money for a guy who's never done it in MLB before. But it will be fun to watch & I'll probably be happy if the Red Sox are the ones to do it.
 

jon abbey

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Moving some posts from the Yamamoto thread...

Eh... the metrics would say that he pitched about the same in '22 & '23 but just got significantly luckier in '23 than he did in '22, putting up his lowest hr/fb rate since 2016, causing him to allow less homers despite striking out less hitters & allowing a higher % of fly balls.
Funny, you were the one who posted these Fangraphs salary earned estimates a few posts up, right?

2022 - $26.1m
2023 - $41.8m

His Ks 'dropped' from 257 in 200.2 innings to 222 in 209 innings, it seemed like he was trying to pitch to contact more often early in games in an effort to keep pitch counts down. HRs given up dropped from a league-leading 33 to 20, not sure how much luck was really involved as it all seemed like a very conscious change in approach, from a pitching genius.

Also interestingly NY's team defense was much stronger in 2022 (+129 team DRS, 1st in MLB by a whopping 43 runs) than 2023 (down to +27, 10th in MLB). He was pitching through some truly awful corner OF play, NY 29th or 30th in both LF and RF at a -14 each, so 2023 Cole had it tougher there. Good job, Jake Bauers!
 

JM3

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Moving some posts from the Yamamoto thread...



Funny, you were the one who posted these Fangraphs salary earned estimates a few posts up, right?

2022 - $26.1m
2023 - $41.8m

His Ks 'dropped' from 257 in 200.2 innings to 222 in 209 innings, it seemed like he was trying to pitch to contact more often early in games in an effort to keep pitch counts down. HRs given up dropped from a league-leading 33 to 20, not sure how much luck was really involved as it all seemed like a very conscious change in approach, from a pitching genius.

Also interestingly NY's team defense was much stronger in 2022 (+129 team DRS, 1st in MLB by a whopping 43 runs) than 2023 (down to +27, 10th in MLB). He was pitching through some truly awful corner OF play, NY 29th or 30th in both LF and RF at a -14 each, so 2023 Cole had it tougher there. Good job, Jake Bauers!
They don't base their value to the team on xFIP, as they shouldn't as it's a predictive stat & the value on any given season is based on results.

11.53 to 9.56 is a significant drop in k/9. But like I said in my post, it's quite possible he's just entered a new crafty stage of his career.

But the whole purpose of xFIP's adjustment from FIP is that hr/fb rates do not seem consistent from year-to-year.

This assumption is drawn because HR/FB rate can fluctuate a lot from year to year, with pitchers often regressing back toward the league average rate.
https://www.mlb.com/glossary/advanced-stats/expected-fielding-independent-pitching

Cole also took a small step back in xERA which factors in the actual quality of contact, as the quality of contact only decreased a little in relation to the drop in strikeouts.

Expected ERA, or xERA, is a simple 1:1 translation of Expected Weighted On-Base Average (xwOBA), converted to the ERA scale. xwOBA takes into account the amount of contact (strikeouts, walks, hit by pitch) and the quality of that contact (exit velocity and launch angle), in an attempt to credit the pitcher or hitter for the moment of contact, not for what might happen to that contact thanks to other factors like ballpark, weather, or defense.
https://www.mlb.com/glossary/statcast/expected-era

So... we'll see. Fangraphs projects Cole for a 3.71 ERA & 3.6 fWAR next year because of that likelihood of regression based on the underlying #s & the aging curve.

If I was to guess? I'd probably put him around 3.38. But I don't have to guess, & Cole doesn't need to put up a 2.63 ERA again to have another great year.
 

jon abbey

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First rehab start will be in AA on Tuesday, hopefully back in a few weeks.
 

jon abbey

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He just finished his first rehab start in AA as mentioned above, capped at 45 pitches. He went 3.1 2 0 0 0 5, presumably he'll go up around 15 pitches each time and after two more rehab starts (3rd should be on 6/14), they'll take stock and see if the one after that should be with NY or a 4th rehab start.
 

jon abbey

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Second rehab start done, also in AA, 4.2 2 1 1 0 4 on 57 pitches. They're going very slowly with him, but Poteet having a sub-2 ERA has made that a lot easier to do.
 

jon abbey

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Yeah they’ve been going slow, and Poteet has been great. I can see both options, especially since next start would be BAL. They really wanted him at 70 even tonight, he left mid-AB with a 1-1 count, that makes me think one more in AAA.