Gerrit Freaking Cole

Stros End Rays.

Jim Rome
October 11, 2019 - 9:24 am
Gerrit Cole

USA Today

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As the kids like to say: Gerrit Cole. That’s it. That’s the take. There’s nothing else to talk about when it comes to last night’s game 5 of the ALDS between Tampa Bay and Houston.

Gerrit Cole. That’s it.

And because of Gerrit Cole, we now have the series that everyone wanted and everyone expected: Astros v. Yankees.

But we sure as hell didn’t get there in the way anyone expected. Not after Houston took a 2-0 series lead and then Tampa Bay came battling back to win Games 3 and 4.

That meant that Houston’s 107 win regular season was on the verge of looking like LA’s 106 game regular season. BUT…Houston was going back home and HOUSTON HAD Gerrit Cole was on the mound.

And Gerrit Cole is a beast. An absolute monster. If you’ve been sleeping on this guy because he started his career in Pittsburgh or because he’s behind Justin Verlander in the rotation or for any reason at all, now would be a really good time to stop. 

As one MLB front office official told 538 before the game: “He’s essentially throwing laser beams, or as close to it as I’ve ever seen from a human.”

I’d agree, I need some evidence that this is dude, is in fact human. And I think the Rays do too. 

Rays manager Kevin Cash: "The frustrating part is Gerrit Cole is on the mound on the other side and the run he's been on is second to none That presents its own challenges."

Rays shortstop Willy Adames: "I don't know if anybody can get better than that. He was unbelievable last start, and today was still the same."

That was a masterclass in pitching a must-win game. Filthy. Nasty. Overpowering. Unhittable. In-human.

There really aren’t words to describe that performance. That was incredible. He started with two strikeouts, a walk, and a groundout in the first inning.

Then the Astros bats went to work. Two singles meant Jose Altuve was up with runners on the corners, base hit. 1-0.

And then Alex Bregman chased that with a double. 3-0.

By the end of the first, it was 4-0 Astros. And yet Tampa wasn’t going anywhere. Eric Sogard led off the top of the second with a home run.

4-1 and now we’ve got a ballgame. Except we don’t. Not when Gerrit Cole is on the mound throwing laser beams.

8 innings. 10 strikeouts. 2 hits. 1 run.

Want a larger sample size? One run in 15⅔ innings with 25 strikeouts in this series.

Want an even larger sample size? He’s struck out ten or more in 11 straight starts.

Want an even larger sample size? 18-0 with 251 strikeouts and an ERA barely over 1.6. That’s what Gerrit Cole has done since May 22.

For perspective, May 22 was an off day between Games 4 and 5 of the Raptors-Bucks conference finals. A basketball season ended and is now starting again in the time that Cole has been unbeaten.

A lot has changed since May 22, but one thing that hasn’t is Gerrit Cole. Actually, he might have changed. He might have gotten better. 

Well…he did come up short in one regard. Came up short when he got the Rays to ground out and hit two fly balls in the third inning: unfortunately, that snapped a streak of 73 straight innings with a strikeout. In the expansion era, the next best streak is 40 innings by some guy named Pedro Martinez.

And yet, that was still a game. Because after the first inning, that conveyor belt of Rays pitchers wasn’t giving up anything. It was a 4-1 game and it felt like damn near a replay of the Nationals-Dodgers the night before. And the team that wouldn’t die was still hanging around and hanging around.

But Michael Brantley ended that in the bottom of the eighth with a home run.

And if he didn’t, the next batter, Jose Altuve definitely did, back to back jacks for the Stros. 

And then it was time to shut it down in the ninth and start the party.

So now we’re back to where we started from – Yankees-Astros. And if you think Houston is just going to roll through that series on the back of Verlander and Cole, I suggest you think again.

Yes, Houston won 107 games in the regular season. New York won 103. Not exactly a huge fall off. And they did it with a ton of injuries. And the Yankees are rested. And the Yankees can mash. And the Yankees have a nasty bullpen. And against Minnesota, they found ways to win with pitching and defense.

But it’s not like the Astros aren’t good. And it’s not like the Astros didn’t benefit from that series against Tampa.

Sure, the rotation isn’t lining up exactly the way they would’ve liked, but as Cole said: "We were tested and responded well. Had to get hit in the face twice. I like the way we answered the bell. Looking forward to the next series."

Ate two haymakers and they still landed the knockout blow. Now we get the fight everyone knew was coming and that everyone wanted. Let’s get it on.