Having spent the previous two seasons with the Astros, Gerrit Cole knows what a good team looks like.
On Sunday afternoon, the Yankees ace was asked his impression of the club he signed with as a free agent and has made two successful starts for.
Cole response was three letters long: “Wow.”
Based on the Yankees winning seven of the first eight games of a 60-game season thanks to his right arm, the muscles belonging to Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gio Urshela, and a solid bullpen that hasn’t welcomed All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman back from COVID-19, Cole could have stopped with those three letters.
Cole drooled about the strengths of the Yankees, whose 7-1 ledger after Sunday night’s win against the reeling Red Sox is tops in baseball.
“The power is there. The communication through the lineup is there. The defense is crisp and guys are bringing it every night especially with a lot of unknowns and a lot of uncertainties,” Cole said on a Zoom call from Yankee Stadium, where the Yankees swept a three-game series from the wounded Red Sox. “We have certainly started off on the right foot. Very impressive so far.”
Cole opens a four-game stretch against the Phillies on Monday night. It is a team that hasn’t played since July 26, when they hosted the COVID-19 infected Marlins in Philadelphia. Seeing Cole after seven days of no games isn’t what any hitter would be looking forward to.
In two starts, Cole is 2-0 with a 3.09 ERA, has whiffed a dozen in 11 ²/₃ innings and allowed five hits. He will take the Yankee Stadium mound for the first time with the team he grew up rooting for in Southern California and riding a career-best 18-game winning streak that was born on May 27 last year. It is the sixth-longest winning streak in baseball history.
“Obviously it went well for us,” Cole said of the Yankees beating the defending World Series Nationals in a rain-shortened Opening Day game in Washington and the Orioles this past Thursday in Baltimore. “Saw some improvement from the first game to the second. I thought we managed what we had well.”
Stanton was introduced to Cole in the National League when Cole pitched for the Pirates and Stanton was a Marlin. Three hits (one homer) in 10 at-bats against Cole’s filthy stuff qualifies as well above average.
“Awesome, standard. I always talked to him across the way throughout the years and just followed suit being a teammate, watching him work and compete,” Stanton said of Cole. “Bring that fire to the mound and making guys look foolish up there. It’s fun to watch.”
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Whenever possible, Aaron Boone and pitching coach Matt Blake are going to use Cole on four days’ rest. If that means juggling the other starters so be it; nine years, $324 million and Cole’s talent trumps everything else.
“Every time Gerrit Cole is getting ready to pitch I am excited whether it is pinstripes or he has the grays on,” Boone said. “The fact that he is on our team that is usually an exciting day, knowing I get to write his name on the lineup card, knowing what he can potentially bring for us. I know it will be a big deal for him putting on the pinstripes for the first time in a real game. Then again I am excited every time he goes to the mound for us.”