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Can Gerrit Cole Win The American League Cy Young Award?

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Can Gerrit Cole Win The American League Cy Young Award?
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images/AFP

The Yankees made the biggest splash of the offseason by signing ace right-hander Gerrit Cole to a nine-year, $324 million contract. Can Cole thrive in New York and win the American League Cy Young award?

Adding Cole was the Yankees’ top offseason priority and general manager Brian Cashman was able to get ownership-level approval to offer the record-setting deal. Having Cole will certainly make the Yankees one of the top choices for MLB picks.

Cole’s contract is the fifth $300 million deal ever handed out in MLB history. It is also the second-largest free agency deal in the majors. Cole is the first pitcher that will get over $300 million and now he has the all-time average value record at $36 million a year.

The Yankees made a smart move because there are no pitchers like Gerrit Cole on the free agent market for the next few years.

How Cole Can Help The Yankees

New York secured an ace in a style that long-time owner George Steinbrenner would have applauded.

Games with at least 14 strikeouts and no walks allowed:

Gerrit Cole in 2019 – 3

Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton, Tom Seaver, Sandy Koufax, & Bob Gibson careers combined – 3

The ace right-hander set an Astros record by winning his last 16 regular season decisions and he led the American League with a career-best 2.50 ERA.

Cole’s career-high 326 strikeouts were the most in the majors and set an Astros franchise record (J.R. Richard had 313 strikeouts in 1979). Gerrit Cole had only one loss since May 22 (it was in Game 1 of the World Series against the Nationals). He did have a stellar outing in Game 5 of the World Series and he went 4-1 with a 1.72 ERA in 36 2/3 innings over five postseason starts.

Gerrit Cole grew up a Yankees fan and as a child, he attended several games at the old Yankee Stadium. Cole beat the Yankees in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series, throwing seven scoreless innings of four-hit ball with seven strikeouts and before the game he said that his favorite players growing up were Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.

The 29-year-old also drew interest from the Angels and Dodgers and now he joins a starting rotation that includes James Paxton, Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka and J.A. Happ.

Cole’s Career Stats

After five seasons with the Pirates, Cole was traded to the Astros in January 2018 and in two seasons with Houston he revitalized his four-seam fastball and improved his mechanics to leave fewer pitches out of the strike zone.

Overall he went 35-10 with a 2.68 ERA and an 0.96 WHIP in 65 starts with the Astros, recording 602 strikeouts and a 12.1 WAR in 412 2/3 innings. Cole is 94-52 with a 3.22 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP, recording 1,336 strikeouts in 1,195 innings over 192 career starts. Cole’s 10.062 strikeouts per nine innings rank sixth among active players and eighth all-time.

Gerrit Cole pose for a photo at Yankee Stadium during a press conference at Yankee Stadium on December 18, 2019 in New York City. Mike Stobe/Getty Images/AFP

How Previous Free Agent Aces Fared With The Yankees

Mike Mussina was not particularly dominant with the Orioles, posting a 3.53 ERA in 2009 2/3 innings over 288 starts in 10 years but he was their ace and he also shined in New York. Mussina went 72-42 at Yankee Stadium, posting a 3.64 ERA in 863 1/3 innings in 136 career games (135 starts). The Hall of Fame right-hander handled the pressure of pitching in the Bronx and Yankees fans hope Cole can do the same.

CC Sabathia posted a 3.81 ERA in 1918 innings over 307 games (306 starts) in 11 seasons with the Yankees. The left-hander helped the Yankees win the World Series in 2009 and he posted an ERA under 3.38 in his first four seasons with the team, before knee injuries began to bother him. Sabathia was also a great leader in the clubhouse. The Yankees need Cole to follow Sabathia’s footsteps. This would improve their World Series chances.

Cole can have a good career with the Yankees. His pitch repertoire is superior to Mussina’s and Sabathia’s and he has postseason experience and durability. We might be getting a shortened season but I will make a small bet on Cole to win the American League Cy Young award at +400 MLB odds.

Odds To Won The American League Cy Young Award
(Courtesy of BetOnline)

  • Gerrit Cole +400
  • Justin Verlander +450
  • Lucas Giolito +1000
  • Shane Bieber +1000
  • Mike Clevinger +1400
  • Blake Snell +1600
  • Charlie Morto +1600
  • James Paxton +1600
  • Jose Berrios +1600
  • Tyler Glasnow +1600
  • Zack Greinke +1600
  • Corey Kluber +2500
  • Shohei Ohtani +2500
  • Frankie Montas +3300
  • Hyun-Jin Ryu +3300
  • Sean Manaea +3300
  • Carlos Carrasco +4000
  • Jake Odorizzi +4000
  • Lance Lynn +4000
  • Mike Minor +4000
  • Dallas Keuchel +5000
  • Eduardo Rodriguez +5000