The Pirates have activated righty Gerrit Cole to take the ball tonight, per a team announcement. That certainly represents the best case scenario for the staff ace, who hit the shelf about two weeks ago.
Unfortunately, the tide has turned quite a bit in the mean time. Pittsburgh sat just a half game out of Wild Card position when Cole went on the DL, but is now buried a full six games out of the postseason picture.
Even if the playoffs are no longer particularly realistic, there’s still plenty for Cole to pitch for. The righty, who turned 26 during his DL stint, is filling out a stat sheet before his first trip through arbitration this winter.
The 2016 hasn’t been as productive as the one before it, though Cole still carries a 3.55 ERA. From an arb perspective, his 114 frames to date will limit his earnings. Of greater concern from an on-field perspective is the decline in Cole’s strikeout ability (from about 10% swinging strike rate to 8.4%). Cole has received mixed reviews from ERA estimators, with a 3.16 FIP but only a 3.94 xFIP and 4.16 SIERA.