In less than three hours, Astros ace Gerrit Cole will take the field at Yankee Stadium in the hopes of securing his team a 2-1 lead over New York in the ALCS. Judging from quotes made to Scott Miller of Bleacher Report, his teammates are likely to be feeling mighty confident when Cole toes the rubber. “When you have Gerrit Cole on the mound, we win,” Houston manager AJ Hinch told Miller. “We have. We’ve kind of proven that.” Not wrong. Cole, 29, hasn’t lost a decision since May 22 (a date which preceded the Stanley Cup Finals, for reference) and is coming off a Divisional Series performance that saw him strike out 25 of the 54 Rays batters he faced. His success has been so tremendous that even his fellow Astros have begun to muse on just how much money the UCLA product might be in line to receive in free agency this winter. “I think everybody’s looking at that across baseball,” said outfielder Josh Reddick. “Harper money? Machado money? It’s going to be interesting.”
As Fangraphs’ Jay Jaffe points out, only four hurlers–Rick Sutcliffe, Mark Davis, Greg Maddux, and Roger Clemens–have earned a Cy Young award in the season preceding their free agency. Cole is widely expected to become the fifth.
- The Blue Jays may be headed for brighter days next year, now that youngsters like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio, and Bo Bichette have arrived on the scene. Could veteran–and franchise icon–Edwin Encarnacion be a steadying presence for that young nucleus in 2020? Kaitlyn McGrath of The Athletic takes a long look at Encarnacion’s fit as a potential Toronto addition, opining that the hulking slugger could be a more-than-viable replacement for the likely-to-depart Justin Smoak. Encarnacion’s steady power (104 home runs since 2017) and on-base skills (13.0% walk rate in same time frame) would certainly help boost Toronto’s young lineup, although, as McGrath notes, GM Ross Atkins previously said the club might prioritize a first base addition that “can play other positions as well“. Encarnacion, who will be 37 at the start of spring training, has a $20MM club option with New York for 2020, although he figures to have his $5MM buyout exercised.