Earlier in the week, Astros pitcher Gerrit Cole was the subject of public discussion when owner Jim Crane made comments regarding the team’s projected inability to re-sign the starter this offseason. On Saturday evening, Cole made a statement all his own.
While it would be advantageous for a site with the phrase “trade rumors” in its header to find a transactional tilt to every story, the lead-in to tonight’s closing post is mainly a breathless tribute to the individual performance submitted by Cole in tonight’s 3-1 win over the Rays. As noted by several reporters, the right-hander’s performance in Game 2 of the ALDS was historic on several levels: with 15 strikeouts across 7.2 innings, Cole became just the 7th pitcher to record 15-or-more K’s in a postseason game; Tampa offered 33 swings and misses on Cole offerings–the most in a postseason game in the pitch-tracking era; and in recording multiple career postseason games with more than 12 strikeouts, Cole joined an elite list that includes only himself, Bob Gibson, Jim Palmer, and Tom Seaver.
The 29-year-old former Bruin will enter the offseason as the top starting option on the open market; judging in part from early postseason results, his representatives at Boras Corp should have no trouble this winter in securing Cole a contract guarantee with a healthy amount of zeroes attached to its end.
More from around the AL circuit…
- The postseason odyssey of one Brett Gardner was profiled in a piece from Joel Sherman of the New York Post today, with Sherman describing the outfielder’s rise from a scrappy pinch runner on the 2009 Yankees championship team to the club’s #3 hitter in tonight’s lineup against the Twins (link). Like Cole, Gardner will be a free agent in about a month’s time, as he plays out the end of a one-year/$7.5MM contract signed last offseason. It would be difficult, at this point, to imagine Gardner in anything other than pinstripes, but the Yanks will nonetheless have an interesting decision re: Gardner this winter. Aaron Hicks will, hopefully, have a healthier season in 2020, while outfielder Clint Frazier looms as a cheaper, organizational option for GM Brian Cashman at the corners–although Frazier would admittedly have a hard time replicating Gardner’s excellent baserunning (70.9 career BSR) or defensive skills (+5 DRS in 2019).
- Given the number of open managerial seats around the game, this month has seen a fair share of debate surrounding what, exactly, a manager should be expected to offer in today’s analytically inclined climate. Manager of the Year candidate and Yankees skipper Aaron Boone, for one, might consider submitting “clairvoyance” as one qualification that every managerial candidate should be in possession of, as his own pre-game forecast directly presaged a historic home run for the previously slump-ridden shortstop Didi Gregorius. Before Gregorius launched a game-breaking, third-inning grand slam deep into the seats in tonight’s 8-2 victory over the Twins, Boone was resolute that a breakout for the Dutchman was just around the corner.
“I still maintain that the best is yet to come from Didi,” Boone told James Wagner of The New York Times (link). “Sometimes it just takes one at-bat, one swing to kind of turn it, and I believe that’s what’s in there for Didi still.” Boone was speaking, of course, of the shortstop’s season-long stagnation at the plate, which included Gregorius’ worst postings since coming to the Bronx in 2015 (84 wRC+ this season). After the beginning of his season was delayed until June, Gregorius saw his numbers trend downward through the summer, culminating in a September output that included a .190 batting average. While the pending free agent is unlikely to command an eye-popping contract this offseason (in part due to his 2019 injury troubles), a healthy and productive postseason wouldn’t, at the least, hurt the 29-year-old’s chances of securing a multi-year guarantee. Not that his fellow free-market shortstops will offer stiff competition toward that goal: among a group that may include Freddy Galvis, Adeiny Hechavarria, and Jose Iglesias, Gregorius may represent the most appealing upgrade for clubs in need of SS help this winter.