The Yankees officially introduced just-signed right-handed ace Gerrit Cole on Wednesday. The club agreed last week to ink the former Pirate and Astro to a history-making nine-year, $324MM deal that ranks No. 1 all-time among pitchers in both length and contract value. Led by general manager Brian Cashman, the Yankees pursued Cole on multiple occasions in the past, but they finally reeled him in 11 years after drafting (and failing to sign) the flamethrower in 2008. Now, the Yankees’ hope is that Cole will help deliver the franchise its first World Series title since 2009 next season and serve a key role in another Bronx dynasty.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Wednesday (via Dan Federico of Bronx to Bushville) that the team landed “arguably the game’s best pitcher” in the 29-year-old Cole. There’s certainly a case that Boone is correct, especially considering Cole struck out 326 batters and recorded a stingy 2.50 ERA/2.64 FIP across 212 1/3 innings last season. At the same time, though, there are a few other starters who could hold the honor over Cole.
There may not be a stronger candidate than another New York hurler, Mets righty Jacob deGrom, who has won the past two NL Cy Young Awards. The 31-year-old owns an eye-popping 2.62 ERA/2.78 FIP with 10.25 K/9 against 2.17 BB/9 since he debuted in 2014. Fellow 2019 Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, Cole’s teammate in Houston each of the previous two seasons, has a case as well. So does the Nationals’ Max Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young recipient who turned in another fantastic (but injury-limited) showing this year.
Of course, beyond Cole, deGrom, Verlander and Scherzer, there are plenty of other outstanding starters you may prefer. At this point, though, it seems difficult to go outside that group to choose the preeminent starter in baseball. So, who’s your pick?
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