Gerrit Cole was not happy when Aaron Boone lifted him in the 7th inning of a game the Yankees eventually lost. Here’s a glimpse behind the tug-o-war.
Gerrit Cole is the undisputed ace of the Yankees starting rotation. Filling a void left vacant since CC Sabathia’s knees eventually gave way, Cole came to the Yankees as the Great White Whale Brian Cashman had long been seeking to land.
By definition, a team’s ace is a workhorse. They take their turn every fifth day and rarely, if ever, do they have a terrible outing. They treat what they do as a science with a splash of art thrown in as needed. They are, in short, a player’s player.
They have four days between starts to mull over the previous one and prepare for their upcoming start. A practiced routine takes a team’s ace (finally) to the stage he lives for, and he is not about to “exit stage left” without a fight.
Gerrit Cole: Where His Tug On The Rope Comes From
Gerrit Cole has all of those attributes, and he did not hesitate to show his true grit when he saw Aaron Boone pop out of the dugout during Wednesday’s game against the Rays with the score knotted at two.
Cole would say later he knew he was done for the day as soon as Boone began his walk to the mound. But still, his mind was spinning – why (are you doing this)?
The seventh inning began harmlessly as Kevin Kiermeier grounded out to third. One retired with the eighth and ninth place hitters due up.
Mike Zunino followed with a five-pitch strikeout, looking at a 97MPH four-seamer, Cole’s 109th pitch. Two gone, and here comes Boone.
Gerrit Cole’s Pedigree
Before we move to Aaron Boone’s defense, and he has one, a review of Gerrit Cole’s thirty-three starts during the regular season last year is relevant.
According to Baseball-Reference, Gerrit Cole never threw less than 92 pitches in any of his starts. His average pitch count was 101, and there were only ten starts in which he threw less than 100 pitches.
Over five postseason starts last year; Cole went 4-1 with pitch counts in a succession of 118, 107, 112, 104, and 110.
Safe to say, Gerrit Cole is accustomed to the workload required as the ace of a team’s staff.
This may also be why after the game, a still flustered Cole told nj.com: “He made the move before he even got out there, so it didn’t really matter whatever I said to him on the mound,” Cole said. “And whatever I said to him in my glove, we’ll leave it at that.”
Gerrit Cole: Listen up – Aaron Boone Has A Point As Well
In a nutshell, Aaron Boone has three-hundred and twenty-four million reasons why he removed Gerrit Cole from that game.
Boone’s job is two-fold, and in the practical execution of his job, the Yankees come first and his players second.
To Aaron Boone’s way of thinking, removing Cole from the game after 109 pitches were his way of protecting the Yankees’ investment down the road.
It was not a lack of confidence in Cole’s ability, and Boone’s action would undoubtedly have received less attention if the Rays had not gone on to tattoo Zack Britton for two runs on their way to their fifth consecutive win against the Bombers.
If asked, unless he is out of options (Britton was perfect in save opportunities up to this point), Aaron Boone will do the same thing again and again because from where he sits, it’s the responsible move to make.
Gerrit Cole And Aaron Boone: A Getting To Know You Experience
Still, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility we might see one of those “showdowns” in the dugout between Gerrit Cole and Boone – similar to the one we witnessed between Matt Harvey and Terry Collins in the now infamous fifth game of the 2015 World Series.
What we’ll never see, however, is any display of defiance from Cole once Boone steps out of the dugout asking for the ball. Cole is your consummate professional, as an ace must be.
For Aaron Boone, though, he has plenty to chew on from this one-time experience with his still new (to the team) player.
In a different time and place, most likely the playoffs, Boone will stick with Cole, regardless of the number of pitches under his belt in a single game.
The tug-o-war between the two is a thing of beauty to observe from a distance.
We have here a snapshot of two ultra-competitors, each with the common goal of winning, but still clashing with each other in that same spirit. From here, kudos to both Gerrit Cole and Aaron Boone.