Assuming the Yankees make it to Tuesday without a total collapse, Gerrit Cole is not at the top of his game, which is a reason for edginess.
The Yankees are not paying Gerrit Cole $36 million to not pitch in the most significant and deciding game of their 2021 season.
Assuming the Yankees manage to win one of the following two against Tampa Bay and Boston loses one of two in Washington, the Yankees will enjoy home-field advantage next Tuesday in the one-game Wild Card shootout.
While still alive, Seattle and Toronto lurk in the background and pose minor threats with a mere two games remaining in the regular season.
A tie between the Red Sox and Yankees necessitates the need to pitch Cole in the one-game playoff on Monday, meaning Corey Kluber would get the start on Tuesday on complete rest.
Yankees: Cole A Cause For Edginess
In either case, Gerrit Cole is not at the top of his game, and unless the Yankees put a ton of runs on the board, their season could be over in a New York minute.
A seasoned Yankees fan doesn’t need the stats to prove that something is “off” with Cole in his recent starts. It’s visible to the naked eye as slider after slider dives into oblivion to right-handed batters, allowing them to sit on his fastball and driving it at will to all parts of the field.
But to drive the point home, Cole is 2-2 over his last five starts totaling 56.1 innings. His ERA is an inexplicable 6.11 over that span, and batters are hitting .311 off his servings. Worse, Cole has surrendered five home runs, and none of them have been fly balls hit just over the fence.
These are not stats usually associated with a serious contender for the 2021 Cy Young Award, but it is what we have from a pitcher who has logged 181.1 innings this year and may simply be out of gas following last year’s aborted season.
Aaron Boone’s Forced Hand
It’s water over the bridge now, but if the Yankees had won last night, it’s not beyond the realm of belief that Aaron Boone would be holding Jordan Montgomery, the Yankees best and most consistent pitcher down the stretch, back from his start today, in favor of pitching him Monday or Tuesday instead of Gerrit Cole.
After much thought, however, Boone will have slid back to Cole, if only to avoid the mountain of second-guessing that would haunt him until the day he is dismissed by the Yankees.
To his credit, Gerrit Cole is known to be a pitcher’s pitcher, capable of altering his game plan from batter to batter and pitch to pitch.
But to do that, he needs to have at least two of his pitches working, a feat he hasn’t enjoyed recently, which has cost him and the team dearly.
Coupled with Cole’s instability is a recurrence of injuries to key position players that is forcing Boone to re-arrange his lineup on the fly.
From the dislocated pinkie on the hand of Aaron Judge to DJ LeMahieu‘s sore hip to the placement of Luke Voit on the 10-day IL (again!), and on to Jameson Taillon‘s iffy ankle, the Yankees are a banged-up team at the most inopportune time.
Except for Voit, all three are expected to play the season out, and Taillon even looks suitable for his regular start on Sunday.
Even so, there is not a team in the league without players who are playing through injuries and breathing their last gasps of air during the final days of a six-month season.
The one shining star on the Yankees team is the incredible performance up and down their bullpen. Jonathan Loaisiga is back, and he is joined by the consistent arms of Chad Green and Clay Holmes, plus the team’s newest secret weapon, Luis Severino.
They’ve Got The Whole World In Their Hands.
As fate would have it in the most exciting Yankees season in memory, it’s on them to win it outright, and against a Tampa Bay team that is shooting for a franchise-record 101 wins this year.
Unlike the Orioles, who now face the Blue Jays after giving the Red Sox more than they could handle, the Yankees face the team they will compete against in the AL East Division playoff series.
Boston’s opponent, the Washington Nationals, were listless in last night’s loss to the Red Sox, and more of the same can be expected today and tomorrow.
It wouldn’t be worth anything if it came easy, and if nothing else, the Yankees will not walk into the playoffs – they’ll need to win it outright and convincingly.
See The Follow Up Article just published
Here’s What Readers Are Saying…
Sher Heide He hasn’t been the same since he had Covid…concerning.
Collier Smith You are not the only one concerned about Cole. Of late he has not looked all that good. The Yankees signed him to shut down the best teams in the American League but this year it’s not happening.
Steven Rosario Did somebody order the total collapse with cheese?
Richard Zawacki The best we have right now so gotta trust
Gregory Sullivan Well Steve I was called Immature and embarrassing by the moderator on this site for calling Cole an Ace and saying he was on a team of cheaters .. yes in 2018 when he went 20-5 they were still doing it. . The Yankees are 16-14 in games he’s started. I’m an old man. Ford was an Ace .. Guidry was an Ace. Amazing how he and Verlander went to Houston and gained 6-7 MPH on their fastballs. Verlander at his age was done in Detroit and magically he’s throwing 99 in Houston into the 8th 9th inning. I guess it’s just a coincidence. See criticizing Cole and that contract isn’t allowed. A worthwhile read.
Richard W Brown Everybody has a bad game, or they would be undefeated. He will be back!