Saturday, the Houston Astros acquired former All-Star pitcher Gerrit Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Should that move worry the New York Yankees?

New York Yankees

In a word, no.

That’s not to say that Gerrit Cole isn’t a good pitcher. He is. If he was trash, the New York Yankees wouldn’t have engaged Pittsburgh on multiple occasions about trading for the 27-year-old, who spurned the Yanks in the 2008 MLB Draft, choosing to attend UCLA rather than sign with the Bronx Bombers straight out of high school.

But his arrival to the Astros finds us saying “Houston, we don’t have a problem.”

As you’d expect, Cole, a righty who spent his entire five-year MLB career in the National League up to this point, has had very little exposure to the Yanks’ lineup—including the reigning NL MVP, Giancarlo Stanton.

ColevsYanks
Photo courtesy of baseball-reference.com

 

The Yankees, as a whole, hit right-handed pitching very well.

StatisticBA (MLB Rank)OBPSLGOPSHRRBIRwRC+
2017 Yanks.264 (T-4).341 (2).454 (2).795 (2)185 (3)634 (2)660 (2)110 (2)

Remember, they did that against right-handers without Stanton, who had some pretty impressive numbers against them last season as well.

StatisticBA (MLB Rank)OBPSLGOPSHRRBIRwRC+
Stanton 2017.270 (T-87).354 (58).596 (7).950 (T-13)44 (T-1)94 (4)93 (3)144 (T-16)

If you’re wondering who he was tied with for the MLB home run lead against righties, you can find the answer in right field at Yankee Stadium—Aaron Judge. Speaking of Judge, take a look at how he—and the other Yanks who qualified for the leaderboard against right-handers—fared last season.

PlayerBAOBPSLGOPSHRRBIRwRC+
Aaron Judge.298.417.6621.0794498105179
Gary Sanchez.282.343.530.874256761130
Brett Gardner.283.367.473.840195183124
Didi Gregorius.295.325.523.848227053120
Chase Headley.279.374.405.77984653111
Starlin Castro.294.327.451.778145652105

Stanton, by himself, more than makes up for the lost production from Chase Headley and Starlin Castro. Brett Gardner, Didi Gregorius and Gary Sanchez are all still around, looking to build off of their own impressive 2017 campaigns.

Speaking of impressive, we’d be remiss if we didn’t marvel at how little the Astros actually had to give up to acquire Cole, courtesy of The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal:

Feliz owns a 5.13 ERA and 1.36 WHIP over 98 career big-league relief appearances. Musgrove, with a career 4.52 ERA, 1.28 WHIP in 45 appearances (25 starts), is at best a mid-rotation arm. Moran, now heading to his third franchise in five years, looks more like a Quadruple-A player than a big-league regular. Martin projects as a fringe regular in the outfield, one who lacks the arm strength to play in the corners.

So if you were one of those people who thought the Yankees made a mistake by not giving up the likes of Miguel Andujar or Gleyber Torres to add Cole, think again.

When it comes to Andujar and Torres, the presumptive Opening Day starters at third base and second base for the Yankees, respectively, in 2018, both prospects more than held their own against right-handed pitching in 2017.

PlayerBAOBPSLGOPSHRRBI
Miguel Andujar.307.342.479.8211061
Gleyber Torres.301.405.476.880520

While most minor league pitchers aren’t on the same level as those in the big leagues—or guys like Cole—those numbers suggest, at the very least, that neither Andujar nor Torres should look completely lost against righties in the majors.

Does adding Cole make the Astros a better team? Yes. Does it make them even more formidable an opponent than they were last season? Absolutely. But his addition doesn’t make Houston any more of a threat to the Yankees than they already were.

If the Yanks are going to beat the Astros in the American League Championship Series in 2018, they’re going to have to figure out how to hit guys like Justin Verlander, who has held active Yankees to a miserable .505 OPS over his career.

VerlandervsYanks

Or Dallas Keuchel, who has been equally as nasty against New York.

KeuchelvsYanks

Or maybe they’ll stop pitching to Carlos Correa, who has absolutely crushed Yankees pitching. In 19 career games, he’s hit .384 with 11 extra-base hits (six home runs), 18 RBI and a 1.144 OPS.

Those are all bigger problems for the Yanks than Gerrit Cole.

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