NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the New York Yankees pitches during the sixth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on August 19, 2020 in New York City.
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Gerrit Cole has been showing New York Yankees fans what a lunatic he is since day one of spring training. And the fans love it.

James Kelly

Gerrit Cole is a psychopath. Anytime you put a baseball in his hand, he becomes a completely different animal. The mild-mannered, “just happy to be here” player in the press conference transforms into a ruthless assassin whose weapon of choice is leather ball.

And by god do New York Yankees fans love it.

Cole’s latest incident of welcomed insanity came on Wednesday night as manager Aaron Boone came to remove him from the game.

Now let’s make one thing clear right away. Boone was 100% right to make the change to the bullpen. For one thing, Cole was at 109 pitches. With expanded playoffs and a strong team start to 2020, there’s no reason to push your ace and risk injury or fatigue. The Yankees need to protect Cole so he’s ready when the games really count.

Secondly, with a lefty coming up to the plate, left-hander Zack Britton was the clear matchup option. Britton, despite struggling Wednesday, has been fantastic in 2020, particularly while serving in the closer role. He’s a weapon that Boone is lucky to have at the ready in the seventh inning.

Unfortunately, the Yankees fell to the Rays 4-2, dropping the first two games of the series.

But the point is that Gerrit Cole didn’t want to come out of the game. He knew he was at 109 pitches. And he knew Britton was likely the better matchup. But he started the seventh inning and he wanted to get that last out to finish it.

You can’t help but love the fire he brings every start. Cole could very well spend the rest of his career with the Yankees. He’ll welcome pitchers the Yankees haven’t even drafted yet to the team.

And even if Cole’s stuff fades with age, the intensity he brings to that clubhouse will never change. The players will rally around him, and the young pitchers will develop their craft and their mindset on the mound under his tutelage.

It almost feels like Cole could be the heir apparent to CC Sabathia in the clubhouse. Sabathia was the horse in the rotation in his early years before developing into a crafty lefty in the latter stages of his career. He became the go-to guy in the clubhouse for young pitchers and hitters alike. That could be Cole’s new role.

So yeah, Yankee fans love that Gerrit Cole is an absolute psychopath.

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