NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 18: Gerrit Cole pose for a photo at Yankee Stadium during a press conference at Yankee Stadium on December 18, 2019 in New York City.
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Gerrit Cole’s first New York Yankees regular season is in the books and despite some ups and downs, he was an absolute stud.

Danny Small

Are we finally done with the overreactions about Gerrit Cole once and for all? We can only hope. Despite a rough patch in August, Cole’s first regular season with the New York Yankees can only be viewed as a resounding success.

Sure, he had some issues with the long ball and the postseason is ultimately where he needs to make his mark, but Cole’s first regular season in pinstripes is proof-positive that he is the ace the Yankees have needed for a long time.

Close To Dominant

Gerrit Cole won’t win his first Cy Young in his first season in the Bronx, but that’s OK. There are almost always growing pains when someone signs with a new team in a new city. He still held up his end of the $324-million contract, finishing with a 2.84 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, .197 BAA, and 94 strikes in 73 innings.

His detractors will cite his 3.87 FIP as a reason why *actually* Gerrit Cole was bad this year, but that’s disingenuous. The main reason for Cole’s relatively high FIP was because he had trouble avoiding the long ball. In his first eight starts, he allowed 12 home runs.

However, over the course of his last four starts, he only allowed two home runs. As long as he continued to strike out hitters at an alarming rate and worked out his home-run issues, that FIP would have come down over the course of a full season.

Pointing to Cole’s FIP as a sign that he’s due for a regression in the coming years is misusing the statistic.

The raw numbers still matter and a 2.84 ERA would be good for 13th in all of MLB if the season ended on Sept. 23. Make no mistake, finishing top-15 in ERA is an accomplishment.

Cole was not as dominant as we know he can be, but he was not far off either.

Health and Longevity

The Yankees are no stranger to injury woes. Anyone who has followed the team over the last two seasons understands that they have faced unprecedented struggles with the injury bug to the lineup and the pitching staff.

First things first, let’s all find some wood on knock on it before reading this next paragraph. Find a table, chair, door, tree, or your own head. Found it? OK, good.

Cole was the perfect picture of health in his first (shortened) season. Every fifth day, Cole was out there on the mound providing length for the bullpen. He went at least six innings in two-thirds of his starts and seven innings four times.

The righty would have almost certainly been able to go deeper into a few more games if not for caution or just bizarre circumstances. His Yankees debut was a five-inning complete game that was shortened by rain.

He’s healthy, rested, and on schedule to start Game 1 of the team’s upcoming Wild Card Series. That’s all Yankees fans can ask for.

Postseason

Regular-season success is great, but Cole will ultimately be graded on whether or not he can elevate the Yankees to a World Series. That’s the end goal.

As mentioned previously, the Yankees are lining him up to start Game 1 of the Wild Card Series. If the Yankees advance, he’ll likely be able to start Game 1 of the ALDS and can throw on short rest in Game 5 or be used as a bullpen arm in one of the later games in the series.

If the Yankees advance to ALCS and beyond, they’ll likely be mixing and matching due to the no days off 2020 postseason. This revamped postseason schedule means the Yankees won’t be able to ride Cole as heavily like normal years with off days built into the schedule.

With that said, he’ll have at least one crack at the postseason in pinstripes this year, maybe more.

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