Gerrit Cole
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Gerrit Cole made it very clear he didn’t appreciate Josh Donaldson calling him a cheater.

New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole responded to being accused of cheating as a true competitor does: disregarding the insult before firmly saying he won’t tolerate such comments.

In this case, Cole was responding to Minnesota Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson. Speaking to reporters Friday, including Dan Hayes of The Athletic, Donaldson pointed to Cole’s spin rate dropping in Thursday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays and how it coincided with minor league suspensions for doctoring the baseball. Cole and the Yankees lost the game 9-2, and Cole was noticeably not as dominant.

Meeting with the media ahead of Wednesday’s game with the Twins, Cole addressed Donaldson’s comments:

As to why Thursday’s start was so uncharacteristic of him, Cole also had an answer:


JB’s Take

If Gerrit Cole is proven to be using a sticky substance to manipulate the baseball, then he should be punished accordingly. Cheating is cheating, plain and simple.

However, this writer isn’t so sure Cole is cheating at all. He has noticeably labored in his last four starts, but last Thursday’s against the Rays was the first in which he actually looked bad. Pitchers have rough stretches and not even Cole is immune to them.

It’s also worth noting that Cole has now made 12 starts this season, matching 2020’s total. Fans will recall that in his seventh, eighth, and ninth starts last year, Cole was 0-3 with a 5.62 ERA. Given how much the Yankees have struggled all season, Cole’s usual consistency only magnifies his bad starts.

The numbers don’t indicate cheating either. Even with more velocity, Cole’s average fastball hasn’t changed much. It was 95.7 mph with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and 96.9 mph in the four years since he was traded to the Houston Astros.

And speaking of the cheating Houston Astros, it’s easy to forget the team actually does a good job developing pitchers. They’re all-in on pitching science and analytics as the Pirates continue to toil in Tanktown.

Gerrit Cole, as we know, fully embraces analytics. He exits his starts and immediately looks at charts and numbers so he can prepare accordingly for his next appearance. Would a cheater go to that much trouble?

Josh Donaldson can believe what he wants about Cole cheating, but he’s wasting his breath even if pitchers cheating is a rampant problem.

Gerrit Cole isn’t cheating. The numbers don’t support it no matter how you, no pun intended, spin them.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.