Home SPORTS Gerrit Cole has home run issue to solve despite strong Yankees season

Gerrit Cole has home run issue to solve despite strong Yankees season

by NYPost
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Gerrit Cole has home run issue to solve despite strong Yankees season

Gerrit Cole entered the postseason with some questions about whether he should be the Yankees’ starter in playoff openers after a solid regular season that was plagued by too many home runs.

But the Yankees might not have made it out of the ALDS without him.

Even though his playoffs ended with a tough outing against the Astros in the ALCS — on a night when a standout performance still wouldn’t have meant much without any offensive support from his teammates — Cole’s two strong starts against the Guardians in the ALDS were more in line with his status as a $324 million ace. But the home runs continued, with one in each of his three playoff starts, as the right-hander finished off a mostly solid campaign that still may not have lived up to his or Yankees fans’ expectations.

“I had goals, I had things I wanted to accomplish personally in order to put us in a position to have success,” Cole said after the Yankees were swept out of the ALCS. “And team-wise, we had goals which we obviously didn’t meet. I feel that there are some areas for improvement. But that’s just the game in general. We’re always just kind of grinding away, staying curious and trying to improve.

Gerrit Cole allows a two-run homer in the ALCS.

“The league threw challenges at us this year that maybe we haven’t faced before. After a few weeks off and prepping for next season, we’ll look to kind of digest that information and see where we go from there.”

Cole’s season as a whole was one of extremes. He gave up a career-high 33 home runs, the most of any pitcher in the American League, but he also recorded a major league-high 257 strikeouts — which broke Ron Guidry’s single-season franchise record — across 200 ²/₃ innings. In between, his 3.50 ERA ranked 30th among qualified starters and his 3.3 fWAR was 23rd among all major league starters.

The home runs often proved costly, frequently coming in an inning in which one small mistake quickly led to bigger damage. He allowed 1.5 home runs per nine innings — up from his career average of 1.0 home runs per nine, a number that has climber higher in recent years.

In the playoffs, Cole was able to minimize the damage from the home runs — a solo shot in each ALDS start, including the Game 4 outing in which he pitched seven strong innings to keep the Yankees’ season alive. In Game 3 of the ALCS, the home run Cole allowed was a two-run shot that came immediately after an error by center fielder Harrison Bader that extended the inning.

While Cole’s playoff performance this year was much improved from his AL wild-card game bust against the Red Sox in 2021, it still didn’t lead the Yankees where they hoped to go.

“I’ve not been able to end a season with popping champagne,” Cole said after the Yankees were eliminated, “so unfortunately I’m rather familiar with this day and I don’t like it.”

This story originally appeared on NYPost

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