Well if having an Andrew McCutchen problem wasn’t enough, let’s add a “what’s wrong with Gerrit Cole” problem to the mix. Cole was hit hard for his third straight start, allowing five runs in 5.o innings of work in a Pirates 5-4 loss to the Astros. The Bucs came off of a 5-1 West Coast trip and followed it up with a pathetic 1-5 homestand just when they had a chance to go on a nice run.
Cole cruised through the first inning with his first 1-2-3 first inning since April. The top of the 2nd inning did not go as well. Carlos Correa singled to lead off the inning and Cole placed a 93 mph fastball in the middle of the plate and Evan Gattis belted it to the strip district for his 20th home run of the year. After a clean third inning, Correa was back at it in the fourth with a single and then Marwin Gonzalez ripped one into the right field gap for an RBI triple. Cole gave up two more in the 5th inning and his day was over. Five runs on seven hits in 5.0 innings of work. He’s been so awful that in his last three starts, Cole has given up 31 hits in 16 innings. That’s a 17.4 H/9 rate, and that isn’t any good.
So what’s wrong with Cole? I’m sure the health question will come up, and I think it’s a very real possibility that something isn’t right. Cole just didn’t go from a career 3.00 ERA pitcher to suddenly a 6.00+ ERA pitcher who’s giving up hard hits all over creation. Something is up. One factor is that he’s without his normal catcher Chris Stewart, who’s been injured for a lot of the season, but it’s not an excuse for the type of numbers Cole is putting up.
Fans will be quick to call Cole “not an ace,” but the fact of the matter is why this is such a mystery is because Cole is that good and has been for multiple seasons. Suddenly seeing a pitcher struggling out there worse than Jeff Locke is a red flag that something is not right.
As if things couldn’t get any worse, the Pirates follow up their 1-5 homestand with a roadtrip to play the Brewers and Cubs, including four games at the house of horrors Miller Park. God help us all.