Gerrit Cole was doing typical Gerrit Cole things this post season for the Astros. With a 4-1 record, only losing in the World Series Game 1 at home (which every starting pitcher for the home team did), he was lights out. However, just moments after the Nationals claimed the title World Champions, Cole was heard telling Astros Media Relations staffers that he was “…not employed by the team.” He would then go on to say he would do the post game interviews and conferences as a “…representative of himself.”
The question becomes, what happened? Cole is no doubt the pitcher of the year in MLB. With an already impressive stat line, he made sure that in his contract year he was set for success looking forward. In fact, this season was so impressive many speculate he will obtain the most lucrative MLB contract for a starting pitcher in history. Just taking a look at his post season accolades alone make his a very important piece to many clubs puzzle.
Cole, as stated earlier, had a record of 4 wins – 1 loss in the post season. His only loss came in Game 1 as the Astros were hosting the Nationals. However, no pitcher won at home during the World Series, and Cole did put the Astros in a position to lose by 1 run. This is in opposition to Justin Verlander who led the Astros to a 12-1 loss in Game 2.
The California native saw 36.2 innings on the mound where he scatter 21 hits, and only allowed 7 earned runs, resulting in a staggering 1.48 ERA during the Post Season in the home run era of MLB. Let’s not forget the 57 strikeouts which resulted in an average of 1.57 strikeouts per inning. Again, he was dominant.
So back to that question: what happened? Decisions happened. Gerrit Cole pitches last in Game 5 of the World Series, which was 3 days before the final Game 7 theatrics. While it’s short rest, it’s not unreasonable to have a pitcher as dominant as he was ready to go in order to bring home the title. In fact, Cole even prepared to potentially enter the game in the 5th inning. But why didn’t he?
Well, according to AJ Hinch, Manager of the Astros, the game plan was to bring their Ace in if they had kept the lead, or kept it tied. As most know now though, the Nationals opened the flood gates in the seventh inning as Anthony Rendon and Howie Kendrick homered to take the lead. At which point the Nationals never looked back and went on to win Game 7.
Now, wait, Cole warmed up in the fifth. Was intended to be used if they maintained the lead. But was not used before the 7th inning when the gates opened? Correct. Why? That’s the golden question. Hinch wanted to wait until the 9th inning to essentially bring their Blue Giant pitcher into secure the win. However, if you take a look at stats, Cole only threw a total of 214 pitches throughout the World Series, meaning he surely would have had room in the tank to deliver another 60-70 pitches to secure a win. After all, it is the last game of the season and he did have a 3 day rest.
When Cole was asked about his own opinion on the decisions made, he stated, “We just went over the game plan and he laid out the most advantageous times to use me. We didn’t get to that position.” While it’s hard to put tone of a conference into words, he didn’t sound too thrilled with the decisions.
This was also the same interview that he stated things like ,”…it was just a pleasure to play in the City of Houston.” While sporting a Boras Corp. hat, which is owned by Super Agent Scott Boras, Coles’ agent. Anyone around the baseball world knows about Boras and his top tier players staying with their current teams.
So as a recap, let’s go back to that first question. What happened? Well, management happened. Decisions were made. An ace pitcher wasn’t utilized. The Nationals won. And the Astros? The City of Houston? They most likely saw Gerrit Cole as a member of their team for the last time.
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