Gerrit Cole, SP, Houston Astros
2017 fWAR: 3.1
2018 fWAR (so far): 3.5
Just about everything has improved this year for Gerrit Cole (outside of his ground-ball rate). The most noticeable improvements are his strikeout rate (35.2%) and swinging-strike rate (14.1%).
The right-hander has been leaning on his breaking pitches more than ever to get this done, too — Cole’s 21.8% slider rate and 19.4% knuckle curveball rate are both on track to be single-season career highs. Those offerings have produced strikeout rates of 39.5% and 42.6%, respectively, so far this year, which are sizable increases from 2017 (33.1% and 30.7%).