You think the Houston Astros are happy they acquired starting pitcher Gerrit Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates this past winter?
The 28-year-old is putting the final touches on a career-best season, and his most recent appearance now allows him to be mentioned in the same breath as Hall of Famer Bob Feller. Which is, you know, pretty cool.
Cole faced the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday and did what he’s consistently done throughout 2018: pile up strikeouts. He whiffed nine hitters through five innings of work, pushing his season-long total to 260. That’s already a career-high mark and led to this stat being produced:
The streak stretches even longer when looking back at 2017. Cole struck out at least five hitters in each of his final 12 appearances with the Pirates, meaning he’s surpassed this particular benchmark in 42 consecutive starts.
Cole has continued leaning on ground balls less than ever before (something that’s been happening consistently this year), but he’s also been incredibly tough on left-handed hitters.
Prior to Wednesday’s start, the righty had limited them to a .239 wOBA while striking them out at a 41.7% rate, compared to a .287 wOBA allowed and 28.0% strikeout rate against righties. We can further get a sense of this dominance by peeking at the triple slash of opposing hitters in each situation: righties have posted a .226/.284/.375 line against him, and lefties have managed just a .161/.254/.273 line.
Both of those numbers are very good, but what he’s done against left-handed hitters this year is rather absurd.
Cole has been at his best during his first year with Houston in just about any way you can slice it. His current 2.88 ERA is on track to be his best since that 2015 All-Star campaign, while his 5.7 fWAR, 34.7% strikeout rate, and 13.2% swinging-strike rate are on pace to be new personal highs.
The next mountain to climb will be to sustain some level of this production into October.
About Matt Musico
Matt currently manages Chin Music Baseball and contributes to The Sports Daily. His past work has been featured at numberFire, Yahoo! Sports and Bleacher Report. He’s also written a book about how to become a sports blogger. You can sign up for his email newsletter here.