31 Dec Getting to Know New York Yankees Pitcher Garret Cole
Recently, Gerrit Cole agreed to a $324 million, nine-year contract with the New York Yankees. Cole’s deal established marks for pitchers in total dollars, topping the $245 million, seven-year contract Stephen Strasburg finalized a day earlier to remain with the World Series champion Washington Nationals. Its $36 million average is a record for any player, beating the $35.5 million in outfielder Mike Trout’s $426.5 million, 12-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels that started last season. Cole gets an even $36 million annually and can opt out after the 2024 season. He also has a full no-trade provision. The Yankees selected Cole in the first round of the 2008 draft, but he opted to enroll at UCLA. Two off seasons ago, the Yankees attempted to trade with the Pirates for Cole, but they were beaten out by the Astros. Cole led all 2019 pitchers in WAR, finished second in AL Cy Young Award voting, threw a record 11 consecutive starts with at least 10 strikeouts, and posted the highest strikeout rate and strikeout minus walk rate ever recorded by a qualified starting pitcher. His 326 regular-season strikeouts, more than one for every million the Yankees just agreed to fork over, were the most by any pitcher since Randy Johnson in 2002. Cole also followed up his league-leading regular-season ERA (2.50) and FIP (2.64) and major-league-leading ERA+ (185) with a 1.72 ERA in 36 2/3 postseason innings.
Why did you choose the Yankees? It was my dream & it is the best organization in the league.
When did you become a Yankee fan & why? My father went to school in New York & always loved the Yankees. He loved Willie Randolph & Mickey Rivers. I always loved baseball & always wanted to be like my father. We watched the Yankee games in California at 4pm every day after school.
Do you welcome the pressure of playing in New York? Pressure is a privilege. Pressure comes in situations that you earn. You play in October because you played well all year. I came 8 outs away from getting a ring. I’m as hungry as ever to finish that challenge and there isn’t a better place to do it than in New York.
Who helped you become the pitcher you are today? There have been a lot of people along the road. It started with my first pitching coach, Zak Doan, who I still keep in contact every day, and then Coach John Savage at UCLA was very influential. In Pittsburgh, my pitching coach Ray Searage and Jim Benedict were very influential; also working with A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano and Charlie Morton and Russell Martin, those guys were really influential to me.In Houston Justin Verlander helped me tremendously. He is definitely one of the best pitchers of this generation.
Why has the four-seam fastball been such a successful pitch for you? I used to throw a four-seam and the two-seam, and I used to probably lean on the two-seam almost 50 percent of the time or more. When I’d go into the room and have a meeting with the Astros coaching staff, they’d show me the data on my four-seam on video, and then they would show me what my best four-seams looked like.
How did it feel to pitch against your brother-in-law SF Giants Brandon Crawford? I root for him pretty hard throughout the season. When he comes up against me, I no longer root for him in those situations. But at the end of the game, after we shower up, I’m still one of his biggest fans.
Outside of baseball, what other sports were you into growing up? Growing up, I was always a big Lakers fan. So I’m a big Kobe and Shaq guy. But when I went to UCLA, the basketball program was just so entrenched in the legacy of the school. You can’t help but just fall in love with Pauley Pavilion and root for the Bruins.
What do you like to do when you are not playing baseball? I love to cook with my wife and entertain family and friends.