Gerrit Cole miraculously keeps his fastball younger, immune to age factor

Yankees ace Gerrit Cole is pitching during his Cy Young season in 2023.

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TAMPA — Gerrit Cole is 34 but he keeps cranking fastballs that lighten up speed radars ignoring the call of age. In the language of baseball, he has traversed the path from a promising prospect to a seasoned veteran, finding himself comfortably situated without slowing down.

While his pitching mechanics remain flawlessly executed, the relentless march of time has initiated a subtle transformation in Gerrit Cole’s fastball. Once a blazing projectile that routinely reached triple-digit speeds, his fastball now delivers at a commendable, though no longer scorching, 92-93 mph.

Veteran Gerrit Cole still lighting up radar as Yankees ace

Every athlete eventually feels the inevitable tap on the shoulder. For hitters, the once-potent bat transforms into a heavy burden, and the baseball field seems to stretch endlessly, turning the 90-foot basepaths into daunting expanses. For pitchers, the thunderous roar of their fastball fades to a mere whisper, serving as a somber indication of diminishing dominance.

Yet, in the case of Gerrit Cole, he’s not just acknowledging the fading brilliance of his once-fiery fastball; he’s actively embracing it.

Gerrit Cole is pitching at the Yankees facility in Tampa prior to the start of their spring training.
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Unconventional? Far from it. Visionary? Undoubtedly. Gerrit Cole doesn’t dread the unavoidable downturn of his fastball; rather, he views it as a chance to transform, orchestrating strikeouts with even greater precision than he currently possesses. His goal is not merely to stifle opposing bats; he aspires to outwit the very minds behind them. Gerrit Cole’s ambition reaches beyond merely staying one step ahead; he aims to be two steps ahead of even the most astute hitters.

Gerrit Cole foresees a future where his pitch sequencing becomes an intricate tapestry of deception, confounding even the most advanced scouting software with its complexity.

In place of intensity and aggression, Gerrit Cole foresees a distinctive form of dominance by 2028. Picture this: Michael Jordan, feeling unchallenged by his supremacy in the 90s NBA, opts to switch hands purely for the intellectual thrill. This encapsulates the essence of Gerrit Cole’s ambition. Rather than overpowering hitters through sheer force, he envisions dismantling them with the precision of a surgeon, transforming his fastball into a scalpel instead of a blunt force.

This isn’t mere conjecture. When I discussed it with the reigning Cy Young winner last Thursday, his eyes sparkled with enthusiasm. Let there be no doubt, Gerrit Cole is not on the verge of decline. Just last year, he crafted his masterpiece in pinstripes.

Gerrit Cole bucks the trend

As other pitchers in his midst appear to be yielding to injuries or a decline in performance, Gerrit Cole bucks the trend, embodying a real-life Benjamin Button on the mound. Unlike the fictional character, his reversal doesn’t pertain to his physical appearance; it revolves around his sustained dominance in pitching.

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AP Photo/Adam Hunger

One naturally wonders: is Gerrit Cole fated to join the ranks of pitching anomalies, akin to the likes of Nolan Ryan, who manage to sidestep the ominous specter of Tommy John surgery and elude Father Time’s influence on their fastballs?

In response to the query, Gerrit Cole responded with a knowing smile. He subtly suggested that attempting to foresee the future was a futile task, but a mischievous glint in his eyes hinted otherwise. “Let’s just say I don’t sleepwalk into challenges,” he remarked enigmatically.

A moment later, he delved further, adopting a more serious tone. “Whether my fastball continues to scorch or begins to simmer, I’ll have innovative methods to outwit the opposition,” he asserted with quiet assurance.

This served as his way of reassuring not just the Yankees but perhaps the entire world that he wasn’t merely a flamethrower poised to fade away. Instead, he presented himself as a strategic thinker, consistently one step ahead, armed with an adaptable arsenal.

Pitchers often confront the looming threat of decline, a challenge that tends to manifest around their mid-thirties. Even the illustrious Yankee figure Ron Guidry, who boasted a remarkable 22-game-winning season at the age of 34, witnessed a decline in performance before ultimately retiring a few seasons later. Gerrit Cole is intimately acquainted with this formidable “aging wall,” having observed both teammates and idols navigate its unforgiving trajectory.

Guidry mentioned to me that when you encounter that wall, there’s a sudden change, and the ball no longer feels the same when it comes out of your hand. He pointed out that this is not something you consider in your 20s; it only becomes apparent on the day you acknowledge, “wow, I’m not that young anymore.”

Gator expressed uncertainty about when Gerrit Cole would encounter that wall, or if he would at all, but he affirmed his belief that Gerrit would navigate it successfully. Gator acknowledged Gerrit Cole’s intelligence and competitiveness, confidently asserting that he would be among those pitchers capable of defeating opponents even without a formidable fastball.

Yankees ace Gerrit Cole
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Reflecting Guidry’s viewpoint, Yankees manager Aaron Boone envisions remarkable longevity for Gerrit Cole. Highlighting his outstanding pitching abilities, Boone underscores, “He has genuine pitching skills, not merely dependence on sheer power.”

Rather than dreading a decrease in velocity, Boone foresees Gerrit ColeCole “embracing the challenge.” He anticipates, “It will provide him with an opportunity to unleash his creativity, much like CC Sabathia reinvented himself in the later stages of his career.”

As CC Sabathia grappled with the intense pain of arthritis, Gerrit Cole has defied expectations, maintaining a remarkably injury-free record throughout his career. While past injuries may not necessarily determine future velocity, possessing a physique akin to Gerrit Cole’s undoubtedly provides an advantage.

Since joining the pinstripes four years ago, Gerrit Cole has exemplified durability. Apart from a minor hamstring issue and a brief encounter with COVID in 2021, he has stood as an unwavering presence on the mound. This resilience introduces another facet of fascination to his potential development as a pitcher.

Similar to Tom Brady, Gerrit Cole places great emphasis on meticulous self-care. He consumes fluids with the fervor of a parched traveler in the desert, restores electrolytes with the precision of a biochemist, and accumulates enough sleep to evoke envy from Rip Van Winkle.

Regarding his pitching mechanics, he refers to them as “vanilla,” but they resemble a flawlessly crafted Swiss Army knife—deceptively simple yet proficient enough to dismantle even the most composed hitters. High schoolers, pay attention – this textbook delivery could serve as your pathway to the big leagues.

In contrast to the theatrical displays of the past, exemplified by aces like Marichal with his leg-rocket kick and Gibson’s flamboyant windup designed to confound hitters, Gerrit Cole’s unique approach centers around a smooth and deliberate routine. Picture a carefully crafted recipe, where each step plays a vital role in achieving success.

Yankees ace Gerrit Cole with the 2023 Cy Young Award.

To begin, a precise 90-degree leg kick sets the motion in motion, with the hips externally rotating as he propels himself off the mound. His stride, nearly five feet in length, mirrors 77% of his height – a meticulously calculated distance. Finally, upon the front foot’s contact with the ground, the elbow steadfastly maintains a locked position at shoulder height, ensuring precise control.

Though the mechanics may appear to be a complex dance, Gerrit Cole performs them with the seamless grace of a long-practiced routine. It’s unlikely that 2028 will introduce a radically different delivery. Instead, Gerrit Cole remains steadfastly in the present, guided by three unyielding objectives: taking the mound every fifth day, securing a Cy Young for his trophy case, and achieving the ultimate prize – hoisting a championship banner.

Has the mission been accomplished? Not entirely. However, with each commanding step, he steadily approaches the moment where Gerrit Cole can inscribe his name in the annals of baseball history.

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