Gerrit Cole sends blunt message to teammates to prevent another Yankees ‘disaster’

Gerrit Cole is pitching at the Yankees facility in Tampa prior to the start of their spring training.

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New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole didn’t mince words when reflecting on the team’s disappointing 2023 season, calling it a “disaster” according to ESPN’s David Schoenfield. The Yankees finished 82-80, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

Gerrit Cole revealed that with postseason hopes dwindling, the team’s focus shifted to a less glamorous goal: simply avoiding their first losing record since 1992. This shift in priorities underscores the team’s struggles and highlights the gap between their ambitions and their actual performance.

He reflected on the challenges faced throughout the season, acknowledging the team’s perseverance despite being hindered for a significant portion of the year. Gerrit Cole noted the team’s impressive streak of finishing over .500 for over three decades, highlighting how the collective focus shifted when larger aspirations became less attainable.

“Being hamstrung for a great part of the year, there was a lot of grit that showed,” he said. “We have a 30-some consecutive year run of finishing over .500, so when the greater goals faded away, there was a little bit of a rallying factor around that. We’re not going to be the team, regardless of the position we’ve been put in, to cash it in at the end of the year, so we continued to push. So there was an element of pride in that—but obviously ‘disaster’ was an appropriate word. Still fresh in our minds, so hopefully we use it as motivation.

The Yankees ace emphasized the team’s refusal to give up, regardless of the challenges they faced throughout the season. He highlighted their commitment to pushing forward and maintaining their competitive spirit, despite the difficult circumstances. While acknowledging the severity of the situation, he described it as “disaster,” indicating the significant obstacles they encountered.

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AP

Gerrit Cole ready to lead Yankees to rebound

The “disaster” season is now acting as a driving force for Gerrit Cole and the Yankees. They aim to harness the setbacks of the previous year as inspiration as they approach the 2024 season.

Gerrit Cole expressed the hope that the recent experiences would serve as motivation for the team, emphasizing the importance of learning from those events and using them as fuel for future success.

While the Yankees endured a collective “disaster” in 2023, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2016, Gerrit Cole delivered a career-defining season. He earned his first Cy Young Award with a stellar 15-4 record, 2.63 ERA, and 222 strikeouts, standing tall amidst the team’s struggles.

However, behind Gerrit Cole, the Yankees’ pitching rotation crumbled. Only Nestor Cortes Jr. joined Cole in reaching 20 starts. Rodón, a high-priced free agent acquisition, battled forearm and back injuries, finishing with a disappointing 6.85 ERA in just 14 starts. Even Cortes Jr. saw his season limited by a shoulder injury, posting a mediocre 4.97 ERA in 12 starts.

These injuries contributed to a league-worst 18th-ranked rotation ERA (4.44) compared to their previous year’s top-4 finish. Fueled by disappointment, the Yankees made significant offseason moves, most notably acquiring slugger Juan Soto via trade.

Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole has his home run problem resurfaced

If the Yankees’ pitching rotation can rediscover its form in 2024, it could be a major turning point for the team and their World Series aspirations.

At 33 years old, Gerrit Cole aims to play a pivotal role in steering the New York Yankees towards their first World Series victory since 2009. Following a lackluster season for the team, characterized by disappointment, the Yankees initiated a substantial overhaul of their roster with the aspiration of rekindling their championship aspirations. This ambition aligns with his own desire to pursue baseball’s ultimate accolade.

Gerrit Cole places his trust in the collective effort of the revamped Yankees roster.

“The top four guys are former All-Stars,” he said. “Clarke Schmidt had a career year last year, he’s looking to build on a really solid innings build up and a really solid body of work. The depth guys, I’m not quite as familiar with, but obviously they’re highly regarded and strike throwers, which are always welcomed in the major leagues. So I’m certainly excited for what some of the young guys have to bring. It’s always exciting when organizational guys make the next step and I’m certainly excited to see what the rest of the rotation and our top five guys can do. There’s a lot of potential out there and there’s some hungry individuals for sure.”

Upbeat on Yankees rotation and new signing Soto

Gerrit Cole expressed his enthusiasm about the pitching rotation, highlighting the impressive credentials of the top four pitchers, all of whom are former All-Stars. He mentioned Clarke Schmidt‘s strong performance in the previous season and his potential for further improvement. Regarding the depth pitchers, he admitted he wasn’t as familiar with them but acknowledged their reputation as skilled strike throwers, which is valuable in the major leagues. He expressed excitement about the opportunity for young pitchers within the organization to step up and contribute. Overall, Gerrit Cole emphasized the potential and hunger within the pitching staff, expressing optimism about what they could achieve collectively.

The Yankees ace topped the Major Leagues in WHIP (0.98) and held the lowest opponent on-base percentage (.259). His ERA ranked as the fourth lowest among qualified Yankees pitchers over the past 51 years, behind Ron Guidry (1.74 in 1978), Rudy May (2.46 in 1980), and Catfish Hunter (2.58 in 1975).

Yankees ace Gerrit Cole with the 2023 Cy Young Award.

Gerrit Cole mentioned that besides fulfilling his responsibilities and aiming to win the World Series, he didn’t believe he had any other specific objectives. He emphasized his preference for simplicity in approaching his goals.

New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone exudes confidence in Gerrit Cole retaining his mantle as the team’s ace and pitching leader. In Boone’s view, Gerrit Cole’s unwavering consistency and meticulous preparation make him an invaluable role model. Maintaining Cole’s health will be paramount, ensuring he takes the mound every five days at his peak performance.

Gerrit Cole admits Yankees getting too much injured

While acknowledging unusual occurrences like Aaron Judge‘s outfield wall collision in 2023, Gerrit Cole believes the team needs to proactively address its injury vulnerability. He sees room for improvement in injury prevention, aiming to mitigate setbacks and bolster the team’s overall resilience.

Gerrit Cole remarked that addressing that issue had been a focus for many of their players, and Aaron Boone had addressed it earlier that morning. He noted that in the initial days and recent weeks when players had been present, they had managed to establish a solid groundwork, which he considered the initial phase.

The ace appeared notably excited about the Yankees’ recent acquisition of outfielder Juan Soto, and his enthusiasm is understandable. Soto has had considerable success against Gerrit Cole, boasting a batting average of 4-for-6 with a double and two home runs in their matchups. These encounters occurred during the 2019 World Series, back when Cole was pitching for the Astros.

Gerrit Cole expressed admiration for the hitter, describing him as “magnificent” and highlighting his exceptional feel for the strike zone. He emphasized that facing him would be challenging due to his remarkable combination of statistics and attributes at the plate. Cole also expressed gratitude that he wouldn’t have to pitch against such a formidable opponent.

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