Gerrit Cole trips on fastball in rough subway outing but Yankees faith remains

Yankees ace Gerrit Cole has one of the worst outings of his career at Citi Field vs. the Mets on June 25, 2024.
Sara Molnick
Wednesday June 26, 2024

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In his second start of the 2024 season, New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole faced significant difficulties against the New York Mets in the Subway Series opener at Citi Field. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner struggled with both control and velocity, resulting in an early deficit for the Yankees.

Gerrit Cole’s outing was marked by an unusually high number of walks and home runs that caused the Yankees to lose 9-7. Gerrit Cole’s outing was unusually rough, as he lasted just four innings and allowed six runs on seven hits, including four home runs—the most he’s given up in a single game since 2022. He also issued four walks and did not record a strikeout, marking only the second time in his career he has failed to strike out a batter in a start.

The Yankees ace surrendered four homers over four innings, including two to the Mets’ No. 7 hitter, Mark Vientos. Additionally, he issued four walks, with three coming in a taxing 28-pitch first inning.

His start concluded after 72 pitches, having allowed seven hits without recording a strikeout—only the second time in his major league career that he failed to strike out a batter in a start. The Yankees were trailing 6-0 by the time Gerrit Cole exited the game with a record of 4IP, 7H, 6ER, and 0K.

According to MLB Statcast, Gerrit Cole’s fastball velocity was noticeably down. While his fastest pitch approached 99 mph, his average fastball speed was 95.4 mph, which was 1.3 mph slower than in his season debut against the Baltimore Orioles. Both of Vientos’ home runs were hit off fastballs under 93 mph.

Gerrit Cole acknowledged that although his cutter, curveball, slider, and changeup were effective, his trademark fastball lacked its usual dominance. He noted that his goal of pitching deep into games might not align with consistently throwing at maximum velocity, especially when his command is off.

“My objective is to get deep into the ballgame, and I’m not quite sure I’m ready to just keep sitting 97 to 99,” the Yankees ace conceded. “And we’re not in the strike zone enough with it. So not only is it an effort of trying to get 75 pitches, but it’s also like, ‘It’s not really going where you want to, Gerrit, so is that the most efficient fastball you can be throwing tonight?’”

The Mets fans at Citi Field were energized by Gerrit Cole’s uncharacteristic performance, setting an early celebratory tone for the home crowd in this crosstown rivalry.

The lack of velocity and command

Concerns about Gerrit Cole’s health surfaced due to his fastball velocity being 1-2 mph lower than his typical 96-97 mph, especially after the first inning. The Mets exploited this, hitting three home runs off Cole’s fastball.

Yankees ace Gerrit Cole has one of the worst outings of his career at Citi Field vs. the Mets on June 25, 2024.
AP

The ace, however, clarified that the drop in velocity after his 28-pitch first inning was deliberate. He compared his strategy to driving a car, indicating that finding the right balance of intensity is essential. Gerrit Cole noted that while his fastball was effective in the first inning, poor control led to a high pitch count, prompting him to adjust his approach to try and pitch deeper into the game.

Boone noted that Gerrit Cole started with strong velocity in the first inning but was worn down by the effort and subsequently reduced his intensity, leading to location issues against a team currently hitting well.

Gerrit Cole expressed feeling physically “really good” and believed he had met his progression goals. He highlighted several milestones achieved during the game, including throwing 28 pitches in an inning for the first time this season, reaching 98 mph on his fastball, and surpassing 70 total pitches. However, the star pitcher acknowledged the overall disappointment of not giving his team a chance to win.

Yankees continue to trust Gerrit Cole

Gerrit Cole’s recent outings for the New York Yankees have sparked concern following his return from an elbow injury. In his first two starts of the season, the Yankees star has surrendered eight runs across eight innings, with his pitch count rising from 62 against Baltimore to 72 against the Mets.

His season debut was delayed due to irritation of a nerve in his right elbow, which necessitated rest, targeted exercises, and a three-start minor league rehab assignment. Manager Aaron Boone acknowledged that while the difficulties Gerrit Cole has faced might not have been anticipated, the ace is still in the process of regaining his full strength after his hiatus.

“He’s Gerrit Cole,” Boone said. “He’s capable and has been in a pretty good spot here the last month or so as he’s built up. No, I don’t think this is inevitable — but he’s not all the way built up out of spring. He is coming back from an injury and being down. The buildup matters.”

Gerrit Cole himself indicated that he had met all physical recovery benchmarks. He likened his approach to pitching to driving a car, where he seeks a balance between intensity and control. He admitted that in his recent outing, particularly in the first inning, he struggled with his command, leading to a high pitch count.

“Too much clutch or too little clutch can slip you out of gear a little bit,” he said. “So obviously it came out really tremendous in the first, had to make a lot of pitches, but the reality is we just weren’t in the strike zone enough and it cost us 28 pitches.”

On June 25, 2024, Yankees' Gerrit Cole allowed 4 home runs against Mets in one of his career-worst outing,
Talkin’ Yanks

The pitcher’s remarks suggest Gerrit Cole is still fine-tuning his control and striving to find the ideal mix of power and precision in his pitches as he continues his recovery from the elbow issue.

Yankees slugger Aaron Judge offered support for Gerrit Cole, describing these recent starts as an “extended spring training” for the ace. Judge expressed confidence in the ace’s ability to regain his form. When asked about this assessment, Cole agreed it was fair, particularly regarding pitch sequencing.

Gerrit Cole elaborated on the challenges of readjusting to major league hitters’ reactions, noting his lack of recent experience in this regard. He admitted to being a pitch behind in his sequencing and struggled with execution, preventing him from learning from batter responses or inducing mishits.

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