The signing of Gerrit Cole by the New York Yankees sent ripples not felt throughout the league since the late 90s early 2000s. It signaled the return of the much despised Evil Empire. The signing of Cole revamped a much dead and ailing rotation that consisted of fake aces an washed up talent. This signing reminded me of a time not long ago with a similar situation and presence . The signing that I am alluding to is of Japanese star Masahiro Tanaka
Tanaka at the time of signing just finished off his final season in japan in which he went 24-0 with a .934 WHIP and a staggering 1.27 ERA. Tanaka was on another level of dominance. Remind you of anyone?
Comparing Tanaka and Cole might be confusing to some but really they are one in the same. At the time both Coles and Tanakas signing they were the top dogs in there respective leagues. Providing excitement and expectations from not only Yankee fans but the league in general.
In order to fully understand how Coles Yankee career could potentially play out like Tanakas we must go back to 2013 .
the Japanese Import
Since signing with the Yankess in 2014 Tanakas career has been a tale of two halves.
Once he came over from Japan Tanaka was electric from his first start in 2014. He threw 7 innings allowing 2 earned runs and striking out 8 Blue Jays. A Lineup that included players such heavy hitters as Jose Bautista and the parrot man himself Edwin Encarnación.
Throughout 2014 Tanaka would continue his dominance earning himself a top 5 finish in ROY voting and being selected to the All-Star game.
Going into his 2015 and 2016 seasons he had to prove not only was 2014 not a fluke but also show he can hang with MLBs best hitters. In 2015 he posted his career best in H/9 and WHIP. 2016 seemed like it all came together as he went a career best 14-4 looking completely untouchable. All while earning himself a top 7 finish in the CY Young voting.
Tanaka was on the rise and set up to be the ace of the future. Then his career hit a slope.
These last 4 years has seen a sharp decline in Tanakas ability and stat line. Each year Tanaka has seen a steady increase in not only HR, ER, and Hits but also his ERA. Which at the moment seems to enjoy sitting at a not so pretty four and a half. Another problem of Tanaka that I’ve noticed is his injuries.
For the last 4 years Tanaka has been a re occurring member of the New York Yankees DL Party. Whether its arm soreness or Hamstring issues Tanaka seems to find his way to the DL. Not only is that a Problem for him but it hurts the team as a whole. Losing him sometimes before big games has caused players like Luis Severiano to pitch in games he probably shouldn’t have been in. Which in turn cost them post season runs and division titles
Luckily for Yankee fans they shouldn’t have to worry about Cole on the DL. So far in his career he hasn’t had a major injury scare or long stints on the DL. He is on the Yankees however so i’m sure they’ll find a way.
The Wrap Up
Gerrit Cole is a top 5 pitcher in the MLB and the second best pitcher in New York. These last two years have been the greatest pitching display in recent memory and deserved to be capped off with a CY Young win. It Just so happened that Justin Verlander and BBWAA/unbiased journalist Kate Upton would have it their way.
Questions and Concerns
My only concern is that it has only been two years of true dominance for Gerritt Cole. Cole has been in the league for seven years three of which were dominant. How were those other four years? He went 40-37 with a ERA of 3.75.
some might say hes hitting his stride now following his stint in Houston but his first five starts with the Yankees hasn’t been Gerrit Cole. Yes hes 4-0 but hes given up 7 Home Runs and 11 Earned Runs over those starts. This is not including his most recent start against the Rays which he lost and gave up 4 runs in the process. Also his postseason woes should be a big concern for someone trying to win a World Series.
The Question that i will leave you with is were the New York Yankees short sighted in this signing? They know they have a lackluster rotation and decided it was best to go out and get one great pitcher instead of multiple good arms. My only thought is they know they have potential in the system with Luis Gil and Devi Garcia who have the potential to complement Cole in the rotation.
Also with so much money locked up in Cole, Stanton, and Chapman who is gonna pay their young studs such as Arron Judge? The New York Yankees sure do have more questions than answers for these next couple years .