There has been speculation that the Pittsburgh Pirates would skip Gerrit Cole’s next start, but on Sunday, the Pirates made it official, announcing that Charlie Morton, Francisco Liriano and A.J. Burnett are the starters for the series starting Tuesday in St. Louis.
Skipping Cole’s next outing would give the young right-hander a few extra days of rest and help reduce Cole’s innings, which will be a concern down the stretch.
Cole has struggled his last couple outings. Against the Marlins, he lasted just five innings and surrendered four runs on six hits. Cole went just 5 1/3 innings giving up three runs on Aug. 2 against the Rockies.
Cole is scheduled to pitch on Friday against the Arizona Diamond backs. The few extra days rest could help Cole rest up and get back on track.
Neal Huntington has said that he believes Cole can finish the season, rather than being shut down like the Washington Nationals’ pitcher Stephen Strasburg.
With that being said, Cole may not finish the season as a starter but in the Pirates’ bullpen. Wandy Rodriguez won’t be back on Sept. 1, but if things go as planned he could be back in mid-September. That would be the perfect opportunity to switch Cole over to the bullpen.
The Pirates have made it clear that they believe in Charlie Morton, and he will not be moved to the bullpen at any point this season. The move would improve the Pirates rotation, while cutting down on the amount of innings Cole would see.
Moving Cole to the “Shark Tank,” is only going to strengthen one of the best bullpens in baseball. His 100 MPH fastball and biting slider would do wonders in late innings of games.
Cole currently has pitched 134 innings this season. That’s already more than he pitched in the minors the entire 2012 season.
Pittsburgh can skip Cole again at the end of August due to an off-day on the 26th. They could also skip him the first week of September due to an off-day. By cutting two or three of these starts, the Pirates could save at least 15 innings on Cole’s arm.
Cole has the potential to be a star in Pittsburgh if he remains healthy, but he is not there right now. If the Pirates chose to skip some of Cole’s starts or move him to the bullpen, they will not be hurting themselves. As seen in recent starts, Cole has not been as efficient as when he first arrived in Pittsburgh.