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Going into 2017, the argument could be made that Gerrit Cole would be the Pittsburgh Pirates starter with the most pressure on him.
Though others can make a claim, it is Cole who had to show that he could be relied upon after a season that saw his peripherals decline nearly across the board. He turned in his fewest innings since becoming a full-time major league pitcher in 2014, along with a decrease in strike percentage, and increase in walk percentage and ugly FIP and xFIP numbers.
So with all that pressure in tow, all Cole has done this spring is go about his work. Efficiently. Workmanlike. Nary a peep of ill-health or organizational differences. Oh, and he’s looked pretty good doing it, too.
Chalk that up as a huge win for the Pittsburgh Pirates, who will absolutely need a solid season from Cole to have any designs on competing for the postseason. While Jameson Taillon and Ivan Nova have both also looked the part thus far, it is still a lot to ask for for those two in particular to turn in repeats of their magical 2016 Pirates tenures. Ditto for Chad Kuhl, and teh back-end of the rotation is still a mystery to this point.
Regardless of where you fall on the “Is Gerrit Cole an ace?” argument, there is no denying that the Pittsburgh Pirates’ number one starter has looked every bit of just that during Spring Training.
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