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Gerrit Cole Taking Off in Houston

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The defending World Champion Houston Astros sought to improve themselves this past offseason.  The Astros identified the need to strengthen an already strong starting rotation.  Houston kicked the tires of Yu Darvish among other free agent pitchers.

In Pittsburgh, the Pirates decided to hit the reset button of the current roster.  Gerrit Cole’s name was dangled in the trade market.  The Yankees engaged the Pirates in trade talks for Cole’s services.  The Yankees front office had been a fan of Gerrit Cole’s for quite some time having originally drafted the right-hander in 2008 before Cole opted to head to UCLA.

Media sources reported a deal between Pittsburgh and New York and just as quickly the deal fell through later that day.  Houston then swooped in and traded for Cole to solidify their rotation.  Houston was betting on the young starters upside.

Cole won 19 games in 2015 while posting an impressive 2.60 ERA and punching out 200 plus hitters.  He was an All-Star and finished 4th in the NL Cy Young Voting.  His 2015 campaign showed the baseball world that Gerrit Cole was worthy of his 2011 1st pick status.

The 2016 & 2017 seasons were less memorable for Cole and the Pirates.  Pittsburgh went from 98 wins in 2015 to 78 in 2016 and 75 in 2017.   Cole saw his ERA jump to 3.88 in 2016 and 4.26 in 2017.  Cole became prone to the long ball as he gave up 31 home runs in 2017.

Gerrit Cole needed a change of scenery and the Pirates obliged him.

Gerrit Cole joined an Astros rotation that featured two previous Cy Young Award winners in Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel in addition to Lance McCullers and Charlie Morton.

The consensus was that Cole would be the fourth man in the Astros rotation.  This role would be a change for Cole as he was the ace of the Pirates staff for most of his tenure in Pittsburgh.

Cole has taken this role in stride this season.  He endeared himself to the Houston faithful by joining Astros legend Nolan Ryan as the second pitcher in MLB history to strikeout 11 or more hitters in three consecutive starts to begin the season.

Baseball Prospectus

He set a career best last Friday by fanning 14 Texas Rangers.  Cole’s WHIP is a staggering 0.66 and has only issued 4 walks in the early season.

The Astros offense has failed to provided Cole with run support in two of his first three starts, but the wins will surly come for the talented starter.

Gerrit Cole has always had talent, but no one could’ve foreseen this historic start.  Cole regaining his 2015 form can be attributed to a couple factors.

He has the motivation of contributing to a championship team.  Cole doesn’t have the pressure of being the guy in Houston as the Astros won the World Series without him.

Cole is making the rare, smooth transition pitchers have going from the senior to the junior circuit.  Gerrit Cole is dominating early into the 2018 season, and if he continues this pace Houston will be dominating late into October once again.

 

American League

April 2019’s Biggest MLB Stories

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Yahoo! Sports

Holy smokes, the first season of the 2019 MLB season is already in the books, and stories were abundant in this one. From certain players tearing it up and others struggling to records being broken, April 2019 was certainly eventful in the baseball world. Here are the biggest stories, happenings and surprises from the first month of the 2019 campaign.

Albert the Great

Image result for albert pujols
UPI.

At 39, Albert Pujols might not be the revered slugger that he was in his prime, but the Anaheim Angel is still getting it done and joined elite company in April. His two-run double off of Kansas City’s Homer Bailey on April 28 gave him career RBIs no. 1,996 and 1,997, putting him ahead of Barry Bonds and in sole possession of no. 3 on the all-time list. Only Alex Rodriguez (2,086) and Hank Aaron (2,297) remain ahead of him. Though it’s unlikely that he’ll ever catch the latter, Pujols could pass A-Rod with a healthy and productive 2019 and 2020.

C&C on a tear

Outfielders Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers spent April wreaking havoc on National League pitching. Bellinger appears to have regained his form after a sophomore slump in 2018 and was the first month’s best hitter. The 23-year-old currently has the NL Triple Crown with a .431 AVG, 14 HR and 37 RBI. Reigning MVP Yelich is picking up where he left off last year, and owns a share of the homer lead in addition to a .353 AVG and 34 RBI. It’s obviously still early and both of these guys will cool off at some point, but they are as good as it gets in the Senior Circuit right now.

K&K still on the sidelines

Image result for dallas keuchel craig kimbrel
New York Post.

Two of this past winter’s most high-profile free agents still remain unsigned as the calendar turns to May. 2015 American League Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel and 2x Reliever of the Year Craig Kimbrel are still without homes and MLB.com Insider Ken Rosenthal reports that it may be as long as June before either star signs. Both men have different contract desires, as Rosenthal reports that Kimbrel does not want a one-year deal whilst Keuchel is aiming for the short-term. There are plenty of teams that would love the services of either, but it looks as if a signing won’t occur any time soon.

Medical costs soaring in the Bronx

The New York Yankees had enough injuries in the first month of the season to fill an entire hospital ward. Sophomore manager Aaron Boone has had the difficult task of holding his team together with more than half his starting lineup on the disabled list. Miguel Andujar, Dellin Betances, Greg Bird, Clint Frazier, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, Luis Severino and Giancarlo Stanton are all currently laid up. Considering half of the team’s minor league system has seemingly played in the past month, New York has done pretty well and Boone should be commended for his work. But fans in the Bronx will feel much better when all their superstars return.

Transaction declined?

Image result for chris sale
NESN.

Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale is one of the MLB’s most dominant lefties and has been since he became a starter in 2012, but he’s been MIA for the first month of this year. Fans accustomed to the 7x All-Star dazzling batters with his slider would be shocked to see that he’s currently 0-5 with a 6.30 ERA. There’s still every chance that he can turn it around, but the Red Sox and their Nation have not enjoyed their ace struggling so mightily. Sale has taken full responsibility for his failures, but if his team wants to repeat as World Series champions, they’ll need him to regain his form.

Slow start for Harper in Philly

The most high-profile free agent acquisition in recent MLB history hasn’t gotten off to the start that his new team was expecting. 26-year-old Bryce Harper is having a rougher time acclimating to the Philadelphia Phillies than anyone would have thought. Through the first month of what is to be a very long tenure in the City of Brotherly Love, Harper is batting .231 with 6 HR and 20 RBI. He’s far too talented to struggle like this long-term, but considering what the Phillies are paying him, they can’t be too happy.

Vlad Jr. makes long awaited debut

Image result for vladimir guerrero jr
CBS Sports.

The baseball world had been chomping at the bit for some time to see no.1 prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at the big league level. However, the Toronto Blue Jays waited patiently with the young phenom and allowed him to spend the end of 2018 and the beginning of this season with Triple-A Buffalo. Fans finally got their wish when the Jays made the call last week and brought Guerrero up for his MLB debut on April 26 vs. Oakland. A proud Vlad Sr. looked on as his son ripped a double in the bottom of the ninth for his first career knock. There will surely be many more to come.

Mets endure deGrom TJ scare

Jacob deGrom is currently the best pitcher baseball has to offer and he hasn’t slowed on the heels of his masterful 2018 campaign. However, the Mets and their fans had to endure a brief panic when it looked as if the superstar righty had been claimed by the curse of Tommy John. It turned out to be nothing more than a scare and deGrom only missed one start, but baseball fans in Queens surely thought the sky was falling at the time.

Ichiro retires in grand fashion

Image result for ichiro suzuki farewell
Sporting News.

Though it happened in March actually and most fans may have forgotten about it by now, it’s still one of best stories to come from baseball in some time. The Seattle Mariners opened the 2019 season vs. the Athletics at Tokyo Dome in Japan’s capital. It was undoubtedly an amazing experience for all players involved, but it stood out for one player especially. 45-year-old Ichiro Suzuki played the series with the Mariners and called it a career after the second game. Not many foreign players in Major League Baseball can say that they played their last game in front of their native country and it’s an honor Ichiro more than earned throughout his 28-year professional career in Japan and North America. An undoubted future Hall of Famer and one of the best hitters of all time, Ichiro walked off an MLB field for the last time to a thunderous ovation from his countrymen. Thanks for the memories, no.51.

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American League

Rays Place Austin Meadows On IL

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The Tampa Bay Rays placed outfielder Austin Meadows on the 10-day injured list due to a sprained right thunb.

Rays general manager Erik Neander said that the team may be without Meadows for “a few weeks”, according to the Tamp Bay Times’ Marc Topkin.

Meadows has started the 2019 season hot, posting a stellar .351/.422/.676 slash line to go along with six homers for Tampa Bay.

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American League

Blue Jays’ Matt Shoemaker Out for Season with Torn ACL

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Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Matt Shoemaker will miss the rest of the season after suffering a torn ACL, according to Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith.

Shoemaker, who was initially placed on the 10-day injured list, suffered the injury during a game on Saturday.

Shoemaker, 32, was off to an impressive start for Toronto, pitching the the tune of 1.57 ERA.

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