Connect with us

MLB

Which free-agent pitcher could be the next Gerrit Cole?

Published

on

The final image we have of Gerrit Cole’s tenure with the Houston Astros was after Game 7 of the World Series, when he was wearing a Scott Boras Corporation cap instead of drinking champagne during a victory celebration.

Still, it was a wonderful two seasons in Houston for Cole, as he shed his previous rep as a talented but inconsistent right-hander to become arguably the best starter in the majors. He went 35-10 with a 2.68 ERA and a ridiculous 602 strikeouts in 412 ⅔ innings with the Astros — a big improvement over his final two seasons with the Pirates when he went 19-22 with a 4.12 ERA and 294 strikeouts in 319 innings.

Cole is now a free agent, likely to receive the biggest contract ever for a pitcher. Next up for the Astros, or any other team for that matter: Find Gerrit Cole 2.0.

We have a guy in mind. We’ll get to free agent Zack Wheeler in a moment and why he’s an interesting comp for where Cole was two years ago, but let’s first do a quick synopsis of how Cole made the leap after his trade to Houston.

Cole was the No. 1 overall pick out of UCLA in 2011 and had his best season with the Pirates in 2015, when he went 19-8 with a 2.60 ERA and finished fourth in the Cy Young voting. His follow-up seasons were not as impressive, and the Astros traded four players to acquire him — with a clear idea on how to make Cole better.

The Pirates liked to emphasize two-seam fastballs down in the zone, the better to generate ground balls. The Astros encourage their pitchers — especially those with good velocity — to throw more four-seam fastballs up in the zone, the better to generate strikeouts. Ditching his sinker wasn’t the only change Cole made. He also started throwing his slider and curveball more often — which also helped produce more strikeouts. Here’s his pitch selection percentages with the Pirates compared to the Astros:

Pirates, 2016-2017
4-seam fastball: 48.7%
2-seasm fastball: 13.7%
Changeup: 8.6%
Curveball: 11.3%
Slider: 17.6%

Astros, 2018-2019
4-seam fastball: 50.9%
2-seam fastball: 4.2%
Changeup: 6.0%
Curveball: 17.3%
Slider: 21.6%

With the Pirates in 2016-17, Cole’s four-seam fastball generated a strikeout rate of 20.7%. His two-seamer generated a strikeout rate of just 9.4%. With the Astros, Cole’s strikeout rate on the four-seam fastball improved to 39.2%, so it’s not just about simply throwing it more often, but locating it better along with the interplay of throwing more breaking balls.

There aren’t many pitchers who have Cole-like potential, simply because there are few starting pitchers who can match his velocity. Among pitchers with at least 100 innings in 2019, Cole had the second-highest average fastball velocity at 97.4 mph, behind only Noah Syndergaard. Wheeler was fourth on the list, averaging 97.0 mph.

Wheeler is not a perfect match for Cole. Most notably, he missed all of 2015 and 2016 with injuries, including Tommy John surgery. He went 23-15 with a 3.65 ERA over the past two seasons with the Mets with 374 strikeouts in 377 ⅔ innings, numbers that line up with Cole’s final two seasons in Pittsburgh. Wheeler is expected to receive a four- or five-year contract for about $20 million per season. Teams are interested not just because he has been a quality pitcher for the Mets, but because of the expectation that there’s some upside the Mets weren’t able to extract.

Check out Wheeler’s numbers from 2019:

Source link

MLB

Tommy Pham headed to Padres; Rays to get Hunter Renfroe

Published

on

The San Diego Padres, intent on winning in 2020, agreed to a trade for outfielder Tommy Pham and a prospect from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for outfielder Hunter Renfroe and prized second-base prospect Xavier Edwards, sources familiar with the deal told ESPN on Thursday night.

The trade, which the sides expect to be announced Friday upon the completion of medical reviews, will send Pham, who turns 32 in March, to a Padres team in need of a high-on-base offensive catalyst. The Padres, who had the fifth-lowest on-base percentage in the majors last season, already have acquired outfielder Trent Grisham and second baseman Jurickson Profar in trades this winter and are expected to continue dealing to alleviate an outfield glut as the winter meetings approach this week, sources said.

Tampa Bay, which bowed out to the Houston Astros in a tight five-game division series this season, will get Renfroe and Edwards, an athletic middle infielder with excellent bat-to-ball skills who is a favorite among evaluators.

For the better part of a year, Renfroe, 27, has been part of Padres trade talks, with his sub-.300 career on-base percentage a red flag for teams. But his prodigious power, well-above-average defense, elite throwing arm and four years of club control were strong selling points for the Rays.

After buying low on Pham in a deal with the St. Louis Cardinals, the Rays sold relatively high, as he will earn more than $8 million in arbitration this season and become a free agent after 2021. Still, the Padres, in win-now mode, see Pham as a strong enough upgrade to give up a high-floor, higher-ceiling prospect in Edwards.

Edwards was No. 46 on ESPN insider Keith Law’s midseason top 50 prospects list. Though he hasn’t developed power in his first two minor league seasons, Edwards has top-end speed and will play almost all of the 2020 season at 20 years old. The Rays could play him at shortstop, though a scout who saw Edwards multiple times this season says he believes he could be a Gold Glove-caliber fielder at second base.

The Padres dipped into a farm system considered perhaps the best in the game, and sent Edwards to a Rays team that is in contention with it for that title. After a frustrating 2019, the Padres fired manager Andy Green, hired the well-thought-of Jayce Tingler and have taken an aggressive tack to reflect owner Ron Fowler’s mandate to win next season.

Source link

Continue Reading

MLB

Tommy Pham traded to Padres; Rays get Hunter Renfroe

Published

on

The San Diego Padres, intent on winning in 2020, agreed to a trade for outfielder Tommy Pham and a prospect from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for outfielder Hunter Renfroe and prized second-base prospect Xavier Edwards, sources familiar with the deal told ESPN.

The trade, which the sides expect to be announced Friday, will send Pham, who turns 32 in March, to a Padres team in need of a high-on-base offensive catalyst. The Padres, who had the fifth-lowest on-base percentage in the majors last season, already have acquired outfielder Trent Grisham and second baseman Jurickson Profar in trades this winter and are expected to continue dealing to alleviate an outfield glut as the winter meetings approach this week, sources said.

Tampa Bay, which bowed out to the Houston Astros in a tight five-game division series this season, will get Renfroe and Edwards, an athletic middle infielder with excellent bat-to-ball skills who is a favorite among evaluators.

For the better part of a year, Renfroe, 27, has been part of Padres trade talks, with his sub-.300 career on-base percentage a red flag for teams. But his prodigious power, well-above-average defense, elite throwing arm and four years of club control were strong selling points for the Rays.

After buying low on Pham in a deal with the St. Louis Cardinals, the Rays sold relatively high, as he will earn more than $8 million in arbitration this season and become a free agent after 2021. Still, the Padres, in win-now mode, see Pham as a strong enough upgrade to give up a high-floor, higher-ceiling prospect in Edwards.

Edwards was No. 46 on ESPN insider Keith Law’s midseason top 50 prospects list. Though he hasn’t developed power in his first two minor league seasons, Edwards has top-end speed and will play almost all of the 2020 season at 20 years old. The Rays could play him at shortstop, though a scout who saw Edwards multiple times this season believes he could be a Gold Glove-caliber fielder at second base.

The Padres dipped into a farm system considered perhaps the best in the game — and sent Edwards to a Rays team that is in contention with it for that title. After a frustrating 2019, the Padres fired manager Andy Green, hired the well-thought-of Jayce Tingler and have taken an aggressive tack to reflect owner Ron Fowler’s mandate to win next season.

Source link

Continue Reading

MLB

Ex-Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild hired for same position with Padres

Published

on

SAN DIEGO — Former New York Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild has been hired in the same position by the San Diego Padres.

Rothschild is one of several newcomers on rookie manager Jayce Tingler’s staff announced Thursday. Rothschild spent the last nine seasons with the Yankees before being fired after last season. He replaces Darren Balsley.

Other newcomers include bench coach Bobby Dickerson, first base coach Wayne Kirby, and Ben Fritz as bullpen coach. Dickerson comes from the Phillies and Kirby from the Orioles. Fritz enters his sixth season with the Padres organization and his first at the big league level.

Glenn Hoffman returns as third base coach. Skip Schumaker has been elevated to associate manager after serving as the first base coach the last two seasons. Damion Easley was promoted from assistant hitting coach to hitting coach. Rod Barajas will serve as catching and quality control coach. He was bench coach last season before being named interim manager for the last eight games after Andy Green was fired.

San Diego finished last in the NL West in 2019.

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending