Cole is far and away the most interesting player in the free agent class. Typically, free agent pitching acquisitions have been a let down. These so called aces get paid for their production in their prime, then lose a step with once their velocity regresses.
However, Houston products are different. It is clear that the Astros know more about pitching than the rest of the league. The Astros find physically talented pitchers and turn them into Cy Young candidates. Their analytics department is well regarded as the best in the MLB. The Astros have taught their pitchers about sequencing and pitch usage, which is elevating their game. That is important because it means that they can take these lessons with them should they choose to move on.
Houston made Gerrit Cole a wrecking ball
Cole showed the ability to be an ace with the Pirates but lacked consistency. Since his move to Houston, Cole has been nothing short of fantastic. In his five seasons with the Pirates Cole had a respectable 3.50 ERA. His ERA in Houston is a stellar 2.68 after taking home the ERA title in 2019. Here are some numbers worth mentioning:
|Pittsburgh (13-17)||Houston (18-19)|
In 2019 Cole made his case for a Cy Young, going 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA. He led Major League Baseball in strikeouts with 326 in 212.1 IP. Cole also led the league in ERA+ (185), FIP (2.64), and SO/9 (13.8). He applied the Astros pitching philosophy and was able to see immediate results.
Paving the Way for Gerrit Cole
We have seen players move on from Houston and have success. Charlie Morton finished a phenomenal 2019 with a 16-6 record and a 3.05 ERA in 194.2 IP. He had 240 strikeouts and was named to the All-Star game at 35-years-old. Dallas Keuchel continued to be slightly above average, but he was never made to be an Astro, a full article on that will be coming shortly.
Cole has been a much better prototype for the Astros to mold. He should continue to outperform Morton, who will receive Cy Young votes for his performance this season. Cole could become the best free-agent pitcher signing in recent memory at only 29-years-old.