With Opening Day less than a month away, I’ve been taking a hard look at this New York Yankees team and pointing out players who might have a big year. Among those is Luke Voit, but arguably no one has more upside than ace Gerrit Cole in 2021.
It’s hard to have much upside when you’re already the ace of the rotation, but Cole has everything he needs to put up blockbuster numbers this season.
Cole’s 2020 season was quietly good in the shortened season. Now, it wasn’t quite the “Gerrit Cole” type of year Yankee fans expected. But less games along with possible first-year in pinstripes jitters definitely played its part. Nevertheless, it was still a top-of-the-league type of year for Cole.
In 2020, Cole went 7-3 through 12 starts with a 2.84 ERA. He pitched two complete games, one of them a shutout. His 11.6 strikeouts per nine innings is the third-best of his career, and he was the only consistent thing the Yankees rotation had all year.
The only negative part of Cole’s season was the home runs. He gave up 14 in 12 starts, which is something he needs to fix. He gave up another 29 in 2019, so it’s not like this is a first for him.
At the end of the day, Cole finished 4th in AL Cy Young voting in 2020. So while Yankee fans may not have been fully satisfied with his performance, he was still one of the best pitchers in the American League.
With his rookie year behind him the Cole Train should be at full speed. A full 162-game season in 2021 will only make it easier for him .
All Signs Pointing Towards Big 2021 Campaign
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This will be our first full-look at Cole in Yankee pinstripes. Considering everything that last season brought in terms of obstacles… Cole did fine. COVID-19 impacted the league heavily early in the season, and Cole didn’t have a full “Bronx Zoo” in Yankee Stadium rooting for him.
Auspiciously, the MLB confirmed there will be fans in some capacity in stadiums this season, and Cole will yet again headline a new-look Yanks rotation.
In this new-look rotation is his longtime friend Jameson Taillon. Taillon is a player to keep an eye on this season. He has phenomenal upside and is surrounded by a winning locker room for the first time in his career. Cole will love having his good friend by his side all year.
Don’t forget that Cole also has arguably the best lineup he’s ever had behind him. His Houston teams were great, but it’s fair to say that when fully healthy, the Yankees lineup is one of the best in baseball.
The high -scoring lineup behind Cole will allow him to get comfortable early on in games and let loose. He led the sport in strikeouts in 2019, his last full year. There’s zero reason why he can’t do that again in 2021.
If he stops giving up so many home runs, don’t be surprised to see him pace the AL in ERA too.
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It doesn’t take much to say the Yankees’ best pitcher and arguably best player will have a big year. That should be a given. But for the fans that weren’t pleased with his limited 2020 season performance, this should be a confidence boost.
Cole and the entire team are amped to make another playoff appearance in 2021, and hopefully make the World Series for the first time in over a decade.
After finishing in the top five in Cy Young voting each of the last three seasons, I expect Cole to take off in 2021 and remind everyone why the Yankees made him their ace.
Don’t be surprised to see the Cole Train win his first career Cy Young in 2021.
Lifelong sports fan fulfilling a childhood dream. I’ll talk sports all day. Passion and hot takes are my thing… there’s always a story. Yankees. NY Giants. Knicks. Texas Longhorns. Yes… being a Knicks fan is rough, but my time will come (hopefully). Senior at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.