Diamondbacks at Pirates: 5 Players To Watch

By Joseph Jacquez
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Aug 7, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) delivers a pitch against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the second inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Gerrit Cole

Former UCLA standout and current Pirates ace Cole will take the mound tonight for the Pirates in Game 1 opposite Jeremy Hellickson for the Snakes.

In 23 starts across 148.2 innings pitched he is 14-6 with a 2.48 ERA, a 2.67 FIP, and a very respectable 1.12 WHIP.

Cole has finally developed into the pitcher that most scouts and people in the baseball industry thought he would be.

All of his in 2015 as compared to 2014 have improved.

Cole’s K% (K/PA) has gone up from 24.2% in 2014, to 24.8%. While that isn’t a dramatic increase, he has combined that with a big improvement in his BB% (BB/PA) from 7.0% to 5.7%.

Cole doesn’t allow many base runners. Left-handed batters are hitting just .226 in 72.1 innings, and right-handed batters are hitting just .250 in 76.1 innings.

He has much better against lefties this season, something he has struggled with in previous years. His K% vs. lefties is 3 points higher at 26.2%, his WHIP is 6 points lower at 1.09, and his FIP is lower at 2.58.

Granted, Cole has allowed a pretty high BABIP of .313, but he has stranded opposing hitters 76.5% of the time, and his ground ball rate is at a career high 50.4%.

When batters hit it on the ground against the Pirates’ ace, he tends to generate soft contact (18.9%). Combine that with his 0.48 HR/9, and his 7.3 HR/FB%, and it’s going to be hard to do a whole lot against him when he is on.

When the D’backs face Cole tonight, watch for how much he uses his slider, and how hitters approach it.

It’s one of the best pitches in baseball. Hitters are batting just .173 against that pitch, and according to Brooks Baseball, when he faced the Diamondbacks on April 24th, he used it 31 times, which is the most against any team he has faced in 2015.

It’s going to be tough to win Game 1. Prepare yourself for that.