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Entries in Gerrit Cole (5)

Sunday
Jul282013

Cole, Fernandez Getting Outs, if not Whiffs, with Blazing Fastballs

Catchers on both clubs will ice sore hands this afternoon, as Pittsburgh's Gerrit Cole squares off against Miami's Jose Fernandez. Cole is tied with the Mets' Matt Harvey for the highest average fastball velocity (95.4 MPH) among starting pitchers, while Fernandez (94.6 MPH) also ranks in the top 10. You might think such premium gas would lead to lots of swings and misses, but you'd be wrong. Both hard-throwing rookies are attacking hitters with their fastballs, posting modest whiff totals with the pitch but beating batters nonetheless.

Cole (14.5% fastball miss rate) and Fernandez (14.4%) have nearly identical fastball whiff rates that are below the major league average for starters (15.1%). Yet, Cole and Fernandez sit near the top of the charts when it comes to limiting hard fastball contact.

Lowest opponent fastball slugging percentage among starting pitchers, 2013 (Min. 500 fastballs thrown)

How have Cole and Fernandez been so successful with their fastballs despite such modest whiff rates? They're pumping fastballs over the plate, challenging hitters to take their best shot against their high-speed heaters.

Cole's fastball location, 2013

Fernandez's fastball location, 2013

Cole has located 57% of his fastballs within the strike zone, tied with Clayton Kershaw for fifth-highest among National League starters and well north of the 53% MLB average in 2013. Fernandez has been similarly aggressive, throwing 56% of his fastballs in the strike zone. With heat like this, why nibble?

The battle between batter and pitcher can be a complex game of percentages, but sometimes, it's brutally simple. Cole and Fernandez don't think anyone can touch their searing fastballs. So far, they're right.

Thursday
Jun132013

Cole's Fastball Lethal in MLB Debut

With three near-triple-digit fastballs that stung Russell Martin's hand and Gregor Blanco's ego, Gerrit Cole announced his arrival as baseball's new velocity king. The first overall pick in the 2011 draft shut down the Giants during his MLB debut Tuesday night, allowing two runs in 6.1 innings pitched and even driving in a pair of runs off Tim Lincecum. Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage wanted Cole to take a simple approach, and the 22-year-old did by pumping fastball after fastball. The results? Simply dominant. Here's more on Cole's lethal fastball.

  • Cole had little need for his secondary stuff, throwing 65 fastballs out of 81 total pitches (80.2%). His heater averaged 96.1 MPH and topped out at 99.4 MPH. For comparison's sake, Stephen Strasburg (average fastball speed of 95.4 MPH) throws the hardest among qualified starting pitchers. Cole's nearly 100 MPH pitch to Gregor Blanco in the first inning was the fastest thrown by a starter in the majors this season, just beating out Justin Verlander, Wily Peralta (99.3 MPH), Strasburg (99.1 MPH) and Matt Harvey (99 MPH).
  • He retained that fastball zip deep into his start. Cole threw his fastball at an average speed of 97.2 MPH in the first inning, 96.1 MPH in the second, 95.6 in the third, 95.3 MPH in the fourth, jumped back up to 96.7 MPH in the fifth and then sat at 95.4 MPH in the sixth and 96.3 MPH in the seventh. His last fastball of the night was 97 MPH.
  • When you've got a fastball like Cole's, why nibble? He threw 45 of his 65 fastballs (69.2%) over the plate. Cole also pounded hitters at the knees, throwing nearly half (47.7%) of his gas in the lower third of the strike zone.

Cole's fastball location on June 11, 2013

  • Giants hitters missed seven of the 34 fastballs (20.6%) that they swung at, comfortably above the 14.7% MLB average for starting pitchers.
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