Gerrit Cole’s arsenal change

Gerrit Cole has turned into an ace this season. He has a 1.90 ERA, 2.43 FIP, 2.54 xFIP while striking out four percent more batters and walked close to two percent less batters compared to 2014.

Last season, he posted a 3.65 ERA, 3.23 FIP, and 3.25 xFIP in 138 innings pitched with a 2.3 fWAR. That’s still good, but he has changed his arsenal in a significant way.

The 6’4 righties from UCLA threw his curveball much more than his slider and threw his four-seam much more than his sinker in 2014. This year, his curveball frequency has decreased ten percent and his slider rate has increased ten percent. His four-seam usage has decreased three percent while he’s thrown his sinker four percent more of the time in 2015 while his change-up has stayed steady around 5%.

Gerrit  Cole vs  San Francisco

Per Brooks Baseball:

2014 pitch usage, movement

2014 pitch usage, movements

 

2015 pitch usage, movements

2015 pitch usage, movements

Brandon Crawford said recently after facing Cole via Andrew Baggarly of The San Jose Mercury News:

“I don’t remember him having as much movement, especially with the upper 90s fastball. I remember there was some arm-side run in the past, usually with his 93 or 94 mph, at the lower end of his fastball. But the pitch I grounded into a double play was 98 with sink, which I don’t remember seeing from him in the past.”

Factoid: Crawford’s sister is dating Cole, so I’m sure Crawford knows him relatively well.

His sinker is 96 MPH on average, which is amazing in its self, but he’s getting groundballs on that pitch more this year (8% more). He throws this pitch on two-strike counts inside to lefties as a front door sinker. He is throwing his sinker at a 20 percent clip this year against lefties with two strikes. In 2014, he only threw it 8% of the time to lefties with two strikes.

Front door 96 MPH sinker: Not fair

Gerrit  Cole vs  San Francisco

98 MPH Sinker Crawford was talking about to get double play:
Gerrit  Cole vs  San Francisco

The biggest difference has been his switch from curveball to slider as his second pitch and also throwing that slider to lefties much more often (21 percent this year, 11 percent last year). His groundball rate on the season is a high 54.1%, five percent higher than his career average. Can credit his sinker and hard slider for that. His slider to lefties has generated over 58 percent groundballs, while also getting over 50 percent whiffs on it compared to 30 percent last year.

Cole’s command has improved every season during his young career, but this might be the year he turns into a league-wide monster on the bump.

Cole throws Sunday at 1:35 EST against Atlanta.

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