Cole with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2014
|Houston Astros – No. 45|
|Born: September 8, 1990|
Newport Beach, California
|June 11, 2013, for the Pittsburgh Pirates|
|MLB statistics |
(through 2019 season)
|Earned run average||3.22|
|Career highlights and awards|
Gerrit Alan Cole (born September 8, 1990) is an American professional baseball pitcher for the Houston Astros of Major League Baseball (MLB). Cole previously pitched in MLB for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Cole played for the baseball team at Orange Lutheran High School, and was selected by the New York Yankees in the first round of the 2008 MLB Draft. Cole opted not to sign, and instead attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he played college baseball for the UCLA Bruins.
After his college baseball career, the Pirates made Cole the first overall selection in the 2011 MLB draft. Cole made his MLB debut in 2013, and was named the National League (NL) Rookie of the Month in September 2013. He was named the NL Pitcher of the Month for April 2015, and an MLB All-Star in 2015. The Pirates traded Cole to the Astros in the 2017–18 offseason.
On September 18, 2019, Cole became the 18th pitcher in major league history to strike out at least 300 batters in a season.
High school career
Cole attended Orange Lutheran High School. In his sophomore year, Cole pitched for the school's junior varsity baseball team, allowing no runs in 45 innings pitched. He gained national attention while pitching for the varsity team in his junior year, as his fastball reached 94 miles per hour (151 km/h). He reached 96 miles per hour (154 km/h) in a showcase for the best prep school talents, and close to 50 scouts attended the first game of his senior season. In his senior year, Cole pitched to an 8–2 win–loss record and a 0.47 earned run average (ERA), while also recording 121 strikeouts in 75 innings.
Cole was named to the USA Today All-USA high school baseball team. Baseball America rated him the 17th-best prospect available in the 2008 Major League Baseball draft. He was named the ESPN Rise Athlete of the Month for three consecutive months in March, April, and May 2010. He was named the starting pitcher of the 2008 Orange County North–South All-Star Game.
After his senior year, the New York Yankees selected Cole in the first round, with the 28th overall selection, of the 2008 Major League Baseball draft, becoming the first player ever drafted out of Orange Lutheran High School. The Yankees were reportedly planning on offering Cole a $4 million signing bonus, which was above the recommended amount for the slot. As the Yankees planned to give Cole a large bonus to sign, they waited until the deadline to attempt to sign him. By the time the deadline approached, Cole had decided to follow through with his commitment to attend the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) on a college baseball scholarship. Despite being represented by Scott Boras, and though the Yankees were believed to be ready to offer upwards of $4 million, Cole never negotiated with the Yankees, as he was determined to attend college.
John Savage, coach of the UCLA Bruins, made Cole the team's Friday night starting pitcher in his freshman year. That season, Cole recorded a 4–8 win–loss record with a 3.49 ERA, collecting 104 strikeouts in 85 innings. Cole was a member of the 2009 United States collegiate national baseball team and was named to the 2010 Collegiate National Team roster. He competed in the 2010 World University Baseball Championship.
During UCLA's 2010 season, Cole and Trevor Bauer contributed in making the Bruins the best baseball team (51–17 record) in school history and the second-best team in the country. Cole had an 11–4 win–loss record, a 3.37 ERA, and 153 strikeouts in 123 innings. His 153 strikeouts placed Cole third among all collegiate pitchers. The Bruins went on to play in the 2010 College World Series, but were defeated by South Carolina in the NCAA Championship Series.
Draft and minor leagues
Heading into the 2011 MLB draft, Cole, Bauer, and Danny Hultzen, also a college pitcher, were seen as among the best available talents in the draft. The Pittsburgh Pirates selected Cole with the first overall selection. He signed a minor league contract with an $8 million signing bonus, the highest signing bonus ever offered to a rookie, 15 minutes before the signing deadline on August 15, 2011. Though he signed too late to pitch in the 2011 minor league season, he pitched for the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League (AFL). He recorded 16 strikeouts in 15 innings pitched for the Solar Sox and had a 3.00 earned run average (ERA) and a 0.93 walks plus hits per inning pitched ratio (WHIP). He was selected to start the AFL Rising Stars game in November 2011.
The Pirates invited Cole to spring training in 2012 as a non-roster invitee, but they optioned him to the minor leagues. Cole started the 2012 season with the Bradenton Marauders of the Class A-Advanced Florida State League, along with fellow starting pitcher Jameson Taillon, the Pirates' first selection in the 2010 MLB draft. Cole was named a FSL Mid-Season All-Star. He was promoted to the Altoona Curve of the Class AA Eastern League on June 15, 2012. He was named to appear in the 2012 All-Star Futures Game. In twelve starts with the Curve, Cole pitched to a 2.90 ERA, before the Pirates promoted him to the Indianapolis Indians of the Class AAA International League on August 29, 2012.
Prior to the 2013 season, Cole was ranked as the ninth best prospect in baseball by MLB.com. Cole played for the Indianapolis Indians to start the 2013 season. Cole pitched to a 5–3 record and a 2.91 ERA in 12 starts for Indianapolis.
Due to injuries to James McDonald and Wandy Rodríguez, the Pirates promoted Cole to the major leagues, to make his MLB debut on June 11, 2013. During his debut, he struck out the first batter he faced, Gregor Blanco, on three pitches; the last one at 99 miles per hour (159 km/h). He also recorded his first career hit, a 2-run single with the bases loaded in his first career plate appearance. Cole pitched 6⅓ innings being charged with two earned runs but got the win as the Pirates won over the San Francisco Giants, 8–2. Cole became the fourth pitcher since 1920 to drive in 2+ runs and earn the win in his Major League debut. Cole is the first Pirate to start his career with wins in his first four starts since Nick Maddox in 1907. He was the fifth pitcher for any team to accomplish the feat in the past 40 years, joining Rich Gale of the 1978 Royals, Kaz Ishii of the 2002 Dodgers, Jered Weaver of the 2006 Angels and Scott Lewis of the 2008 Indians.
Cole was voted the National League (NL) Rookie of the Month for September 2013. On the month, Cole had a 4–0 record and led all rookies with a 1.69 ERA and 39 strikeouts. Cole had a 10–7 record and a 3.22 ERA in 19 starts for Pittsburgh in 2013. Cole started Game Two of the 2013 National League Division Series, going six innings allowing two hits, one earned run, and five strikeouts, and ultimately defeating the St. Louis Cardinals. The Pirates chose Cole to start the deciding Game 5 over A. J. Burnett. The Cardinals won the game, and the series.
After focusing on his fastball during his rookie season, Cole entered 2014 spring training working on improving his curveball and slider. Cole has been a durable pitcher in 2014 pitching 75 1/3 innings, but manager Clint Hurdle acknowledged on June 7 that Cole would miss at least one start with shoulder fatigue. Cole was placed on the 15-day disabled list the next day, and activated on June 28.
On September 7, 2014, Cole hit his first career home run at Wrigley Field off of Chicago Cubs pitcher Blake Parker. On September 23, Cole helped the Pirates clinch a second consecutive playoff berth by beating Alex Wood and the Atlanta Braves.
Cole won the NL Pitcher of the Month Award for April 2015, after going 4–0 with a 1.76 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 30 2⁄3 innings pitched for the month. He was the Pirates' choice to start the 2015 National League Wild Card Game against the Chicago Cubs but took the loss after giving up four earned runs on six hits and a walk in five innings pitched.
In 2017 Cole was 12-12 with a 4.26 ERA, as he led the National League with 33 starts.
The Pirates and Cole reached agreement in January 2018 on a one-year, $6.75 million contract.
Houston Astros (2018-present)
On April 29, 2018, Cole struck out 12 hitters in a game against the Oakland Athletics that resulted in a no-decision but an Astros win. In doing so, Cole broke the Astros strikeout record for April with 61 strikeouts in the first month. He finished his first month in an Astros uniform going 2–1 with 61 strikeouts and a 1.73 ERA in 41.2 innings pitched.  On May 4, against the Arizona Diamondbacks Cole struck out 16, allowed only one hit, and pitched his first career shutout as the Astros won 8–0.
Cole was elected to his first American League All-Star appearance (2nd overall). Cole did not appear in the game but finished the first half of the season with a 10-2 record with a 2.52 ERA and 177 strikeouts. He finished the season with 278 strikeouts, a new career high and good for second most in the American League behind teammate Justin Verlander, a 15-5 record, and a 2.88 ERA, his best since the 2015 season. He led the majors in strikeouts per 9 innings (12.40). In Game 2 of the 2018 American League Division Series against the Cleveland Indians, Cole struck out 12 and walked none in seven innings in a 3-1 victory. Cole became the second pitcher to strikeout at least 12 hitters with no walks in the postseason, after Tom Seaver in the 1973 National League Championship Series.
On September 8, 2019, his 29th birthday, Cole became the second pitcher ever to strike out 14 or more hitters in three consecutive games. On September 18, 2019, Cole struck out his 300th batter of the season, becoming only the third Astros pitcher to strike out 300 batters in a single season, after J. R. Richard and Mike Scott. Cole became the second-fastest pitcher to register 300 strikeouts in terms of innings pitched. His 198 1⁄3 innings trails only Randy Johnson, who achieved the feat in 197 2⁄3 innings in 2001. The following start, September 24, 2019, Cole struck out 14 batters to break the single-season strikeout record for any Astros pitcher, bringing his total to 316 on the year, tying the MLB record for consecutive starts of at least 10 strikeouts with eight, and allowing only two singles in his appearance of seven scoreless innings.
Cole’s performance in since February 2018 and through the 2019 season was markedly different from his earlier seasons, due to intervention by the Astros management and coaching staff. Cole vastly reduced the number of two-seam fastballs he threw, threw more into the top of the strike zone, and increased the spin rate of his fastball.
Cole finished the 2019 season with a 20–5 record, 2.50 ERA, 326 strikeouts (leading the major leagues), the best strikeout percentage in the major leagues (39.9%), led the majors with 13.818 strikeouts per nine innings, and a 0.895 WHIP.
Cole is a power pitcher who features a four-seam and two-seam fastball that he regularly throws between 94 to 98 miles per hour (151–158 km/h), but has been clocked as high as 102 miles per hour (164 km/h) in college. He also throws a slider, knuckle curve and a changeup. Between 2017 and 2018, due to his increased spin rate and a more complete arm deceleration and follow-through, his fastball got a lower WHIP, and has used less of his sinker. Like Pedro Martinez, he throws from a low three-quarters position.  In the first round of 2019 ALDS, his strikeout pitches were high fastballs, sliders and knuckle curve that are down and away from right-handed batters.
Cole is the elder of Mark and Sharon Cole's two children. He has one younger sister, Erin. Cole grew up as a fan of the New York Yankees, as his father – raised in Syracuse, New York – passed down his affinity for the Yankees to his son. He admires Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig and retired pitcher Mariano Rivera, both Yankees legends. Cole attended the 2001 World Series, of which the Yankees took part.
- Houston Astros award winners and league leaders
- List of Major League Baseball annual shutout leaders
- List of Major League Baseball career WHIP leaders
- List of people from Newport Beach, California
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