Gerrit Cole has made an immediate impact following his call-up, but will the prized rookie pitcher still be on the mound in September if the Pirates are playing meaningful baseball?
The baseball industry has managed young arms carefully in recent years, the most notable case being the Nationals' controversial decision to shut down Stephen Strasburg after their ace reached a predetermined innings limit last season despite the Nationals being in the midst of a postseason chase.
Does Cole face a similar innings cap if he remains with the Pirates?
Neal Huntington declined to answer Monday when asked if a specific innings cap for Cole exists, but the Pirates' GM indicated Cole is a considerable distance from reaching his workload limit.
“Part of our development plan is to build guys accordingly so that when they get to the big leagues, they are hopefully in a position to be able to log the innings without the media attention that some have gotten,” Huntington said. “If he ever gets to his workload limit, we'll let you know.”
Cole threw 132 minor league innings last season in his first pro campaign; the 6-foot-4, 250-pound right-hander also pitched in instructional league.
Some organizations are hesitant to raise young pitchers' workloads by more than 25 percent from year to year. The Pirates have been careful with Cole in each of his first three major league starts. He has not thrown more than 88 pitches or pitched longer than 6 1⁄3 innings.
Cole has thrown a combined 86 1⁄3 innings this season between Triple-A and the majors.
But there is a significant difference between Strasburg and Cole: Strasburg had Tommy John surgery in 2010; Cole has been healthy throughout his pro career.
Still, would the Pirates consider skipping several Cole starts or moving him to the bullpen if he was in jeopardy of reaching an innings limit?
“Each case is a unique entity,” Huntington said. “We would approach it with a well thought-out … scientifically based plan.”
Cole is 3-0 with a 3.44 ERA; he won each of his first three major league starts. He beat former Cy Young winners Tim Lincecum and Zack Greinke in his first two starts and touched 100 mph a number of times against the Angels on Friday.
Whether all of Cole's innings in 2013 are to be with the big league club remains to be seen. Cole could be a candidate to return to the minor leagues when A.J. Burnett (calf) returns to the rotation.
Said Huntington over the weekend: “There's a business component to it, as far as keeping our depth. … Gerrit's probably got the best stuff of anybody in the rotation ... (and) he's made three impressive outings. But the challenge is, if we need another starter (due to injury) later, it may make sense to send Gerrit back so we have a sixth quality starter.”
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.