Stats corner: Cole's K rate among September elite
By David Golebiewski
Published: Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013, 10:30 p.m.
In a few short months, Gerrit Cole has evolved from a raw, fastball-dependent talent into a burgeoning ace capable of vanquishing hitters multiple ways. The first pick in the 2011 draft has arguably been the game's top starting pitcher in September, compiling a 1.69 ERA and striking out 39 batters in 32 innings while helping the Pirates clinch their first postseason appearance since 1992.
While Cole's superb stuff didn't initially translate into lots of swings and misses — he punched out just 4.1 hitters per nine innings in June — he has racked up Ks like few other rookie starting pitchers ever have during the final month of the regular season. With 11 strikeouts per nine frames, Cole has the best September K rate for a rookie starter this side of Doc Gooden and Bob Feller:
Gerrit Cole ranks among top rookie September K artists (min. 30 IP)
Pitcher Year K/9
Dwight Gooden 1984 13.3
Bob Feller 1936 11.3
Gerrit Cole 2013 11.0
Cole Hamels 2005 10.9
Bobby Witt 1986 10.9
Cole boasts the second-best September strikeout rate among starters in franchise history (Oliver Perez had 11.1 K/9 in 2004) because he's mixing in more breaking pitches. Rather than firing near-triple-digit heat almost exclusively, Cole has thrown his curveball and slider a combined 32.2 percent of the time in September. He's inducing whiffs with his curve more than twice as often as the MLB average this month, and his slider is also missing bats at an above-average clip.
Curve SliderMonth Whiff Pct. Whiff Pct.
June 4.5 0
July 22 14.9
August 17 14.6
September 27.2 16.4
MLB Avg. 11.6 13.6
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