Major League Baseball's crackdown on pitchers using foreign substances on the mound has had a fairly dramatic effect across the sport with strikeouts down and scoring up. Some pitchers are seeing their spin rates decrease dramatically – perhaps the most notable pitcher being Yankees right-hander Gerrit Cole. Despite some obvious warning signs over the past month, William Hill Sportsbook still lists him as the heavy -175 favorite to win the AL Cy Young Award. Should that be the case?
Cole is 8-4 with a 2.66 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and 129 strikeouts in 101.2 innings. Very nice numbers. However, he was roughed up for six runs on eight hits, including three homers, over five innings in Sunday's loss in Boston as New York was swept by its rival. This month, Cole's ERA is 4.65, and he has allowed nine homers.
That ERA is his worst in a month since 2017 while with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The three homers allowed tied a career worst, and he had never allowed two previously in the first inning of a game. It was only the eighth time in Cole's 220 career starts that he allowed at least six runs and first with the Yankees.
Just for a point of comparison. In six April starts, Cole had an ERA of 1.43 and one home run allowed. In five May starts, his ERA was 2.18 with four homers given up. MLB wasn't cracking down on foreign substances then. His strikeout per nine innings total was 14.8 batters in April and 9.6 in May. It's 9.3 in June. Cole's average spin rate in June starts was 2,398 rpm, his lowest since July 2018. He was checked by the umps for any substances in Sunday's game, which turned up nothing.
One reason that Cole, who is on a $324 million contract, remains the Cy Young favorite – he still has yet to win the award – is because no one else is truly standing out in the American League and guys like Cleveland's Shane Bieber (2020 winner; +1400) and Tampa Bay's Tyler Glasnow (+3500) are hurt. Cole is next scheduled to take the mound Friday at home vs. the New York Mets – sadly, not against NL Cy Young favorite Jacob deGrom (-450).
Two White Sox starters, Carlos Rodon (+400) and Lance Lynn (+600), are second and third on the AL Cy Young odds. Rodon is 6-3 with a 2.06 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and 113 strikeouts – plus a no-hitter. Lynn is 7-3 with a 2.06 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 90 strikeouts.
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