The date is October 10th, 2019. Gerrit Cole steps onto the mound at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas for Game 5 of the American League Division Series. Cole’s mission is to defeat Tyler Glasnow and the Tampa Bay Rays. The reward for a victory is the opportunity to face the New York Yankees in the ALCS.
Tonight, Gerrit Cole finds himself in an strangely similar situation. It is October 9th. Cole is set to face Glasnow and the Rays in a decisive Game 5 once again. The result of a victory, however, will be exactly the reverse of what the result was a year ago. Tonight, Gerrit Cole can send his new team, the Bronx Bombers, into the ALCS for a matchup with the ace’s old squad, the hated Houston Astros.
It’s an eerie reversal that perfectly encapsulates the oddities of 2020 baseball.
Gerrit’s Last Game 5
The final line from Cole’s decisive matchup with the Rays in 2019 was excellent.
8 Innings Pitched
1 Earned Run
After allowing a solo home run to Eric Sogard at the start of the 2nd Inning, Cole smothered the Tampa Bay hitters. Not a single Rays player reached second base after the Sogard dinger. Cole’s 107-pitch effort was masterful, and it put his team in a prime position to win.
I wanted to face the Rays in the 2019 ALCS. The Astros, with Cole leading the way, were a fearsome adversary. At the time, I took Gerrit Cole’s performance in Game 5 of the 2019 ALDS as a harbinger of bad things to come. Now that performance makes me feel entirely different. It gives me confidence going into tonight’s do-or-die contest.
All Systems Go
The Yankees are 5-0 in Gerrit Cole’s last five starts. In those five appearances Cole has thrown 34 innings and surrendered just 7 earned runs (1.85 ERA). He’s pitching exactly the way he did during his magical run in 2019, exactly the way Yankee fans thought he would pitch when he signed with New York last December. He’s pitching like an ace.
For Gerrit Cole, it’s all systems go. A strong performance tonight, a Yankees win tonight, and he’ll earn the undying love of the Bronx faithful. Cole’s been in this position before. He knows what it takes to win. Game 5 is Gerrit Cole’s game.