The Astros have turned up the heat in the Hot Stove season; making a huge splash today by adding another strong arm to their rotation: Gerrit Cole. Cole adds an immediate improvement to an already championship-caliber roster and rotation. Sources are currently stating that the Astros will send third baseman Colin Moran, outfielder Jason Martin along with pitchers Michael Feliz and Joe Musgrove to Pittsburg in the trade.
Cole finished the 2017 season with a 12-12 record in 33 starts with the Pirates. His ERA was 4.26 last season, the highest of his 5-year run with Pittsburg. He also allowed 31 home runs last year, a high number compared to his yearly averages.
Cole’s most reason playoff appearance was in the NL Wild Card game in 2015 where he was tagged with the loss after allowing 4 runs in five innings to the Cubs. He also started two NLDS games in his 2013 rookie season, splitting those starts to go 1-1, the loss coming in the decisive Game 5 versus the Cardinals.
However, Cole has tremendous upside and is a lot better than last season’s numbers, as evidenced by his 2015 season. In 2015, he finished fourth in Cy Young voting after a 19-8 season with 2.60 ERA and 202 strikeouts in 208 innings pitched. The Astros pitching coaches led by Brent Strom have shown they can get the best out of pitchers so this move can pay off huge if they can get him back to 2015 form or better.
This move unquestionably gives an immediate upgrade to the Astros’ rotation, something they will desperately need considering some of their biggest foes in the AL have made moves this offseason to improve their offense. The move does somewhat improve the bullpen by potentially moving Brad Peacock there, though it sounds like the Astros did give up two bullpen pieces in Feliz and Musgrove in the trade.
Projected 2018 Astros Starting Rotation:
That rotation, paired with the already potent Astros offense, sets Houston up for another deep run in 2018, and they didn’t even have to trade any “untouchable” players to do it.