Gerrit Cole could be back on the mound for the resurgent Pittsburgh Pirates soon. That could happen as soon as this weekend, and if not then, it should still be sometime in the near future.
Pittsburgh’s young ace threw a simulated game on Monday, and if the early returns are any indication, the development could have him on pace to return to the mound Saturday against the New York Mets.
Manager Clint Hurdle had the following to say about Cole’s progress (quotes from MLB.com):
“I thought it went very well,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “The volume of work — six ups, 84 pitches. Threw his two-seamer, his four-seamer, his curveball — probably more than his slider — his changeup was good, the finish to his fastball was firm and solid.
“We’ll see how he feels tomorrow, but I thought it was a very good next challenge that, from at least the perspective of today, he was able to meet and do well with.”
The Pirates will wait to announce anything official until they know Cole has not experienced any setbacks or side effects after this step in his rehab. That caution makes sense considering the fact that Cole is only barely 23 years old. Before hitting the disabled list Cole was pitching quite well in 2014: through 12 starts he is 6-3 with a 3.64 ERA, 3.82 FIP, and a solid 8.1 K/9 mark.
To have Cole return could jolt even more excitement into a team that has already been energized by the solid play of Gregory Polanco and the return of Starling Marte’s production, among other things. The Pirates looked down to start the season, but they should not be counted out. Cole is hoping to be a big reason why.
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