Trading (SP)Aces: Gerrit Cole

I don’t really want to talk home improvement. In fact I’m really not that handy at all. When my charming wife says “But you’re so good at fixing things”, I’m certain it’s just a ruse. Does it work? Absolutely, but I wouldn’t expect the same adulation from you. You’re welcome to try though!!

In this series I’m going to look at SP Aces and decide what other Top Arms I would trade them for.  While Jim Finch compares players in his Mortal Kombat Series, I don’t want anyone getting hurt here. Funny, I say that during all of my home improvement jobs too.

To start this series, I’m going to look at one of my favorite arms to target in 2014: Gerrit Cole. He’ll be easy to spot in the following table of 2013 results.

THE TRADE!

Pitcher ERA GS IP K/9 BB/9 GB% FB% HR/FB xFIP
A 3.22 19 117 7.7 2.1 49 26 8.1 3.14
B 3.60 33 220 8.3 2.1 43 37 9.1 3.44
C 3.46 34 218 9.0 3.1 38 39 7.8 3.67

Player A is Cole. The two arms I’m considering trading for Cole are (B) Cole Hamels and (C) Justin Verlander

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Let’s take a look a closer look at Gerrit Cole as the other two are well-established.

The Arsenal:

Cole throws a four-seamer at 96-100 and a two-seam sinker at 94-98. He commands both pitches incredibly well. You don’t often think of a power arm as a sinker ball/ground ball guy, but that’s what Cole does. Both of these pitches are plus plus offerings.

Cole also throws a curveball at 84 , a slider at 90 and a change-up at 88. Both the curve and slider are swing and miss pitches that both right-handers and left-handers have trouble with. This is where he gets his strikeouts from. The change isn’t thrown a lot by Cole.

Everything looks easy for Cole on the mound. He repeats well and he fits the mold of an ace with both his stuff and his command.

The Numbers:

With a 3.14 xFIP, nearly 8K/9 and just over 2BB/9, Cole had an outstanding rookie campaign.

In September, Cole’s last 5 starts of the season, he started throwing his FB less and his curve more with remarkable results.

DATES IP H ER BB K ERA WHIP
JUN-JUL-AUG 91 90 38 19 66 3.74 1.23
SEPT 32 21 5 10 39 1.41 0.97

Small sample notwithstanding, Cole made real adjustments in September. His sinker usage went down from 23-16% while his curveball increased from 10-18%. With those changes his K rate went from 6.5 in his first 3 months to 11% in September.

Conclusion:

Unless you are an opposing hitter, there is no reason to be afraid of Gerrit Cole. He is an ace by every definition. While he has only a small sample of major league history to support this claim, he’s the #1 draft choice from 2011, with the repertoire, control and mound presence to continue dominating at the highest level. His minor league numbers suggest there may be some control issues that crop up from time to time.

Let’s take a look at what to expect in 2014 for Gerrit Cole:

Projections are from Dan Schwartz at Rotobanter.com. We’re going to feature his projections at Fantasy Assembly, because quite honestly, they’re the best I’ve seen anywhere. For more info on how the projections are done click here.

RotoBanter 2014 Projections 5X5
GS IP K/9 BB/9 GB FB HR/FB xFIP W ERA WHIP K
30 190 7.9 2.7 49 27 9.7 3.21 13 3.54 1.24 167

 

Trade Offer: Cole Hamels for Gerrit Cole.

In our first mock draft of 2014, Cole Hamels was selected in the 6th round, pick 72 by Nabae Asfar of Fake Teams. Gerrit Cole was selected in the 8th round, pick 92 by yours truly. This was a mock for 2014 only, and while their name brands might suggest a large gap, it isn’t overly significant.

Hamels will be 30 years old entering 2014 with 8 seasons under his belt. Here’s his career numbers:

Career 3.38 245 1597 8.5 2.2 43 37 11.2 3.40
2013 3.60 33 220 8.3 2.1 43 37 9.1 3.44

In 2013, Cole Hamels had what one might consider a down year. Aside from his W/L record he really did more of what he always does. He produces a good K rate while walking few players. What misfortune he had (LOB) he made up with good fortune (HR/FB). While he’ll likely win more than 8 games in 2014, expecting an improvement in his ratios isn’t something I’d forecast. He’s a very good pitcher, arguably a top 10-15 SP in baseball. While Hamels was the 30th highest scoring pitcher in one of my leagues last year, with 7 more wins, he gets to 13.

Let’s look at what to expect from Cole Hamels in 2014:

Rotobanter 2014 Projections 5×5
GS IP K/9 BB/9 GB FB HR/FB xFIP W ERA WHIP K
31 208 8.2 2.1 42 39 9.9 3.00 13 3.49 1.18 190

As you can see, Hamels is forecasted for 23 more K in 18 extra IP, but the other numbers are nearly identical. For 2014, Hamels is the safer play though. In a keeper league I’m swapping the 30-year-old for the 22-year-old flame-thrower. A year from now, if Cole beats his projections by 10% resulting in equal IP this trade will never be offered.

Cole Hamels FOR Gerrit Cole? (redraft) NO

Cole Hamels FOR Gerrit Cole? (keeper/dynasty) YES

 

Trade Offer: Justin Verlander for Gerrit Cole.

Verlander was picked in the 6th round as well in our early mock draft, pick 63 by our own Peter Waterman.

Like Hamels, Verlander has 8 seasons played and he’ll enter the 2014 season at age 31.

Career 3.41 266 1772 8.5 2.8 40 40 7.9 3.72
2013 3.46 34 218 9.0 3.1 38 39 7.8 3.67

Again, not a lot of variance here. While Verlander was exceptional insane in 2011 and 2012, his 2013 doesn’t stand out as outlandish. His fastball took a little hit averaging 94mph in 2013. It was 95mph in 2012 and 96 previously. Verlander did have a great September and playoffs last year.

Let’s look at what to expect from Justin Verlander in 2014

Rotobanter 2014 Projections 5×5
GS IP K/9 BB/9 GB% FB% HR/FB% xFIP W ERA WHIP K
32 203 8.6 2.9 39 39 8.4 3.11 15 3.62 1.22 194

I absolutely love this projection. While Verlander should put up a couple more wins than Cole and some extra strikeouts, Cole will likely edge him in ERA. All of the concerns about Verlander right through to August last year were seemingly erased with his dominant playoff performances, but there is risk here too. For 2014 I’m taking Cole. In keepers it’s not even a question for me with the innings Verlander has on his arm. It’s just like trading in for the newer model.

Justin Verlander FOR Gerrit Cole? (redraft) YES

Justin Verlander FOR Gerrit Cole? (keeper/dynasty) YES

 

While Gerrit Cole doesn’t project to beat either Verlander or Hamels in 2014, you will not lose much value in 2014 by making this trade. Long-term you will win, potentially HUGE. You don’t win fantasy baseball titles without being ahead of your competition. The window to acquire Gerrit Cole is still slightly open; do not miss out. The beauty of it is that you should get more than Cole for either of those arms right now. Cole plus a draft pick and I’m jumping. You should do the same.

 

Special Thanks to Dan Schwartz from RotoBanter.

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Paul Hartman

Written by 

Fantasy Baseball player since 1987. Creator of Fantasy Assembly, yet just fortunate enough to be a part of it.

2 thoughts on “Trading (SP)Aces: Gerrit Cole”

  1. Nice Paul. I will surely be targeting Cole as an SP 2 this year. He is yet another example of why it is a good idea to wait on pitching in most formats.

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