Yankees' Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodon and Luis Severino each throw two-inning sim games
TAMPA, Fla. — Gerrit Cole was impressed with what he saw from two of the pitchers expected to follow him in the rotation, as well as a reliever again expected to be a key bullpen piece.
Aaron Boone liked all of what he saw from them but Cole especially.
With the Grapefruit League season slated to start Saturday in Clearwater, the Yankees continue to gradually build up pitcher workloads, and arguably their top three starters took the mound together Wednesday for simulated games.
Cole, Carlos Rodon and Luis Severino each threw two-inning sim games — which included a Triple-A umpire calling balls and strikes and keeping track of the pitch clock that will be used this season.
Reliever Michael King also threw with that group at Steinbrenner Field.
As a bonus for fans in the seats, the four pitchers on the main field faced some of the biggest bats in the clubhouse — among them Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, DJ LeMahieu, Anthony Rizzo, Josh Donaldson and Gleyber Torres.
“Good to see those guys,” Boone said of Cole, Rodon and Severino. “Thought Gerrit was really sharp. I thought Carlos kind of grinded through his pitches well, executed a lot of pitches. Thought Sevy was really sharp, too, stuff-wise. Good for those guys to get their pitch counts built up. Another good step but Gerrit leading it off was really sharp.”
Cole, coming off a season in which he struck out a single-season franchise record 257 batters but also allowed an American League-high 33 homers, said his focus was “fastball command,” something he overall was pleased with.
“I think it was pretty good,” Cole said. “The guys [hitters] said the stuff looked pretty good; fastballs had good identity.”
The top arms drew some of the club’s top brass, with general manager Brian Cashman watching from the home dugout that was fuller than it usually would be for a series of simulated games this early. The player-and-staff gathering included two former GMs Cashman brought in over the winter in yet-to-be-fully-defined advisory roles with the club — former Mets GM Omar Minaya and former Giants GM Brian Sabean, a three-time World Series winner.
Pitching coach Matt Blake, who along with Boone and a handful of other staffers took in the afternoon from behind the protective screen situated behind the pitching mound, said seeing the trio of pitchers firing away at quality hitters gave him a jolt in thinking about what’s to come.
“I think any time you get that level of talent together back-to-back-to-back, you should be excited about what’s to come this season,” Blake said. “Obviously, today was Step 1 in getting those guys out there. I think it’s good for them to see each other and push each other, too.
“I think there’s a camaraderie building amongst that group and I think that’s the biggest thing when we were rolling last year, all the starters were taking their turn and pushing each other. It’s good for these guys to be there and support each other.”
Cole, a pitching junkie who will often hang out in the bullpens at Steinbrenner Field watching other pitchers’ side sessions, kept an eye Wednesday on every pitcher, including King, whose season ended late last July with an elbow fracture.
“I really liked the way everybody looks,” Cole said. “Sevy looks fresh, got some like ‘wild horse’ characteristics to him; he’s got a lot of horsepower right now. I thought his second inning was really good. He fired off four or five fastballs in a row to Giancarlo.”
The DH/outfielder took note of those fastballs.
“He was throwing darts,” Stanton said of Severino, who can become a free agent after the season. “He looked really good. I liked the life on the fastball.”
As Cole said, he liked everyone.
“I think Carlos looks really good, especially from the feedback from everybody else,” Cole continued. “He’s just settling into his velocity, but his stuff looks really good. And Mike King continues to amaze me. It’s a pretty remarkable recovery. So that’s pretty special.”