BUFFALO – Much like his teammates, Gerrit Cole needs to get it going.
And, like them, sooner rather than later.
The ace righthander, signed to a record nine-year, $324 million deal over the winter, while plenty of times this season flashing the stuff that made him the most sought after free agent on the market, nonetheless has been slightly disappointing, 4-3 with a 3.68 ERA.
That includes a rough four-game stretch he brings into Thursday night’s start against the Orioles – 0-3 with a 4.76 ERA, a span in which he’s allowed eight of the league-leading 13 homers he’s given up this season. It is not a coincidence the Yankees’ 5-15 slide they brought into Wednesday night has corresponded with Cole’s struggles (though it must be pointed out the pitcher remains fairly low on the list of culprits).
And with Tuesday’s loss, the Yankees, almost everyone’s preseason pick to represent the AL in the World Series, fell to .500 at 21-21.
“Certainly, that's not the expectation going in, no," Cole said Wednesday of the .500 mark but who easily could have been talking about his season so far. “I see a team that's struggling. I see a team that's fighting hard to get out of this struggle."
James Paxton, on the inured list since Aug. 21 with a left flexor strain, was thought to be a sure thing to return before the end of the regular season but manager Aaron Boone hedged a bit on that Wednesday.
“I think there’s a chance he can be back in the regular season on some level,” Boone said. “That’s the hope.”
Paxton has been throwing – and did again Wednesday – but has not yet thrown off a mound, something Boone said could occur this weekend, though he added it could be a bit later than that.
Aaron Judge (right calf strain) and Giancarlo Stanton (left hamstring strain) again worked out at the Stadium Wednesday. Stanton, whom Boone said was running
at about 80% last week, ran the bases while Judge advanced in his running to the point of changing directions. There remains no timetable for either’s return.
“They’re definitely doing well and getting closer,” Boone said.