Pittsburgh Pirates starter Gerrit Cole entered Monday night’s outing against the Philadelphia Phillies looking to salvage something positive from a disappointing 2016 season.
But spring training began with some bad vibes when Cole expressed disappointment over his $541,000 salary for 2016. Then came the injuries. He suffered a rib inflammation in spring training, spent time on the disabled list with a strained triceps in June and has been bothered by the elbow issue for the past month. The only positive news came during a recent trip to Los Angeles, when Dr. Neal ElAttrache ruled out any structural damage and gave him clearance to resume pitching this month.
Although the Cubs continue to build upon what is now a whopping 17-game edge on St. Louis, we know that more than anything, variance can trump all at playoff time. A mediocre Cardinals campaign would be redeemed by spoiling a Wrigleyville party 108 years in the making.
With that in mind, are there any potential pitfalls that could come into play for Chicago if the Cubs and Cardinals again hook up in October? Maybe, but we lay those out with this caveat: There aren’t many. It’s almost like this Cubs team was specifically constructed to hammer on the Cardinals.
Cole recently received clearance to resume pitching after a visit to Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles. He finishes the season with a 7-10 record in 21 starts and a 3.88 ERA — the worst of his four major-league seasons.
“There were some times where we were close,” Cole said. “There were a few highlights along the way, but it was a struggle.
“We have two weeks here to continue to try to get better. I’m not going to stop working. Just keep moving on. Obviously the mindset is different. It’s not about preparing for a start. It’s about preparing for next year. There’s work to be done, so I’ll be doing it.”
In 2015, Cole went 19-8 with a 2.60 ERA, made the All-Star team and finished fourth in National League Cy Young Award balloting.
In other moves, the Pirates called up left-hander reliever Zach Phillips from Triple-A Indianapolis. The 29-year-old Phillips was acquired from the Orioles on Aug. 31. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Pirates also put catcher Elias Diaz on the 60-day disabled list with cellulitis in his left knee.