(BaseballStL) --- Gerrit Cole probably never pitched in any games quite like this when he was at UCLA. The 23-year old rookie will take the ball in Game 2 of the NLDS Friday afternoon either trying to give his Pirates a commanding 2-0 series lead or attempting to salvage a split before returning to Pittsburgh.
Either way, he knows he has a lot of work cut out for him.
“It’s going to be unbelievable. I don’t have much experience to draw on,” Cole said prior to Thursday’s Game 1 at Busch Stadium. “It’s a big game. It’s going to be tough for both sides but it’s a similar situation from when I came up. They’ve been doing it for a long time. It’s all been new for me. That’s why I try not to take a break and stay focused and keep things as simple as I can. That will give us the best chance to win.”
Cole adds that there really is no advantage either way since he’s never faced the Cardinals and the Cardinals have never seen him.
“I have no idea. They’re just great hitters. It doesn’t matter if you’ve seen them or not, anything can happen. I don’t think it’s an advantage either way. It’s playoff baseball. Anything goes,” Cole said.
The former number one overall pick was effective when he was first promoted to the Major Leagues in June. He was 4-3 with a 3.89 ERA in seven starts prior to the All Star break. However, he’s ramped it up even more since then.
Cole is 6-4 with an astounding 2.85 ERA since then, success that drew him the Game 2 assignment. What’s been the key to his late success?
“Getting more comfortable,” Cole said. “When you’re more comfortable out there you relax more. Being able to trust your pitches more and not trying to overdo things as much. The game plan has evolved as we’ve gone along because executing pitches early allows you to do different things.”
As for his philosophy while pitching, well, let’s just say it’s a little different.
“I’m always angry out there,” Cole said. “There’s a quiet aggression you need to have on the mound, a certain poise, but you can’t go out and play this game and not let it get you angry. There’s a balance you have to get to.”