To say that Gerrit Cole is settling in well with his new club would be a massive understatement. The 27-year-old hurler, who came over to the Astros in a trade from the Pirates over the winter, has been absolutely dominant through his first three starts.
On Friday, he wound up settling for a no-decision after allowing a pair of runs over seven strong innings against the Rangers. Both of the runs that he did allow came on solo home runs in the seventh -- to Joey Gallo and Robinson Chirinos.
It’s what he’s doing in the strikeout department though, that is turning heads. Through his first three starts with the Astros, he’s whiffing opposing hitters at a historic rate.
On Friday, Cole piled up a career-high 14 strikeouts against the Rangers. In doing so, he joined MLB’s strikeout king, Nolan Ryan, as the only hurlers in big league history to fan 11 or more batters in each of their first three starts to begin a season.
Cole also set a new Major League record for the most strikeouts by any pitcher in his first three starts with his new team, with 36. That passes the 34 that Randy Johnson set down in his first three starts with the Diamondbacks during the 1999 season.
The 14 strikeouts also match the record high for any Astros’ pitcher in the history of Minute Maid Park, joining Bud Norris who accomplished the feat in 2010.
Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch came away mighty impressed after watching his right-hander on Friday. He told reporters, "He was going with what was working.. He reads hitters extremely well, and he knows his strengths. He knows what he can do with the ball, and he's executing at a high end. With that skill, that mindset, the approach, the way he thinks about the outing between innings, he can create any game plan and execute it right now."
Through three starts, Cole boasts a 1.29 ERA, 0.67 WHIP and 36/4 K/BB ratio through 21 innings. While he obviously can’t continue at that type of pace, the early returns look as though fantasy owners who called Cole’s name on draft day could be staring at substantial profit potential.
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Padres’ fans and fantasy owners alike were dealt a bit of bad news on Friday when it was announced that 25-year-old right-hander Dinelson Lamet would be undergoing Tommy John surgery on Tuesday.
Lamet was diagnosed with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow. Initially, there had been hope that he could take care of the issue via rest and rehab, but ultimately they came to the decision to go under the knife.
Given the nature of the surgery and the expected timetable for recovery, Lamet will miss all of the 2018 season and most, if not all, of the 2019 season as well. Fantasy owners in dynasty leagues shouldn’t count on any meaningful contributions from him until the 2020 campaign.
Lamet displayed high-strikeout potential in his 21 starts with the Padres in 2017, posting a 4.57 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 139/54 K/BB ratio across 114 ⅓ innings. He was a popular sleeper option in many drafts this spring.
Major League Baseball laid the hammer down on Friday, shelling out suspensions to players for their roles in Wednesday’s brawl between the Rockies and the Padres. Here’s the damage:
Nolan Arenado - 5 Games
This is the big one from a fantasy perspective, as missing a consensus first round pick for close to a week’s worth of action is a major loss. Arenado certainly earned his suspension, as he charged the mound and threw multiple punches after Luis Perdomo had thrown behind him, leading to the benches-clearing incident. Arenado did play on Friday and will remain in the Rockies’ lineup while appealing the suspension.
Luis Perdomo - 5 Games
Perdomo will not appeal his suspension and began serving it on Friday. This one doesn’t matter much from a fantasy perspective as all it will do is push back his next scheduled start one extra day.
Gerardo Parra - 4 Games
The veteran outfielder for his punishment for landing a punch to the face of A.J. Ellis during Wednesday’s melee. As with Arenado, Parra is appealing his suspension.
Buddy Baumann - 1 Game
This one is a complete non-entity from a fantasy perspective, and the Padres may actually be better off without him in the bullpen for a day.
American League Quick Hits: CC Sabathia (hip) was able to throw a bullpen session without issue and is on track to rejoin the Yankees’ rotation at some point next week… Luis Cessa will take his place in the rotation on Saturday against the Tigers… J.C. Ramirez will undergo Tommy John surgery on Tuesday… The Blue Jays placed Josh Donaldson on the 10-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation… Elvis Andrus was officially placed on the 10-day disabled list with a fractured right elbow. He’s expected to be sidelined for 6-to-8 weeks… Hanley Ramirez (wrist) is hopeful for a return to the Red Sox’ lineup on Saturday… The Rangers signed veteran right-hander Yovani Gallardo to a minor league contract… Salvador Perez (knee) could begin a minor league rehab assignment as early as this weekend… Nelson Cruz (ankle) ran the bases prior to Friday’s game without issue and is expected to be activated from the disabled list on Saturday… Ryon Healy (ankle) has been cleared to resume baseball activities… Aaron Hicks hit a pair of home runs, one inside-the-park, leading the Yankees past the Tigers… Devon Travis is heading for precautionary X-rays on his hand after being hit by a pitch during Friday’s contest… Chris Devenski, not Ken Giles, was called upon to protect a lead for the Astros in the ninth inning on Friday, and did so admirably, striking out three of the four hitters he faced… George Springer blasted a pair of home runs off of Cole Hamels in a win over the Rangers… Ian Kinsler went 3-for-4 with a pair of stolen bases in a win over the Royals… Keynan Middleton worked a scoreless ninth inning to earn his third save… Aledmys Diaz belted a three-run homer and swiped a base in a victory over the Indians… Jonathan Schoop was removed from Friday’s game due to discomfort in his side… Eduardo Rodriguez picked up his first win of the season, striking out eight over six innings of one-run ball against the Orioles… Khris Davis crushed a pair of home runs in a losing effort against the Mariners… Daniel Vogelbach belted his first Major League home run in a win over the A’s…
National League Quick Hits: Kevin Plawecki was diagnosed with a fractured left hand. With he and Travis d’Arnaud sidelined, Mike Puma of the New York Post notes that the Mets have talked to the Marlins about acquiring J.T. Realmuto… Nationals’ manager Dave Martinez believes Adam Eaton (ankle) will be able to return “sooner than we think”... Brandon McCarthy (shoulder) is expected to be ready to take his next turn in the Braves’ rotation on Tuesday against the Phillies… Albert Almora had to be scratched from Friday’s lineup due to illness… Charlie Blackmon missed his fourth straight game due to tightness in his quad, but he still isn’t expected to require a trip to the disabled list… Jason Vargas (hand) is scheduled to throw another simulated game on Tuesday, meaning Zack Wheeler should get at least two more starts with the big league club… Christian Yelich (oblique) is optimistic that he’ll be activated from the disabled list when first eligible on Sunday… Wei-Yin Chen (elbow) is striving to make his regular season debut on April 27… Jesse Winker was scratched from the Reds’ lineup due to right shoulder soreness… Anibal Sanchez racked up six strikeouts over six shutout innings in a victory over the Cubs… Yadier Molina clubbed his fifth home run and plated three, leading the Cardinals to victory over the Reds… J.B. Shuck went 4-for-4 and scored a pair of runs in his Marlins’ debut… Carlos Gonzalez had a jack and a bag, leading the Rockies to victory over the Nationals… Wade Davis worked a perfect ninth inning to earn his sixth save… Domingo Santana said he was sore after colliding with teammate Lorenzo Cain in the outfield on Friday and could sit out on Saturday as a precautionary measure… Anthony Rendon was forced to leave Friday’s game against the Rockies after fouling a ball off of his foot, precautionary X-rays came back negative and he’s considered day-to-day… Tyson Ross didn’t allow an earned run over six-plus innings in a win against the Giants… Jeurys Familia locked down his MLB-leading seventh save with a perfect ninth inning against the Brewers… Todd Frazier went 3-for-3 with a pair of home runs in that game, leading the Mets to their ninth consecutive win. They’re a mighty impressive 11-1 to begin the season.