Gerrit Cole could be the exception to baseball’s extreme caution with pitchers this year

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Kristie Ackert, New York Daily News
·3 min read
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DUNEDIN — After a weird, shortened 2020 season, most of baseball came into this spring not knowing what to expect from their pitchers. There is a belief that after an abbreviated workload last year, teams have to protect their starters. One American League executive said he wouldn’t expect anyone could reach the 200-inning mark this year.

Gerrit Cole might be the exception, Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Sunday. The Yankees ace did not shy away from the expectation.

“I haven’t put a number on it, but my goal every year is to go deep in the games and make as many starts as I’m asked,” Cole said.

Cole has surpassed the 200-inning mark in four of his last five normal seasons. He pitched 92 innings, including the postseason, in last year’s abbreviated season.

Despite the stop-and-start ramp up and the weird workload, Cole doesn’t see this year as anything extraordinary.

“I mean we’re one start away from being built up at this point and it’s been as normal in the spring as I’ve had my career,” Cole said when asked about a 2020 hangover.

Cole has one more start this spring. Usually starters use that as light fine-tuning for the regular season.

WOJCIECHOWSKI SIDELINED?

Asher Wojciechowski left Sunday’s game with an injury to his side.

“Woj felt something in his lat. so we’ll see what we have there,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “Hopefully it’s not something that’s too serious or anything that keeps him out too long. He’s been throwing the ball really well.”

After a rocky start, allowing five earned runs in his first two appearances, Wojciechowski had pitched 3.1 scoreless innings. That included 1.1 innings on Sunday. The 32-year-old is in camp on a minor league deal trying to win a spot in the Yankees bullpen.

Another reliever looking to make the roster also had a tough day.

Lucas Luetge, the lefty who had pitched 5.1 scoreless innings in camp, had his streak snapped Sunday. In his third appearance against the Blue Jays, and second straight, Luetge gave up two home runs.

FRAZIER’S FINE

After missing Saturday’s game, Clint Frazier was back in the lineup, going 2-for-4 with two RBI in the Yankees’ win over the Blue Jays. Boone explained why he gave Frazier, who had been on the travel list and batting practice schedule, an extra day off.

“I just gave him an extra day, he was a little sluggish yesterday was all,” Boone said. “He’s playing right field, so I kind of wanted him to stay back and get some work in in right field just to have a couple days rolling into that.”

He made 27 starts in right field and 28 appearances while Aaron Judge was out with a calf injury in 2020. He transformed himself from a player who cost the Yankees eight runs with his defense in 2019, to a plus-2 in defensive runs saved. In Statcasts’ Outs Above Average, Frazier was in the 69th percentile. In 51 chances in right field, Frazier made one error.

DOUBLING UP

Domingo German, who last pitched on Mar. 15, will throw a live batting practice on Monday night. Jameson Taillon will pitch in the night game against the Phillies. Boone said that there will be some mixing up of his starters the final week of spring training. He also declined to give any idea of how he would line them up for the regular season — aside from Cole getting the nod for Opening Day.

“We’ll juggle some things around with guys throwing live BP and some in-game things,” Boone said. “Just a little bit juggled up the last week.”