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2 years agoWhat goes up must come down, and that seems to be the case after New York Yankees starting pitcher Gerrit Cole could not quite replicate the all-time season that he had in 2019. The nearly unheard of 39.9% strikeout rate he posted in 2019 made his stellar 32.6% mark in 2020 seem disappointing, but his elite walk rate did not budge at 5.9%. With fewer strikeouts came more contact -- coming up to a 69.1% contact rate, up from a 66.3% mark -- and all of this, along with the negative home ballpark shift, resulted in some more long balls (1.73 home runs per nine innings), which contributed to his ERA also bloating all the way up to a still incredible 2.84. Cole decided if it's not broken, don't fix it in 2020, keeping his pitch distribution and all of the PITCHf/x metrics on his offerings the same, and that parlayed into another Cy Young-caliber year -- he finished fourth in the voting. It is a very good bet that Cole's home run issues improve in 2021, given that his 1.73 home runs allowed in 2020 rank in the 92nd percentile among pitchers with ground-ball rates between 40% and 45% and strikeout rates above 30% over the last five seasons. The Yankees ace is as good of a bet as anybody to take home the SP1 crown in 2021, and he might find himself slipping into the late second round on draft day.--Jon Anderson - RotoBaller

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