Mehno: It’s too early to get gaga over Cole
PITTSBURGH – Four major league starts and Gerrit Cole is 4-0. So naturally people start thinking he’ll be 10-0 after 10 starts. Even the math impaired can figure out the progression.
It’s exciting that the Pittsburgh Pirates finally have a legitimate prospect who can fry a radar gun.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. As nice as 4-0 is, Cole still has a 3.70 earned run average, and so far he’s shown little other than a very impressive fastball.
The Elias Sports Bureau dug up that Cole was the first overall No. 1 pick to win his first four starts since Ben McDonald, who won his first five with the 1990 Baltimore Orioles. McDonald finished his career at age 29 with a 78-70 record and 3.91 ERA.
Pirates fans haven’t been this excited about a pitcher since 2005 when Zach Duke had a 3-0 record and 0.93 ERA after his first four starts. He allowed no earned runs in three of those starts.
People were lining up at the ticket windows on nights he pitched. One teammate in that dreadful 95-loss season asked him, “Can you pitch every game?”
At last check, Duke was pitching in the minor leagues for the Reds, his fourth organization in the last three seasons. There’s no comparison between Duke and Cole, of course. Duke never had a 100-mile per hour fastball or the kind of potential that Cole does.
But Duke’s career path is a reminder that things can happen, especially to pitchers. After that 8-2, 1.81 start with the Pirates in 2005, who dreamed that Duke at 30 would be 50-75 with a 4.60 ERA?
Cole has the potential to be the anchor of the rotation for a long time. Right now he’s a rookie who has not pitched more than 132 innings in a season. Enjoy what he’s doing, come out and watch him, but understand this is still very much a work in progress – even at 4-0.
Kenny Chesney fans left their mark on the North Side, and it took a while to scrub it clean.
Chesney packed Heinz Field last weekend, and his appearance also touched off the annual alcohol-fueled party surrounding the stadium.
According to reports, Chesney fans solved the problem of long lines for the claustrophobic porta-potty by using cardboard boxes as comfort stations. They left those behind, along with the million or so cans and bottles.
Authorities say the mess was “five times worse” than the fallout from a Steelers game. Steelers fans can take that either as a compliment or a challenge.
Mehno can be reached at email@example.com.