Astros Report Card: Grading the starting pitchers of 2019

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HOUSTON, TEXAS - AUGUST 03: (L-R) Wade Miley #20 of the Houston Astros, Joe Smith #38, Gerrit Cole #45 and Justin Verlander #35 chat during batting practice before a game against the Seattle Mariners at Minute Maid Park on August 03, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - AUGUST 03: (L-R) Wade Miley #20 of the Houston Astros, Joe Smith #38, Gerrit Cole #45 and Justin Verlander #35 chat during batting practice before a game against the Seattle Mariners at Minute Maid Park on August 03, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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Astros Gerrit Cole holding the A:CS Trophy
HOUSTON, TEXAS – OCTOBER 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Houston Astros celebrates with the trophy following his teams 6-4 win against the New York Yankees in game six of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 19, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Gerrit Cole:  A+

Not too many teams can truly give both of their #1 and #2 starting pitchers an A+ grade, but I have no issues with giving Gerrit Cole and Verlander the same top rating. But then again, how many teams have two pitchers battling it out for the Cy Young Award. You can pretty much take it to the bank that one of the two will take home the hardware.

Cole had the best season of his seven-year career, hands down. It couldn’t have come at a better time, right before he becomes a free agent. Virtually every statistical category saw career-best numbers in 2019. Not to mention, shattering several MLB records this season. Cole was named the AL Pitcher of the Month three times this season, June, July and September.

He led the Major Leagues in strikeouts (326), SO/9 IP (13.818), and had the highest ERA+ (185). Cole ended the season with a 2.50 ERA, the lowest in the American League. He came in second behind teammate Verlander in so many categories including his 0.895 WHIP, 6.019 hits/9 IP, and his 6.792 SO/BB ratio.

Cole became only the fourth pitcher in history to have 21 games with double-digit strikeouts in a season, joining Sandy Koufax, Randy Johnson, and Nolan Ryan. That feat obliterated the franchise record and he had nine straight games with 10 or more Ks at one point, setting a Major League record.

From May 22, up until the first game of the World Series on October 22, a full five months, Cole went 25 games without recording a loss. In the midst of that time frame, he went 19-0, the longest winning streak by a pitcher in 107 years.

I’d hate to be one of those that has to make the decision and cast that ballot for the AL Cy Young Award this season. As Cole stated toward the end of the season, the ideal situation would be if he and Verlander could share the award. I just hope Jeff Luhnow can wave his magic wand and get him signed.

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