Ever been in a highly competitive card game and the people your playing against keep throwing aces turn after turn? That is exactly what this week's featured players, Gerrit Cole and Patrick Corbin, are bringing to the table so far in 2018.
For this weeks issue of the player spotlight, I am going to take a look at a couple of pitchers who are off to excellent starts. The temperatures to start this season have been less than ideal for many teams around the league. This could possibly be leading to a shortage of power numbers being posted by hitters.
While the colder weather certainly helps out the guys on the mound in many ways it is not the only reason why Gerrit Cole and Patrick Corbin have been lights out this season.
The Arizona ace currently sits at 3-0 with a 1.65 ERA & 0.70 WHIP through four outings thus far. While in Houston Cole sits at 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA and a 0.67 WHIP. Let's take a closer look at why these hurlers have had so much success early on in 2018, starting with the big lefty in Arizona.
Throwing Aces: Gerrit Cole Train & The Desert Snake
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Patrick Corbin, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks
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Plain and simple Corbin has been one of the biggest and best surprises of the campaign to date. He has helped Arizona get off to a division leading 12-4 start, contributing three wins to that number. Even in the contest against the Giants last week in which Corbin did not record a decision he was still rather dominating.
In his four starts, Corbin has racked up 37 punch outs, trailing only Washington ace Max Scherzer for the league lead. The main reason behind the success he has endured this season is the increased usage of his slider in 2018.
Let's not forget that the 28-year-old was an All-Star in 2013, tossing 202 innings with 178 strikeouts. Obviously, he is due for some regression eventually, as evident from his ridiculous .184 FIP.
Domination In The Desert
All though it has only been four starts another thing that sticks out about his success thus far is he is keeping the ball in the yard at a solid rate. Currently, his Home Run per nine inning rate is 0.7. The only other time Corbin has kept that ratio under one was in that All-Star year back in 2013. The lefty is also averaging 3.8 pitches per at bat, which means he is doing an excellent job of pounding the zone.
Entering his walk year may have added a little more incentive for the veteran hurler as he is set to be a free agent in 2019. Corbin is currently whiffing 37% of the batter he faces, the 6th best percentage in all of baseball. If he can keep his walk rate low (only five free passes all season) and his strikeout rate hovering around one per inning he could be in for a career year.
Some owners may be thinking of "selling high" on him because of his quick start, my advice as an owner of Corbin is to stay put unless the offer is irresistible. Arizona scores plenty of runs with a powerful offense led by Americas First Baseman Paul Goldschmidt, there for Corbin will be in line to win a lot of starts. Keep rolling with the Dbacks lefty in all lineups for the foreseeable future.
Gerrit Cole, SP, Houston Astros
New city, new team, no problem for Houston's newest ace Gerrit Cole. To say that the rich got richer in the offseason would be an understatement for the reigning World Series Champs. Last year they added former Tigers stud Justin Verlander for the playoff push. This year it was Cole swapping his Pirates threads for a new look in blue and orange in Houston.
Once highly regarded as one of the best pitching prospects in all of baseball, Cole has seen some of the glow faded from his name. After spending five seasons with the Pirates organization the young flamethrower has moved to the American League. Boy has that been a pleasant decision for the former first overall selection.
Keeping the Cole-Train Rolling
The flame-throwing righty currently finds himself in the top five in punch outs, WHIP, and BAA. Generally speaking, moving from the NL to AL does not do pitchers any favors. As for Cole, this is not the case as he is posting a career high in K/9 and a career low in HR/9 allowed.
The former Buc has been unhittable at times this season, which is evident by his .141 batting average against. Just like Corbin in Arizona, he plays for a team with a ton of offensive juice. With the loaded Astros looking to compete for another title expect Cole to continue flashing the skill set that made him the first overall pick back in 2011.
The only issue I have with Cole is his ability to stay healthy throughout a full season. He has only thrown more than 200 innings twice in his five big league seasons. If he is able to stay out of the training room and on the rubber I don't see any reason why he won't compete for the AL Cy Young. All the talent is there and coming into his prime this year should be the year he puts himself back on the map as one of baseballs best arms.
If you can go out and grab Cole in your league, do it now. Just like with Corbin he is an obvious sell high candidate but I think long term both of these arms are ones you want to be rostering come fantasy playoff time.
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