How the Texas Rangers just handed Gerrit Cole his worst start of 2021

David Esser
May 17, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) leaves the game against the Texas Rangers during the sixth inning at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
May 17, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) leaves the game against the Texas Rangers during the sixth inning at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /
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Heading into Monday night’s game against the New York Yankees, there wasn’t a whole lot of optimism going around the Texas Rangers fanbase. The Rangers were coming off a six game losing streaking, they just got swept by the Houston Astros, and the best pitcher in the American League (Gerrit Cole) was set to be on the mound for the Yanks.

The Rangers desperately needed to break out of a slump heading into a new week, and it’s pretty safe to say that taking on Gerrit Cole isn’t exactly the guy hitters want to be seeing pitches from when attempting to “get right.”

However, somewhat miraculously, the Rangers offense faired pretty admirably against Cole and the rest of the Yankees. In fact, they handed Cole his worst start of the entire 2021 season. A pitcher who entered Monday night’s game with a 1.37 ERA and a 0.684 WHIP, the Texas bats tagged him for seven hits and four earned runs, forcing him to leave the game after just 5.0 innings of work.

So how the heck did they do it?

It’s not like Cole was someone destined for a bad game sometime soon. This is a pitcher who has been dominating the MLB since he debuted back in 2013, and is well on his way to a Cy Young award this season if he continues pitching at the rate he has been (prior to tonight’s outing of course).

To put things rather simplistically, the Rangers did an excellent job attacking Cole’s pitches when given something in the zone, generating a ton of hard contact throughout the entire evening. On the 14 balls that were put into play off Cole, 12 of them had an exit velocity north of 90 MPH, and five of them clocked in at 100+ MPH (via baseballsavant.mlb.com).

Two of those 100+ MPH balls were home runs (Adolis Garcia, Willie Calhoun), and the hardest hit ball of the night was a 106 MPH double (also from Calhoun).

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Generating hard contact is easier said than done, especially off a guy like Cole, but it’s clear that the Rangers had a plan set in stone heading into game one of their four-game series with NYY. Seven of the Rangers hard-hit balls came off of Cole’s fastball – they weren’t scared to swing for the fences when faced with one of the best four-seam fastballs in Major League Baseball.

The Texas Rangers had no problems keeping up with Gerrit Cole.

The Rangers taking a rather aggressive approach to Cole last night is a good sign for things to come. It shows they have confidence in some of their younger hitters to swing the bat, and it should have a trickle down effect on the rest of the roster. Cole even ended up walking two hitters during Monday’s ballgame, which is really something we’re just not used to seeing from him.

Likely a result of the Rangers bats knocking him off his game just a bit.

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You’re not always going to smoke multiple 100+ MPH balls off a perennial Cy Young contender, but the Texas Rangers offense did so tonight. An unexpected win here in game one sets them up in great position to split a series with New York here at Globe Life.

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