The Houston Astros acquired starting pitcher Gerrit Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates in a four player deal. The acquisition of Cole solidifies what was already a strong rotation in Houston.
Cole will slide into the third starter spot in the Astros rotation behind Justin Verlander and Dallas Kuechel. The three veterans along with Lance McCullers Jr and Charlie Morton form arguably the best rotation in the American League.
Now before you get excited and over draft Cole, keep one thing in mind. He has struggled the last two seasons in Pittsburgh. In 2016 Cole went 7-10 with a 3.88 ERA. Last season, Cole finished 12-12 with a 4.26 ERA.
Cole struggled with the long ball last season surrendering 31 home runs to opposing hitters. It didn’t help that he pitched at hitter friendly PNC Park but he is going to an even more hitter friendly park in Minute Maid Park. He has to learn to pitch down in the strike zone and keep the ball in the park.
The Astros are hoping to get a pitcher that resembles 2015 Gerrit Cole. Cole finished 19-8 that season with an ERA of 2.60. I don’t think they’ll get that but they could get 14-15 wins out of Cole and an ERA that is closer to his career average of 3.50.
I would draft Cole between rounds 8-10. Obviously it will depend on the flow of your draft and how quickly pitchers are coming off the board. Don’t draft him on reputation. He is no longer an ace. He will not give your team the innings or the strikeouts he did in Pittsburgh. Cole will use his off-speed more in the American League. That will effect his overall numbers.
The trade is great for the Astros but time will tell how fantasy owners will do with Cole in the American League now.