Gerrit Cole had a moment after manager A.J. Hinch decided to leave him on the bench during the Astros Game 7 loss.
The Houston Astros lost Game 7 of the World Series after manager A.J. Hinch bypassed starter Gerrit Cole, who had been warming up in the bullpen before Zack Grienke was pulled in the seventh inning. However, Hinch went with reliever Will Harris — who had only allowed one run the entire postseason — and then closer Roberto Osuna, Ryan Pressley, Joe Smith, and Jose Urquidy.
Hinch’s decision may have cost the Astros the game and subsequentially the World Series and it was clear that the now free-agent starter in Cole was upset he wasn’t used in the final game of the season.
“I’m not an employee of the team,” Cole said to an Astros spokesperson. “I guess as a representative of myself…” He ended this quote by saying it was a “pleasure” to play in Houston, making sure to use the past tense of the word in a quote to the Washington Post. Cole, who is entering free agency at 29-years-old and is expected to be paid handsomely this offseason after striking out over 600 batters in his two seasons in Houston.
Cole has a very good chance to make more than David Price and his $217 mil contract he received from Boston and is still the richest deal a starter has ever signed. And while Cole did walk back his comments, it’s clear that with Houston paying veterans Justin Verlander and Zack Grienke $30 mil each, can’t afford Cole.
“I was upset, and my tone did not come off quite the way I wanted it to,” Cole said. “One win away. We had the lead with eight outs to go. It’s just a tough pill to swallow.”
Houston’s owner Jim Crane has already commented publicly that he has no plan to go over the Luxury Tax, so that likely means Cole is signing somewhere else. But what made this whole situation even stupider was that Hinch and Cole had spoken before Game 7 about how they planned on using Cole.
I get not wanting to discuss free agency 20 minutes after being eliminated from the World Series, but be a professional Gerrit. Side note, Gerrit is such a good “you’re in trouble” name. Like, think of your mom yelling up the stairs for Gerrit. Tons of hard consonants — but anyways, baseball.
Cole was upset Hinch didn’t use him, but Hinch made it clear how and when he would us him and that situation didn’t happen in Game 7. So, to get up on your own accord, have the entire stadium in Houston realize their potential Cy-Young winning ace is warming up in the bullpen, after being told specifically when you would be made available in this game is just disrespectful. I’m sure Cole felt he was being disrespected as well, but it just paints a strange picture for Cole as a player who just recently started to get national attention after moving from Pittsburgh to Houston two seasons ago.
It won’t impact him or the money he’s going to receive this offseason, but it does raise questions. But Hinch, who had been seemingly pushing all the right buttons with his bullpen usage all postseason, did make a mistake. He should have brought in his best arm in the most important game of the year, regardless of the situation he and Cole discussed.
But Cole getting upset that his manager didn’t allow him to push himself into the game and then making it seem like he’s absolutely done with Houston just 20 minutes after being bounced from the postseason is just a bad look for Cole.
A strange situation that likely won’t factor much into a decision that was already somewhat decided by both the Astros and Gerrit Cole, “Thanks for everything, it was fun.”
The Los Angeles Angels figure to be the favorites for Cole’s services. Having grown up just a few minutes away from their stadium and with the team having just added player-friendly manager Joe Maddon, Cole seems like a perfect fit there. And Houston will hope for some more young arms to appear while finding another reclamation project while leaning on Verlander and Grienke in 2020.
But this effectively closes the door on any chance that Cole would be back in Houston after this season.