Yankees Gerrit Cole ‘pitching his best baseball that we’ve seen’ ahead of October: Boone

MLB: New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays
Sep 22, 2020; Buffalo, New York, US; New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Sahlen Field. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Gerrit Cole ended his first regular season as a member of the playoff-bound New York Yankees on quite the high note by pitching seven solid innings Tuesday night, leading the Bombers to a 12-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in Buffalo.

Cole, who went 7-3 with a 2.84 ERA and 94 strikeouts during the 60-game season, is throwing out some of his very best stuff just ahead of the upcoming best-of-three Wild Card round, manager Aaron Boone said on Tuesday night.

“I just feel he’s got a real good understanding of his attack plan,” Boone said, speaking also on the rapidly-developed chemistry developed with catchers Gary Sanchez and Kyle Higashioka.

“I feel like he’s pitching his best baseball that we’ve seen at this point as he gets ready to head into the postseason for the first time with us,” he added.

Having a few additional off days ahead of next Tuesday’s wild-card matchup with possibly the Minnesota Twins, Cole said that he’ll be taking some time to recover and then “hop back on the train” with some bullpen work ahead of the playoffs.

Noting that focus remains on a strong finish against Toronto and a final three-game series against the Miami Marlins, the Yankees sit 1.5 games behind the Twins for home-field advantage in the Wild Card series.

Regardless, Cole is looking forward to his first postseason in pinstripes “quite a bit,” adding that he “didn’t imagine any[thing] quite like this,” during his first season with the club.

“Outside of things we can’t control like the virus and the shortened season, etcetera, every time we took the ball we just tried to get a little bit better,” Cole said.

The Yankees ace also added that he’s adjusted comfortably to the team, COVID-19 protocols, and what he called a “totally new environment” since first joining the team in late 2019.

“I think he’s navigated it all so well and that’s not easy,” Boone said, also speaking on Cole becoming “entrenched” in Yankees culture.

As Cole readies to experience the most exciting chapter of that Yankees culture for the first time, his manager minced no words on postseason expectations for the righty.

“One of the big reasons we brought him here is to be that ace that can go up against anyone,” Boone said.