Gerrit Cole wants to avoid problems on the opening day at the next start

Gerrit Cole takes a simple approach to making his second start of the season better than the first.

“Maybe a hit on the first pitch of the game would be great,” said Cole, referring to the four-pitch walk he issued to Red Sox leadoff batsman Enrique Hernandez on opening day.

“At least get into a better rhythm sooner, settle in earlier and move on from there.”

Cole’s rhythm seemed to slip before he even threw a pitch on Thursday, as he was visibly excited at the pre-game ceremonies merging into his own routine.

But the Yankees right-hander was able to make his debut of the season before it went completely off the rails – giving up three runs in the first inning before rebounding with three shutout frames – and now he’s hoping to settle in from Wednesday’s first pitch against the Blue Jays. He’s still building up his workload after a shortened spring practice session, but should have a little more room to work than the 68 pitches he’s thrown over four innings against the Red Sox.

Yankees ace Gerrit Cole reacts after Xander Bogaert's No. 2 Boston Red Sox singles during the first inning on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium.
Yankees ace Gerrit Cole reacts after dropping a single against Xander Bogaerts in the first inning on Opening Day.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

“I just had a lot of adrenaline and spun my tires there for a minute,” said Cole Tuesday at Yankee Stadium.

Cole is tasked with doing this against the Blue Jays’ loaded lineup. He faced them five times last season and posted a 3.72 ERA in 29 innings when they had Marcus Semien but no Matt Chapman.

Cole, who is likely to see many of the Blue Jays widely expected to win the division this season, hasn’t downplayed the importance of early wins against the Yankees’ AL East nemesis.

Gerrit Cole delivers a pitch during the first inning of the Yankees' opening day game against the Red Sox.
Gerrit Cole holds a pitch on opening day.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

“Even though we play them 19 times, we only play them 19 times,” said Cole. “So in April they count the same as in September. Having to crawl back and feel like we’re going uphill towards the end of the year – you put yourself in a better position if you play better early against these teams with the understanding that both are the case [teams] will get better as the season progresses.”

The Yankees faced that cautionary tale with another division rival last season, when they started 7-0 with the Red Sox before beating them in six straight games to end the season streak — and needed every last, to claw into the playoff picture.

But the 2022 schedule offered the Yankees an immediate temperature check and opened with series against the Red Sox and Blue Jays — a challenge Cole accepted.

“When you’re trying to be the best … top-flight competition is really the position we want to be in,” he said.

While preparing for Wednesday’s start, Cole noted how teammate Jameson Taillon worked against the Blue Jays on Monday night. Taillon limited them to two runs over five innings and used an approach Cole hopes to mirror.

“A couple of times they put him in position with an early base hit or an extra base hit with two outs and he just kept his pace and pitched good after good pitch and got rewarded for it,” said Cole . “Not really because we lost but he gave us a good chance to win and made a good start. I think all of our best games have the same quality that it’s always just one square at a time, regardless of whether something good or bad happens. You just have to stay in the middle.” Gerrit Cole wants to avoid problems on the opening day at the next start


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