KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Gerrit Cole said he “certainly slept better’’ after last Sunday’s scoreless outing, after a shaky start to his season.
“There’s a little bit of an exhale,’’ said the Yankees’ ace, who threw 6.2 sharp innings during a 10-2 win against Cleveland. “But honestly (it was) kind of a team exhale…we all felt that way.’’
As a club, the Yankees began finding their offensive stride and clicking off wins – six straight entering this weekend series against the Kansas City Royals.
And Cole’s personal turnaround was aided by an increased use of his cutter.
During his four-hit, nine-strikeout performance Sunday at Yankee Stadium, Cole used the cutter 20 percent of the time according to Statcast.
Cole had used the cutter 11.3 percent of the time during his first three starts of 2022, carting a 6.35 ERA through 11.1 innings.
“What we’re trying to do with that pitch is look for opportunities…to either enhance what we’re trying to do throughout the at-bat or to be unpredictable,’’ Cole said Friday, ahead of Saturday’s scheduled start against the Royals.
During his last start, the cutter was sharp early and “getting to the areas we wanted,’’ so Cole and catcher Jose Trevino “tried to find more opportunities’’ to work it in.
Cole’s other objective last Sunday was not to get caught up in trying to be too perfect with every pitch.
“Just a lot of good quality pitches that we’ll try to replicate,’’ Cole said of his aim Saturday at Kauffman Stadium. “And (keep) staying on the attack really.’’
Bringing it back
Cole said that he first contemplated bringing the cutter back into his regular arsenal during the offseason.
“I always try to make sure to keep the main thing the main thing as far as my approach goes,’’ Cole said.
“If I am executing the fastball at the highest level, and one or two other pitches, regardless of if I have the cutter or not, we can pretty much be in a good spot to keep our team in the ballgame and win.’’
But it’s nice to have another weapon in the bag.
Entering spring training, manager Aaron Boone was aware that Cole wanted to increase his cutter usage.
“I think he, and we, kind of like some of the early signs of what that pitch could be for him,’’ Boone said. “There’s certain teams that sell out to try and take his fastball away from him. (The cutter) gives him a little something off of that.
“Hopefully, that (pitch) added to the mix will just make everything else a little better.’’
Aaron Hicks returns
Following the birth of his son, Cameron, center fielder Aaron Hicks returned to the Yankees’ lineup Friday night.
Hicks’ wife Cheyenne, a niece of Tiger Woods, gave birth to the couple’s first child Tuesday morning in Arizona. Hicks left New York on Sunday night for what had been originally scheduled to be an induced birth on Monday.
Mother and child are doing well, but it wasn’t easy for Hicks to leave Arizona; he hadn’t seen Cheyenne since he left for spring training and won’t be able to be with his family for another month, based on the baseball schedule and her recovery.
In keeping with a modern, there’s-an-ap-for-that lifestyle, Hicks said they chose the baby’s name through a phone ap designed to match up names.
Batting .273 with a .377 on-base percentage over his first 15 game, Hicks missed the Yankees’ three-game sweep at home against Baltimore and hadn’t played since last Sunday against Cleveland.
Pete Caldera is the Yankees beat writer for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to all Yankees analysis, news, trades and more, please subscribe today and download our app.