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Cole set for first start vs. Pirates since trade


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Gerrit Cole pitches as a member of the Astros – AP

The Pirates face the Astros this Tuesday, June 25, for Game 1 of a three-game set in Houston — and Gerrit Cole reportedly will take the mound.

Oh, yes. That's happening.

Cole played his first five seasons with the Pirates, notching a career-high 33 starts in 2017 before being shipped to Houston in January 2018, in a trade that netted Joe MusgroveColin MoranMichael Feliz and Jason Martin.

While originally drafted by the Yankees in 2008, Cole elected to attend UCLA, giving the Pirates the opportunity to select him first overall in 2011. From there, he became the team's No. 1 starter and was named the 2013 NL Rookie of the Month in September 2013. He pitched six innings in a Game 2 NLDS victory over the Cardinals in 2013, striking out five while allowing two hits and one earned run.

Cole also pitched five innings in Game 5 of that series, giving up two earned runs and again striking out five in a 6-1 loss that sealed the Pirates' fate and ended their 2013 campaign. Cole also started the Pirates' 2015 Wild Card game against the Cubs, giving up four earned runs in five innings during a 4-0 loss.

He has not pitched against the Pirates since the trade.

Cole certainly impressed as a member of the Pirates, but he was even better in 2018 with the Astros, going 15-5 with a 2.88 ERA and a 1.033 WHIP — the latter of which is the lowest of his career. He earned an All-Star nod for that 2018 campaign, a feat matched only once before, in 2015, when he posted a career-low 2.60 ERA during a 19-8 season with the Pirates. Last year, Cole also pitched a complete-game shutout, the first and only of his career to-date, and tallied 276 strikeouts — the most, by far, of his career. His previous best was 202 with the Pirates in 2015.

Cole is on pace to break his own personal best WHIP in 2019, putting up a a 1.024 in 16 starts this season, and the success is not just his own. The Astros are first in the AL West with a stellar 48-28 record, seven-and-one-half games ahead of the second-place Rangers.

It's either a recipe for disaster or a recipe for a shocking upset. Either way, Pirates fans might wanna take some blood pressure medication before this one.

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