The Pittsburgh Pirates placed pitcher Gerrit Cole on the 60-day disabled list Tuesday with a right elbow injury, effectively ending his season.
The team announced his injury as right elbow posterior inflammation. Cole returned to the mound Monday after missing three weeks, and he gave up five runs on four hits and four walks in two innings of a 6-2 loss to Philadelphia.
In the big picture, Cole’s health and future are of vital importance to the Pittsburgh organization. Last year, Cole graduated to the ranks of baseball’s elite starters when he finished among the National League’s top 10 in wins (19), innings (208), ERA (2.60), WHIP (1.09) and strikeouts (202). He fanned Mike Trout in the All-Star Game and finished fourth behind Jake Arrieta, Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw in Cy Young Award balloting.
Right-hander Lance McCullers, meanwhile, hasn’t thrown off a mound as he tries to come back from a sprained elbow suffered Aug. 2.
“It’s going to depend on where we’re at as a team and where they’re at,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Monday, according to the Houston Chronicle. “Our idea is to continue positive progress with these guys and not set a timeline or a necessary deadline for them to have to meet. Otherwise we’ll threaten further injury. One more setback for any of these guys, and it’s over.”
Keuchel, 28, won 20 games and the Cy Young last season for an Astros team that advanced to the division series, losing to the eventual World Series champion Royals. McCullers, 22, was counted on to be a big part of the Astros this season after an encouraging rookie campaign.
Astros starters are struggling at the wrong time. Houston is 3? games out of the second wild card and 4-6 in its past 10 games. Hinch acknowledged that the team is walking a tightrope with the two pitchers.
“They’re not doing enough to be ruled in or out,” Hinch said, according to the newspaper. “McCullers is the closest guy, but you can play catch all you want — until you get on the mound, it’s when you really get serious about pitching. Keuchel’s not throwing yet, so there’s certainly some concern on both of theirs for different reasons because of where we are on the schedule, but we’ll go day-to-day.”