Jays Journal contributors will be authoring Blue Jays report cards based on the 2020 season. In this edition, we take a look at A.J. Cole.
After not being tendered a contract last offseason, the front office picked A.J. Cole off free agency to be a part of the Blue Jays pitching staff. Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins believed that the former top prospect had untapped potential left in the tank despite playing on three teams prior to joining the Blue Jays.
In 2020, Cole pitched to a 3.09 ERA with an opponent average of .226 over 24 games while being credited for three wins. When the Jays were still figuring out their closing situation when Ken Giles was injured, Cole was given four save opportunities, converting only one.
A.J. Cole’s arsenal
Cole relied on four pitches this season with them being a slider (45.4%), fastball (34.4%), cutter (9.7%), changeup (7.9%) and curveball (2.6%).
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With his changeup, he threw all but one pitch to left-handed batters, but gave up hits at a .400 clip. With his slider, he gave up hits at a .255 clip, but could have been less with an expected batting average (XBA) of .170.
When throwing his fastball, he limited hitters to bat .158, but had an XBA of .207.
Split stats as a Blue Jay
As the home team, Cole performed much better compared to pitching on the road. At home, he went 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA along with a .147 opponent average in 11 games. On the road, a 5.11 ERA with an opponent average of .280.
He did really well in August, 1.42 ERA with an opponent average of .209 but faltered in September with a 7.04 ERA. He fared better against lefties (2.45 ERA/.139 opponent average) than righties (3.65 ERA/.292 opponent average).
Cole did what the Jays expected of him to by getting outs. He was able to limit the damage while preventing runs from crossing the plate.
The front office now has a decision to make, to tender him a contract or not. He made the prorated portion of $563,500 which is $8500 more than the league minimum and will surely be looking for that to be increased for the 2021 season.
I would probably give him a spot in the bullpen for next season, but would you?