A View From Studio 3: Cole era begins for Bucs
On Tuesday, exactly two years after being selected first overall in the First-Year Player Draft, Gerrit Cole will get his first sniff of a Major League game. The former UCLA star will debut in his home stadium, Pittsburgh's PNC Park, against another former first-rounder, Tim Lincecum, and the defending World Series champion Giants.
Before making national headlines in the Draft, Cole dominated at the college level. He arrives as a soon-to-be 23-year-old. Young in life, but not a baby in the baseball world.
Think about this. Cole can look to the opposing dugout on Tuesday and see Madison Bumgarner kicking back and chewing sunflower seeds. Incredibly, the Giants lefty is only 13 months older than Cole, but he is already in his fourth full Major League season. The 10th overall pick in the 2007 Draft, Bumgarner is battle-tested in the postseason and the proud owner of World Series ring. The ink on his $35.5 million contract is bone-dry.
Cole reportedly wanted to reach the big leagues before now, but he likely delayed his own arrival by not signing with the Yankees in 2008 after being selected 28th overall that summer, choosing college over signing. Three years later, his stock jumped.
In signing with the Pirates, Cole joined an organization whose Major League club hasn't enjoyed a winning season in two decades. So what's the point of rushing a possible ace? The Bucs let him mature and grow on the farm.
On Tuesday, with almost no fanfare (compared with the debuts of other recent No. 1 picks Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper), Cole arrives -- perhaps at the perfect time. His club is in contention and in need of another big arm. If all goes as planned, the Pirates may ride him to the postseason, where they'll appear for the first time since he was in diapers.
Every year, when Father's Day rolls around, you can be sure you'll get at least one look at that vintage, grainy 1964 video of Jim Bunning throwing a perfect game at Shea Stadium. At the time it was the first perfect game in the National League in -- you ready? -- 84 years.
Today we're so used to these types of performances that I actually looked up the last time we went 60-some-odd games into the season without a no-hitter. They're so common in today's game, that feels like a interminable stretch. I'm getting bored.
The last time we waited this long into a season to witness a little history was in 2009. That year, Jonathan Sanchez of the Giants pitched the season's first no-hitter -- in July. To put the no-hitter in perspective, think about this: In the last five full seasons (2008 to 2012), we've witnessed 20 no-hitters. That includes six perfect games. (There's only been 23 all-time.) In the previous five full seasons (2003 to 2007), only seven no-hitters were thrown. The only perfect game in that span was tossed by Randy Johnson (2004, for the D-backs).
What's in a name? Before there was Yasiel Puig, there was Rich Puig. A first-round pick by the Mets in 1971, the infielder made it to the Majors in 1974. If you blinked, you missed his big league career; it lasted only four games. Puig went hitless in 11 plate appearances while recording one walk.
Nearly four decades later, Yasiel Puig is making history. The Dodgers' young stud became the first player to hit four home runs and record 10 RBIs in his first five games. His 27 total bases in his first seven Major League games ranks fourth all-time (tied with Jay Bruce and Bo Hart).
Another National League outfielder making news is Atlanta's B.J. Upton, who is being mentioned for a very different reason -- lack of success. Through 54 games, Upton has only 29 hits and has struck out 71 times, and he is in danger of becoming just the second player in history to record fewer than 100 hits in a season while striking out 200 or more times. The only player to do this is Mark Reynolds, in 2010. That same year, his D-backs struck out (as a team) 1,529 times -- an all-time record.
That record may be equaled this season. Entering Monday's action, Houston is on pace to strike out -- drum roll -- 1,529 times.
Matt Yallof is the co-host of The Rundown on MLB Network from 2-4 p.m. ET. Follow him on twitter @mattyallofmlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.