Showdown: Gerrit Cole vs. Corbin Burnes
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I can’t put forth much of an argument here. Cole is my No. 1 overall pitcher for the 2022 fantasy baseball season, a sure-fire first-round pick, but Burnes is a very close No. 2 after he reined in his early-career control problems en route to claiming the 2021 National League Cy Young Award. I do have a slight concern floating around the back of my brain that Burnes’ command issues might resurface. And I will also note that he allowed just seven home runs among the 657 batters he faced last year, which doesn’t seem sustainable. Cole is more proven, boasting a stellar 2.85 ERA, 0.988 WHIP, and a 12.7 K/9 over his last 107 starts (667 innings) dating back to the beginning of the 2018 season. There was that brief period last June and July when Cole showed a little less effectiveness amid MLB’s sticky-stuff crackdown, but he eventually righted the ship -- either because he figured out how to perform without the stuff or maybe found a better way to hide it. We’ll have to wait and see if that becomes a story again post-CBA. You can’t go wrong in starting a roster build with Cole or Burnes as your ace. I just side a tad more toward certainty. Call me risk-averse. – Drew Silva (@drewsilv)
It’s very difficult to poke any holes in Cole’s resume over the last four seasons. I mean, I still have him as my No. 2-ranked starter, after all. I will point out that he had a 4.12 ERA and 3.39 FIP over 16 starts after the foreign substance crackdown last season, while Burnes boasted a 2.29 ERA and 1.97 FIP over 16 outings during that stretch. Burnes was also better on the whole last season, easily outdoing Cole in ERA (2.43 to 3.23) and WHIP (0.94 to 1.06) while finishing just nine strikeouts behind him over 14 1/3 innings. The Brewers ace also had an utterly ridiculous 1.63 FIP, which suggests that his other numbers could have been even better. Burnes was a bit better than Cole during the shortened 2020, season, as well. Cole does have more of a track record and is a better bet workload-wise, although it’s difficult for me to sweat that too much since he had less than 15 more regular season innings (Burnes also added a dominant six-inning postseason outing, while Cole was roughed up in a two-inning Wild Card start). I don’t see any reason to doubt Burnes’ ability to repeat what he’s done over the last two seasons, and since he’s been better than Cole over that stretch, I have to give the nod to him here. – Ryan Boyer (@RyanPBoyer)
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