NEW YORK (AP) Over five seasons as ace of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Gerrit Cole threw one of the games hardest, heaviest fastballs, and he threw it often. The pitch helped him make millions of dollars. It put him in contention for major awards. Hitters swung through it again and again, and Cole seemed content not to mess with a good thing.
But when Cole was traded to the Houston Astros this offseason, a funny thing happened. He became more frugal with his fastball and ended up more overpowering than ever.
Cole has joined some of the games best pitchers including Clevelands Corey Kluber and the Dodgers Clayton Kershaw in benefiting from a puzzling baseball paradox: In an era when pitchers are throwing harder than ever, theyre maximizing success by using fewer fastballs.