A.J. Cole
A.J. Cole
27-Year-Old PitcherRP
Cleveland Indians
2019 Fantasy Outlook
Calling Cole's 2018 campaign an up-and-down season hardly captures how varied his performance truly was. The right-hander parlayed a strong spring into a rotation spot with the Nationals, though he only lasted two starts in that role before being moved to the bullpen. He then struggled some more, ultimately being designated for assignment in late April after serving up 15 earned runs in 10.1 innings. The Yankees traded for him shortly thereafter and immediately deployed him in a multi-inning relief role, a spot in which he found more success. Though a rough end to the season inflated his ERA to 4.26, he produced a strikeout rate of 29.2% with New York while walking 9.5% of the batters he faced. Cole figures to fill a similar role for Cleveland in 2019 after being claimed off waivers in January, though he won't be afforded much of a leash if his struggles persist. Read Past Outlooks
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$Signed a one-year, $555,300 contract with the Nationals in March of 2018. Traded to the Yankees in April of 2018. Waived by the Yankees in January of 2019. Claimed off waivers by the Indians in January of 2019.
Called up by Cleveland
PCleveland Indians
May 11, 2019
Cole was recalled by the Indians on Saturday, Paul Hoynes of The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.
Cole has an unimpressive 5.05 career ERA in 148 major-league innings. He's worked as both a starter and reliever in the past but appears to be up as a reliever this time, as he's pitched exclusively out of the pen for Triple-A Columbus this season, recording a 3.18 ERA in 17 innings. Cody Anderson was optioned in a corresponding move.
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Pitching Stats
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Minor League Game Log
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Left/Right Pitching Splits
Since 2017
BAA Batters K BB H 2B 3B HR
Since 2017vs Left .337 223 42 28 65 12 2 13
Since 2017vs Right .206 249 67 22 45 8 0 10
2019vs Left .250 9 2 1 2 0 0 0
2019vs Right .167 13 4 0 2 0 0 0
2018vs Left .366 93 18 10 30 8 1 7
2018vs Right .219 128 41 12 25 3 0 8
2017vs Left .320 121 22 17 33 4 1 6
2017vs Right .196 108 22 10 18 5 0 2
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Home/Away Pitching Splits
Since 2017
ERA on Road
ERA at Home
ERA on Road
ERA on Road
Since 2017Home 5.02 1.34 57.1 3 5 0 9.7 3.3 2.2
Since 2017Away 4.47 1.72 48.1 5 3 0 8.8 5.4 1.7
2019Home 0.00 0.67 3.0 1 0 0 12.0 0.0 0.0
2019Away 3.86 1.29 2.1 0 1 0 7.7 3.9 0.0
2018Home 6.57 1.38 24.2 2 1 0 11.3 2.9 3.6
2018Away 5.70 1.82 23.2 2 1 0 10.6 5.3 1.9
2017Home 4.25 1.38 29.2 0 4 0 8.2 3.9 1.2
2017Away 3.22 1.66 22.1 3 1 0 6.9 5.6 1.6
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Stat Review
How does A.J. Cole compare to other relievers?
This section compares his stats with all relief pitcher seasons from the previous three seasons (minimum 30 innings)*. The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that stat and it would be considered average.

* Exit Velocity, Barrels/BBE %, Balls Hit 95+ MPH %, and Spin Rate are benchmarked against this season's data (min 20 IP). See here for more exit velocity/barrels stats plus an explanation of current limitations with that data set.
  • K/BB
    Strikeout to walk ratio.
  • K/9
    Average strikeouts per nine innings.
  • BB/9
    Average walks per nine innings.
  • HR/9
    Average home runs allowed per nine innings.
  • Fastball
    Average fastball velocity.
  • ERA
    Earned run average. The average earned runs allowed per nine innings.
  • WHIP
    Walks plus hits per inning pitched.
    Batting average on balls in play. Measures how many balls in play against a pitcher go for hits.
  • GB/FB
    Groundball to flyball ratio. The higher the number, the more likely a pitcher is to induce groundballs.
  • Left On Base
    The percentage of base runners that a pitcher strands on base over the course of a season.
  • Exit Velocity
    The speed of the baseball as it comes off the bat, immediately after a batter makes contact.
  • Barrels/BBE
    The percentage of batted ball events resulting in a Barrel. A Barrel is a batted ball with similar exit velocity and launch angle to past ones that led to a minimum .500 batting average and 1.500 slugging percentage.
  • Spin Rate
    Spin Rate is the rate of spin on a baseball after it is released. It is measured in revolutions per minute (rpm).
  • Balls Hit 95+ MPH
    The percentage of batted balls hit that met or exceeded the 95 MPH threshold.
  • Swinging Strike
    The percentage of pitches that result in a swing and a miss.
94.9 mph
Left On Base
Exit Velocity
81.6 mph
Spin Rate
2323 rpm
Balls Hit 95+ MPH
Swinging Strike
Advanced Pitching Stats
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Defensive Stats
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Stats Vs Today's Lineup
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Recent RotoWire Articles Featuring A.J. Cole
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April 19, 2018
Dave Regan had to wait a few years, but his Goldschmidt-for-Bundy trade is finally paying off. Find out what else has surprised him in the first month.
Weekly Pitcher Rankings: Corbin Checks All the Boxes
April 14, 2018
Todd Zola ranks the coming week's starting pitchers, and Arizona's Patrick Corbin looks to be in a good spot with two starts at home against weak-hitting teams.
Past Fantasy Outlooks
Cole posted his best ERA (3.81) in his third partial season in the majors, but the advanced metrics suggest he has made only marginal improvements, if any. He had a 5.20 FIP and below-average strikeout and walk rates (19.2 percent and 11.8 percent, respectively). Cole could compete for a job at the back of the rotation or as a swingman, depending on who the Nationals acquire this offseason, but there's little in his track record that suggests he'll have much success if given a job. Cole will be 26 next season and has not impressed at any level since he posted a 3.15 at Triple-A Syracuse back in 2015. In NL-only leagues, Cole has some appeal given the team he's on, but he's a risk even in those settings as his roster spot is far from guaranteed out of camp and could be lost easily if his ERA slides back toward where the estimators say it should be.
Cole finally got a shot at a regular stint in the major league rotation, making eight starts late in the season, but his inability to keep the ball in the park left him saddled with an ugly ERA. The 24-year-old also failed to dominate in Triple-A, and at this point he looks more like a possible reliever in the long run rather than a key rotation component. The issue appears to be with his low 90s fastball, which doesn't have the velocity or movement to get past big league hitters. Cole's slider is a solid offering, and he complements it with a decent curve and changeup, but unless his control with the fastball is impeccable, he's prone to getting hit hard. The Nationals will head into 2017 potentially in need of a fifth starter, and with prospects Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez shipped out of Washington in the offseason, Cole could push for a rotation spot. If he fails to impress in spring training, Cole may fill a swing-man role or simply head back to the minors.
Cole made his major league debut in 2015, bouncing back and forth between Triple-A Syracuse and the Nationals and not looking particularly impressive with either club. A tall right-hander with a solid but not dominant repertoire, Cole attacks the strike zone with a low-90s fastball, slider, and curveball, and his 76:34 K:BB ratio in 105.2 Triple-A innings is a better reflection of his upside than his 9:1 mark in 9.1 innings with the Nats. He's also shown a tendency to struggle after a promotion, so his extreme hittability during his brief time in the majors wasn't a big surprise. Washington will be looking to fill a couple of rotations spots in the offseason, but Cole isn't necessarily a lock to even get a chance at one in spring training. He was decidedly passed on the depth chart by Joe Ross last season, and the club could decide they need him in the bullpen instead.
Splitting the season between Double-A and Triple-A, Cole did enough to solidify his status as the likely next Nationals' starting pitching prospect to get the call to the big leagues, posting a combined 3.16 ERA and 1.34 WHIP over 134 innings with a strong 3.5 K/BB ratio. Despite his size, the tall right-hander doesn't have the overpowering raw stuff of fellow Nats prospect Lucas Giolito, which is reflected in Cole's relatively pedestrian 7.5 K/9 rate across the two levels in 2014, but he pounds the zone well with his 92-95 mph fastball while mixing in a slider and curve. His breaking pitches are both works in progress, which could make his transition to the majors a bumpy one. If general manager Mike Rizzo elects to trade one of his soon-to-be free agent starting pitchers, Cole could be at the head of the line for an audition as the new fifth starter.
Re-acquired from the A's last offseason in the Mike Morse deal, Cole put together a sharp 151:33 K:BB ratio in 142.2 innings between High-A and Double-A and vaulted back towards the top of the Nationals' prospect list. He seemed to need a bit of time to adjust to a new level, which means you shouldn't expect him to make much of an impact in the majors for a couple of seasons yet, but Cole's lanky frame, big fastball and curveball/changeup offspeed arsenal can still evoke Justin Verlander comparisons if you catch him on the right day and squint really hard.
Cole pitched very well at Low-A Burlington, but then was absolutely crushed upon promotion to Stockton in the hitter-friendly California League. He started eight games for Stockton with a nearly 8.00 ERA. He was the top pitching prospect acquired in the Gio Gonzalez trade, but the A's turned around and traded him back to Washington in the offseason in the John Jaso-Mike Morse three-way deal. He's still young (he turned 21 in January) and the trade shows the Nationals are still high on his future. His fastball sits in the mid-90s and Washington will likely start him off in Low-A again and bring him through the system slowly.
Cole, a 2010 fourth-round draft pick of the Nationals, pitched better than his line indicated in Low-A Hagerstown. His peripherals were outstanding, 10.92 K/9IP and 2.43 BB/9IP, and his ERA was affected by a low strand rate (63.1 percent) and high BABIP (.342). He features a plus-fastball that sits in the 91-93 mph range, an above average curveball and a change-up. Just 20 years old, Cole was included in the package sent to Oakland for Gio Gonzalez in December. He'll open the season in the hitter-friendly California League, and is likely two full minor league campaigns away from the big league radar.
Cole fell to the fourth round in the draft due to his bonus demands to get him out of a commitment to the University of Miami, but the Nationals took a chance and were able to get his name on a contract. The lanky righty may get a "projectable" label from scouts, but he's already capable of topping 94 mph with his fastball, has a nasty power curve when he doesn't overthrow it and has even shown a feel for a changeup, which is an excellent starting point for an 19-year-old. He's a long way from the majors, but if he fills out and refines his arsenal Cole will some day be a force at the top of the Washington rotation.
More Fantasy News
Beginning season in minors
PCleveland Indians
March 20, 2019
Cole was reassigned to minor-league camp Wednesday, Paul Hoynes of The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.
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Clears waivers
PCleveland Indians
February 11, 2019
Cole cleared waivers Monday and will remain in the Indians' organization.
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Removed from 40-man roster
PCleveland Indians
February 4, 2019
Cole was designated for assignment by Cleveland on Monday.
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Picked up by Cleveland
PCleveland Indians
January 11, 2019
Cole was claimed by the Indians on Friday.
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Designated for assignment
PNew York Yankees
January 4, 2019
Cole was designated for assignment by the Yankees on Friday to make room for new signing Troy Tulowitzki.
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