Gerrit Cole opens up about 'unbelievable' AL Cy Young possibility

Aug 25, 2023; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) throws a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays during the third inning at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

Gerrit Cole is a six-time All-Star and two-time MLB strikeout leader, but the Yankees ace has yet to make a successful run at an elusive Cy Young Award.

New York's $324 million RHP could change that this season.

He strengthened his case in Friday's 6-2 win at the Tampa Bay Rays with perhaps his best start of 2023. He yielded two runs (one earned) on three hits while striking out 11 and walking none in 7.2 innings.

"He's having that kind of season," said Yankees manager Aaron Boone. "Still a ways to go, but he's in the middle of a really special season."

Only Cole's April 16 outing against the Minnesota Twins -- a complete-game shutout, in which he fanned 10 and walked one while allowing two hits as the Yankees won 2-0 -- comes to mind when considering his best this year.

"I said to him, afterward, 'That's about as good as I've seen you, right there,'" Boone said. "That's what it looked like to me -- against, obviously, a really good offense that's familiar with him."

With the Yankees mired in a sub-.500 campaign, Cole (11-4, 2.95 ERA) says he has not thought much of his standing in the AL Cy Young race.

"I don't want to get distracted and it's not something that I've ever thought about through my whole career," Cole said. "So I'm just sticking with what I've done in the past."

At the same time, he understands what the potential award would mean to him and the Yankees.

"It'd be unbelievable," Cole said. "So many people put hard work into it. It'd be just a blessing and to represent the organization with that award and to represent the work that's gone behind the scenes from the catchers and the pitching staff and coaching staff and everybody that's an advocate for me and pours into me ... it would mean a lot, but I've got to shower this off and get ready for Detroit next week.

"That's just the most important thing. That's kind of all I know how to do."