This article is part of our Rebound Candidate series.
Over his first three seasons, Gerrit Cole compiled a 3.07 ERA with 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings, 2.2 walks per nine and a 2.89 FIP in 463.1 career innings, including his 2.60 ERA in 208 innings during 2015. Entering 2016, those numbers readied him for cementing himself as an elite fantasy baseball pitcher at just 25 years old.
Unfortunately, the disappointment started early, as several physical issues contributed to a disastrous follow-up. Cole would finish with a 3.88 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 7.60 K/9 and 2.79 BB/9 with just seven wins, all career worsts, in his shortest season as a full-time major leaguer.
Those injuries — and some flaws in his game — turned progressively scarier, especially for a pitcher of Cole's fantasy draft price. Should prospective owners stay away, or take advantage of an opportunity?
In 2014, Cole missed time with shoulder fatigue and a strained lat. His healthy 2015 season may have erased those memories.
However, he came down with more issues in 2016, progressively ruining his season in three acts:
1. Cole endured a rocky start to his 2016 prep after suffering from rib inflammation on his right side (his throwing side). He began the season on time, though, and surprisingly recovered from his late spring start quite well, compiling a 2.77 ERA and 55 strikeouts over his first 12 starts (68.1 innings) of 2016. Unfortunately, one giant issue sat below the surface: His pitches were smacked by an eye-popping 30 percent line drives.