Baseball players are notorious for being hard on themselves. The game, after all, offers myriad data and physical mechanics to analyze. It's fairly safe to say, the better the player, the higher the standard to which he holds himself.
Gerrit Cole is no exception.
MLB.com's ninth overall prospect didn't do much wrong on Saturday night. He allowed one run on three hits while striking out five over a career-high seven innings and pitched Triple-A Indianapolis to a 4-1 win over visiting Gwinnett.
But the four walks he issued were too many for the Pirates' top prospect.
"I wasn't tremendously efficient, I had a lot of walks, but I kind of got lucky at times when I made a pitch and they swung at it. Just made pitches when I had to," Cole said. "I was happy I got through five, it was only my second time doing that. The bullpen's been pretty taxed every time I went out there, and this time I gave them a break."
The top overall pick in the 2011 Draft, Cole (2-1) has a 2.31 ERA that ranks among the leaders in the International League. He's averaging 7.33 strikeouts per nine innings, a mark not terribly far from the 9.27 rate he registered across three Minor League levels last season.
But the 15 walks he's allowed in five starts equate to 5.79 per nine innings, almost double the 3.07 he issued a year ago.
All those walks -- and the way they've prevented him from working deeper into games -- are unacceptable, however else the results may look so far, Cole said.
"I've only gone through the fifth inning twice. I don't care what the ERA is, I need to improve," the UCLA product added. "I'm not too pleased. I need more efficiency, more innings. I conditioned myself in the offseason, during the week, to eat a bunch of innings up and keep the bullpen fresh, so it's frustrating. Hopefully, I can get on track."
The 22-year-old displayed sound control last year as he moved up from Class A Advanced Bradenton to Double-A Altoona to one start for Indianapolis. He went 9-7 with a 2.80 ERA and 136 strikeouts against 45 walks over 132 innings.
In his last two Eastern League starts, however, Cole walked 10 in 11 innings. He won his Triple-A debut last Sept. 1, striking out seven and walking one in six frames.
In baseball, those sorts of things tend to even out over enough time.
"I'm sick of walking people. I'll have to look at [my approach], it seems like it's a different thing every time I go out," Cole said. "I just have to get ahead [of hitters], keep that mentality."
Matt Hague provided support for Cole on Saturday, going 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles, an RBI and a run scored. Alex Presley and Jordy Mercer added two hits apiece.