PNC PARK – So much rests upon the right shoulder of Gerrit Cole.
The way I see it there are three players the Pirates cannot afford to lose for large portions of the season: Andrew McCutchen – you might have heard he won the NL MVP – Russell Martin - the pitch-framing, pitch-sequencing, throwing arm, presence and league-average bat for a catcher are invaluable – and Cole.
In looking beyond 2014, you can make an argument Cole is the team’s most valuable asset. So whenever your bluest of blue chips – a young, pre-arb ace – has shoulder discomfort that summons worst-case scenarios for the pitcher and the club. An elbow injury requiring Tommy John is not desirable but at least the success rates of the surgery are high. Structural damage to a shoulder is a much more difficult to return from.