60-Man player pool gives second life to Angels pitcher

With his addition to the Angels’ 60-man player pool, Taylor Cole has found a second life with the in Anaheim.

Nearly a year ago, things were looking up for Taylor Cole. On July 12, 2019, the right-hander served as an opener against the Mariners and combined with Felix Pena on a no-hitter. That was one of four no-nos tossed in all of baseball last season, and one of two combined no-hitters across the league.

At the time, Cole was a dependable bullpen piece. Often deployed in middle relief or as an opener for the club, he had worked to a 4.19 ERA at that point. The no-hitter would trigger a run of solid performances, with Cole going 1-1 with a 1.06 ERA and 13 strikeouts over 17 innings of work in July.

However, things came crashing down from there. August painted a much different picture as Cole struggled, surrendering 24 hits and 22 earned runs over his next 10 innings of work (19.80 ERA). His slash line against for the month was .444/.508/.667 and he surrendered an astronomical .550 BAbip during that run. Ultimately, he would finish the season with a 3-4 record, a 5.92 ERA, and an 8.7 K/9 rate.

As baseball works, Cole found himself on the chopping block. After the Angels selected the contract of Ryan Buchter in March, Cole was designated for assignment to clear up a spot on the 40-man roster. While he had the chance to opt for free agency, he instead chose to accept a minor league assignment and remain with the club.

Oh, what a fruitful decision that turned out to be for Taylor Cole.

Six days after being designated for assignment, Major League Baseball froze all roster transactions, preventing players from being signed or released. Had Cole opted for free agency, he could have remained in limbo for months, unable to collect even the minor league stipend during the suspended season. Instead, he stuck it out and was rewarded for his patience and loyalty by being added to the Angels’ 60-man player pool on Sunday.

While the Angels have made big efforts to improve their rotation depth in 2020, the team has had a penchant for injuries over the last several seasons. That run of bad luck is a big reason why Taylor Cole ended up with the Angels in the first place. Signed as a minor league free agent in March 2018, Cole ended up making 18 appearances and two starts for the Angels two seasons ago, going 4-2 with a 2.75 ERA, a 3.33 FIP, a 0.889 WHIP, and a 9.8 K/9 ratio.

Now, he’ll be in a position to once again be a depth piece should the need arise. With his addition to the 60-man player pool, Cole will get what most minor leaguers will not in 2020; repetitions against competition and a chance to called up to the big league club. Still commanding a big arm that can get strikeouts (one that led all of minor league baseball in the category in 2014), Cole will be out to prove he can still be a part of the Angels’ picture in 2020 and beyond.

While many minor leaguers will be sitting at home and hoping that a 60-man player pool spot opens up, Taylor Cole will be working to get another chance on the game’s biggest stage. A chance that started by one decision, staying put, and trusting the process and his skills.

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