One of the most interesting aspects to me of Gerrit Cole being put in the Pirate rotation slightly ahead of schedule is that it's going to force him to grow as a pitcher pretty quickly. I think that he could've pitched for forever in Triple-A the way that he did on Tuesday: hammer the zone with fastballs to get ahead in the count, then use well-placed fastballs and breaking balls to finish hitters off. His fastball is so good that most Triple-A guys can't catch up to it, so even when they know it's coming it results in a foul ball or weak contact at best. That will not be true of Major League hitters. Cole faced 27 hitters in his big league debut; by the time the Giants finished their second time through the order, they were waiting for Cole's fastball and lining it all over the park.
As I wrote earlier in the week, I'm fine with the strategy of pounding fastballs to get ahead in the count to help Cole get settled into a role in a Major League rotation, but I'm not sure how long it can be successful. Cole only threw a couple of changeups on Tuesday and he basically only threw his breaking ball when he was ahead in the count. I don't think that Cole needs to come out firing with five pitches this afternoon or anything, but I do think that if he'll probably need to sequence his pitches a little differently and throw his changeup more regularly.
Anyway, that's not a criticism of Cole's start, just an observation. He's obviously talented and driven enough to be able to adapt pretty quickly. I'm excited to watch it happen. First pitch is at 1:35.