The Pirates have announced that Gerrit Cole has been named the National League Pitcher of the Month for April. Johnny Cueto, Zack Greinke, Michael Wacha, Bartolo Colon and Matt Harvey also received votes, so that's some pretty nice company for Cole.
In April, Cole struck out 35 batters while walking just eight and posted a 1.76 ERA in 30.2 innings. More than that, though, he seems to be emerging as a top young starter to match the likes of someone like Harvey. Cole's strikeout rate has increased from 7.7 in his rookie year to 9.0 in 2014 to 10.3 this season, while his walk rate has held relatively steady. He's also increased his ground ball rate from the 49 percent range in his first two seasons to a ridiculous 63.2 percent this year. I don't know whether that's sustainable -- probably not entirely, since Dallas Keuchel (who, incidentally, is Cole's counterpart as the AL Pitcher of the Month) was the only qualifying starter with a ground ball rate anywhere near that high last year. But if Cole can continue to get grounders at a significantly higher rate than in 2014 while continuing to strike out more than a batter an inning, he's going to be one of baseball's best starting pitchers.