In 'uncharted territory,' Cole OK with extra rest

Pirates ace won't make next start until Sept. 15 as season winds down

In 'uncharted territory,' Cole OK with extra rest

CINCINNATI -- Gerrit Cole made it clear Tuesday afternoon: His focus is on each game he pitches, no matter when he's asked to take the mound. That "small picture," as he put it, is his job.

But the Pirates had the bigger picture in mind in several ways when they chose to skip Cole's next scheduled start, as manager Clint Hurdle announced Monday at Great American Ball Park. Even as good as the All-Star right-hander feels, Cole understood the logic behind the decision.

"I think it's an opportunity to reset," Cole said Tuesday. "I feel great right now. It's an opportunity to save some bullets, I guess. It wasn't my decision.

"I feel good. Their job is to manage the big picture. My job is to pitch when [Hurdle] tells me to pitch."

Cole, who started Sunday night in St. Louis, will sit out until the Pirates' doubleheader against the Cubs at PNC Park on Sept. 15. He took a similar breather after the All-Star Game, slotting into the fifth spot in the Bucs' rotation as he went 10 days between starts.

The Pirates have been mindful of Cole's workload all year. He's still a young pitcher -- he turned 25 on Tuesday -- and he was on the disabled list twice last season.

Cole has thrown 180 2/3 innings this season, nearly reaching his professional career high of 185 1/3, set in 2013. He is obviously an important part of the Pirates' present and future -- one part of the big picture the Bucs considered in making this decision.

"Close to uncharted territory, pretty much," Cole said. "Every start is an opportunity to get better and to learn how your body is feeling and what you need to do moving forward. It's been an evolution throughout the year."

The Pirates also considered what awaited Cole on the other side of his brief time off.

As it stands now, if he pitches on regular rest, Cole's remaining starts will come against the Cubs (twice), Dodgers and Cardinals -- all teams in the postseason race, including two in direct competition with the Pirates.

Cole would also be on schedule to start the first game of whatever postseason round the Pirates wind up in, whether it's the National League Wild Card Game or the NL Division Series.

"We need to play the best baseball we can play," Hurdle said. "So we wanted to give him a pause and then put him in a position to make us the most competitive we can be out of our rotation finishing up."

Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.