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As we head into the All-Star break, there might be one player with more questions around him than anyone else in Fantasy Baseball: Gerrit Cole

That's not how it was supposed to go. Cole entered the season as one of the three bonafide super aces, alongside Shane Bieber and (slightly behind) Jacob deGrom. He had an ERA below 3.00 in three straight seasons, posting a 2.71 mark with a 0.962 WHIP and 12.9 K/9 over the previous three seasons. He hasn't missed a start since 2016, and he was cruising through the first two months of this season, sporting a 1.78 ERA and 0.835 WHIP with 97 strikeouts in 70.2 innings of work. Bieber had struggled with his command, deGrom had left several starts with injury, but Cole was rolling through lineups, just like he was supposed to.

Since? Cole has a 5.24 ERA in six starts with just three quality starts and only 38 strikeouts in 34.1 innings of work. That wouldn't be particularly alarming on its own -- he had a 4.71 ERA through his first four starts in 2019 and a 4.19 ERA in six August starts last season -- except that it has coincided with MLB's crackdown on foreign substances. 

Cole's average spin rate on his fastball fell from 2,556 RPM in May to 2,398 in June, and it was down to 2,355 in his lone July start. That in spite of the fact his velocity is actually up about 1 mph since May -- spin rate typically increases alongside velocity. We can't know for sure how much the correlation here is causal, but the trend seems pretty clear: Cole has been a different, less effective pitcher since the crackdown. 

That leaves Fantasy players with a lot of questions about how to proceed with someone we thought would be one of the most valuable players in the game. Cole hasn't been all bad in that span, but he certainly hasn't been his typically dominant self, even in the good starts. 

If he's on your roster, you're probably wondering whether you should try to trade him before he drags your team down in the second half. If you don't have him, you're probably wondering whether it's even worth trying to buy low.

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Well, if you look at my trade values chart, you'll see that while I have moved Cole down, he's still firmly at the top of the second tier of pitchers. deGrom stands alone, but Cole is right there with Max Scherzer, Yu Darvish, and Brandon Woodruff. He hasn't looked like that pitcher for the past month-plus, but I'm confident he can be that guy. 

Why? Well, for one thing, the stuff is still really, really good. He still averages 98 mph with his fastball, and he still has three other pitches he can throw for strikes or for chases. His slider still had a 45.5% whiff rate in June, while his curveball and changeup were right in line with where they'd been in May. The results haven't been good, but he's still doing a good job suppressing hard contact with his secondary pitches, too. 

Plus, while his spin rate is down significantly since the start of this season and compared to 2020, he's not far off from where he was with the Astros. In 2018, he averaged 2,379 RPM with his four-seamer while throwing 1.5 mph less than he currently is. That was Cole's breakout season, as he had a 2.88 ERA while leading the majors in K/9 over 200.1 innings of work. 

As bad as Cole has been lately, I still have a lot of confidence that he'll continue to be a very, very good pitcher moving forward. Maybe he won't challenge for the No. 1 spot at the position, but I'll take the under on a 3.25 ERA and the over on 11.0 K/9. 

But maybe you don't share my optimism. You've got him on your team, let's say, and you've watched enough of his starts to know that, despite all his velocity, he just doesn't have it. I'll grant that premise and still tell you that selling low on Cole is the wrong move. You're selling him at the absolute lowest point his value has been since 2017, at least, at a time when his struggles amid the crackdown on foreign substances have been one of the most talked about topics in baseball. Unless Cole has a 5.00-plus ERA for the next month too, this is the lowest his trade value is ever going to get, and that's just a bad process.

Even if you think Cole doesn't have it, trading him coming off his two worst starts of the season is the wrong move. Because before those two starts, he allowed six runs over 21 innings and looked like he was, if not all the way back, at least still pitching well. He's going to have a start or two where he looks like himself and, if you really want to trade him, that's the time to do it. And you shouldn't do it for anything less than one of the other pitchers in his tier: Scherzer, Darvish, Woodruff, etc. 

The problem is, if you're trying to trade for him, it's going to be tough to bring yourself to give up that much. And you shouldn't! Just like this is the wrong time for someone who has Cole to try to trade him, this is the perfect time to try to trade for him. But you have to make sure you're buying low. An Aaron Nola or Lance Lynn would be a good option if you could pull it off. Just hope whoever has him isn't reading this column! 

Ultimately, the point is that you want Cole on your team for the second half. Maybe it won't work out; maybe he really doesn't have it, and he isn't going to figure out how to find it. That would stink. But it would be worse to watch Cole turn back into one of the best pitchers in baseball on someone else's team. deGrom is probably the only pitcher with more upside than Cole has for the second half, and if you're going to win a championship, having Cole on your side when he does figure it out will go a long way to getting you there.

It's all about your personal level of risk tolerance, but despite his struggles lately, I still want Cole on my side. 

Here are my updated trade values for Week 15:

H2H Points Trade Values

Name Value Change From Last Week
Jacob deGrom501
Ronald Acuna48
Vladimir Guerrero452
Juan Soto44
Fernando Tatis42
Jose Ramirez42
Mookie Betts42
Gerrit Cole40-7
Max Scherzer40
Yu Darvish39
Freddie Freeman39
Brandon Woodruff391
Trea Turner38
Xander Bogaerts36
Bryce Harper36
Shohei Ohtani (DH)343
Lucas Giolito32-1
Trevor Story32
Aaron Nola32
Lance Lynn321
Zack Wheeler32
Corbin Burnes31
Rafael Devers31
Aaron Judge312
Manny Machado30-2
Bo Bichette28
Francisco Lindor26
Jose Altuve26
Mike Trout26
Whit Merrifield262
Kyle Tucker25
Walker Buehler25
Nick Castellanos251
Kevin Gausman252
Alex Bregman24-2
Christian Yelich24-1
Joe Musgrove24
Nolan Arenado24
Ozzie Albies241
Shane Bieber23-5
Cody Bellinger23-1
Jose Abreu23
Anthony Rendon22-3
Kris Bryant22-1
J.D. Martinez22-1
Sandy Alcantara21
Carlos Rodon212
George Springer20
Charlie Morton20
Kyle Hendricks20
Yordan Alvarez201
Kenta Maeda201
Max Muncy202
Pete Alonso19
Jose Berrios19
Giancarlo Stanton18
Matt Olson183
Luis Castillo183
Clayton Kershaw17-15
Nelson Cruz17
Josh Hader17
J.T. Realmuto17
Ian Anderson17
Tim Anderson16-5
Zack Greinke16
Jesse Winker15
Liam Hendriks15
Starling Marte15
Pablo Lopez15
Julio Urias15
Trent Grisham151
Robbie Ray152
Sonny Gray153
Teoscar Hernandez154
Hyun-Jin Ryu14-3
Corey Seager14-1
Paul Goldschmidt14
Marcus Semien14
Salvador Perez14
Freddy Peralta14
Carlos Correa14
Shohei Ohtani (SP)141
Luke Voit143
DJ LeMahieu13
Anthony Rizzo13
Edwin Diaz13
Austin Meadows13
Trevor Rogers131
Cedric Mullins132
Ketel Marte12
Randy Arozarena12
Charlie Blackmon12
Aroldis Chapman12
Carlos Santana12
Max Fried12
Ke'Bryan Hayes12
Gleyber Torres11-1
Javier Baez11
Michael Brantley11
Jack Flaherty10-2
Raisel Iglesias10
Alex Verdugo10
Kenley Jansen10
Mike Yastrzemski10
Jared Walsh10
Josh Donaldson10
Kyle Schwarber10
Gary Sanchez10
Will Smith (C)9
Chris Paddack9
Craig Kimbrel9
Trey Mancini9
Rhys Hoskins9
Mitch Haniger9
Bryan Reynolds9
Joey Gallo92
Blake Snell8-2
Tyler Mahle8
Lance McCullers8
Dansby Swanson8
Will Smith (RP)8
Frankie Montas8
Willson Contreras8
Marcus Stroman8
Mark Melancon8
Yoan Moncada8
Jake Cronenworth8
Cavan Biggio81
German Marquez81
Tarik Skubal82
Austin Riley7
Mark Canha7
Framber Valdez7
Matt Chapman7
Brandon Crawford7
Ryan Mountcastle7
Joey Votto72
Ryan McMahon6-1
Wil Myers6-1
Tommy Pham6
Shane McClanahan6
Michael Conforto6
Wander Franco6
Matt Barnes6
Yusei Kikuchi6
John Means6
Dylan Cease6
Jonathan India6
Alex Reyes61
Willy Adames61
Chris Sale62
Stephen Strasburg62
Eugenio Suarez5-1
Emmanuel Clase5-1
Jazz Chisholm5-1
Zach Eflin5-1
Max Kepler5
Jeff McNeil5
Tyler Glasnow5
Zac Gallen5
Tommy Edman5
James Karinchak5
Sean Manaea5
Justin Turner5
Yuli Gurriel5
Patrick Corbin5
Ryan Pressly5
Christian Vazquez5
Adam Wainwright5
Eduardo Rodriguez5
Adolis Garcia5
Chris Bassitt51
Omar Narvaez51
Franmil Reyes52
Zach Plesac52
Keston Hiura52
Avisail Garcia4-1
Eric Hosmer4-1
Lourdes Gurriel4
Justin Upton4
Andrew McCutchen4
Kolten Wong4
Jorge Polanco4
Jordan Montgomery4
Rich Hill4
Michael Pineda4
Dallas Keuchel4
Dylan Bundy4
Brandon Lowe4
Anthony DeSclafani4
Jonathan Schoop4
Kendall Graveman4
Luis Garcia4
Josh Bell41
Tony Gonsolin41
Dominic Smith41
Andrew Benintendi42
Eddie Rosario3-3
Gio Urshela3-1
Chris Taylor3
Cristian Javier3
Taijuan Walker3
Adam Duvall3
James Kaprielian3
Luis Urias3
Jordan Romano3
Jesus Aguilar3-1
Jean Segura3
Mike Minor3
Jake Diekman3
Taylor Rogers3
Buster Posey3
Diego Castillo3
Isiah Kiner-Falefa3
Raimel Tapia3
Adbert Alzolay3
Brendan Rodgers3
Andrew Heaney3
Marco Gonzales3
Alex Wood3
Akil Baddoo3
Jesus Sanchez3
Randal Grichuk3
Sean Murphy3
Tyler O'Neill3
Evan Longoria3
Joc Pederson31
Logan Gilbert31
Hector Neris2-4
Manuel Margot2-1
Amed Rosario2-1
Casey Mize2-1
Jake Odorizzi2
Kyle Seager2
Lucas Sims2
Alex Cobb2
Hunter Renfroe2
Max Stassi2
Patrick Sandoval2
Jake Fraley2
Jorge Soler2
Nathan Eovaldi2
Ty France2
Cesar Hernandez2
Alec Bohm2
Jed Lowrie2
Ramon Laureano2
Dylan Carlson2
Adalberto Mondesi2
Kole Calhoun2
Myles Straw2
Ross Stripling2
Steven Duggar2

Roto Trade Values

Name Value Change From Last Week
Ronald Acuna43
Fernando Tatis43
Jacob deGrom411
Juan Soto39
Trea Turner39
Vladimir Guerrero392
Jose Ramirez38
Mookie Betts37
Gerrit Cole34-3
Max Scherzer341
Shohei Ohtani (DH)343
Yu Darvish331
Brandon Woodruff331
Bryce Harper32
Freddie Freeman32
Xander Bogaerts32
Trevor Story31
Manny Machado28
Bo Bichette28
Zack Wheeler28
Rafael Devers27
Whit Merrifield272
Corbin Burnes26
J.D. Martinez25-1
Lucas Giolito25-1
Francisco Lindor25
Kyle Tucker25
Mike Trout25
Nick Castellanos251
Kevin Gausman252
Tim Anderson24-2
Kris Bryant24-1
Aaron Nola24
Aaron Judge24
Walker Buehler24
Carlos Rodon242
Jose Altuve23
Christian Yelich23
Cody Bellinger22-1
Ozzie Albies22
Anthony Rendon21
Pete Alonso21
Starling Marte21
Jose Abreu21
Matt Olson213
Shane Bieber20-5
Giancarlo Stanton20
Nolan Arenado20
Joe Musgrove20
Yordan Alvarez201
Nelson Cruz19
George Springer19
Lance Lynn191
Alex Bregman18
Liam Hendriks17
Josh Hader17
Max Muncy17
Sandy Alcantara17
Teoscar Hernandez171
Trent Grisham171
Luis Castillo173
J.T. Realmuto16
Jesse Winker16
Salvador Perez16
Edwin Diaz16
Ke'Bryan Hayes16
Charlie Morton16
Julio Urias15
Randy Arozarena15
Javier Baez15
Pablo Lopez15
Kyle Hendricks15
Trevor Rogers151
Robbie Ray152
Corey Seager14-1
Marcus Semien14
Aroldis Chapman14
Shohei Ohtani (SP)141
Cedric Mullins141
Paul Goldschmidt13
DJ LeMahieu13
Austin Meadows13
Ian Anderson13
Carlos Correa13
Craig Kimbrel13
Freddy Peralta13
Jose Berrios13
Kenley Jansen13
Alex Verdugo13
Jared Walsh13
Kenta Maeda131
Joey Gallo132
Clayton Kershaw12-15
Ketel Marte12
Hyun-Jin Ryu12
Yoan Moncada12
Charlie Blackmon12
Raisel Iglesias12
Michael Brantley12
Kyle Schwarber12
Matt Chapman12
Gary Sanchez12
Sonny Gray123
Zack Greinke11
Max Fried11
Trey Mancini11
Luke Voit11
Mitch Haniger10
Anthony Rizzo10
Will Smith (C)10
Willson Contreras10
Josh Donaldson10
Jake Cronenworth10
Bryan Reynolds10
Dylan Cease10
Tommy Pham10
Zach Plesac102
Jack Flaherty9-2
Brad Hand9
Mark Melancon9
Rhys Hoskins9
Will Smith (RP)9
Jeff McNeil9
Michael Conforto9
Alex Reyes91
Jazz Chisholm8-1
Adalberto Mondesi8
Lourdes Gurriel8
Dansby Swanson8
Tommy Edman8
Framber Valdez8
Mark Canha8
Justin Turner8
Ryan Pressly8
Carlos Santana8
Marcus Stroman8
Tyler O'Neill8
German Marquez81
Franmil Reyes82
Tarik Skubal82
Eddie Rosario7-3
Gleyber Torres7-1
Ryan McMahon7-1
Wil Myers7-1
Ramon Laureano7
Wander Franco7
Adolis Garcia7
Buster Posey7
Kolten Wong7
Chris Paddack7
Zac Gallen7
Ryan Mountcastle7
Cavan Biggio71
Chris Sale72
Victor Robles6
Blake Snell6
Brandon Crawford6
Austin Riley6
Tyler Mahle6
John Means6
Brandon Lowe6
Matt Barnes6
Sean Manaea6
James Karinchak6
Lance McCullers6
Chris Taylor6
Isiah Kiner-Falefa6
Yuli Gurriel6
Christian Vazquez6
Mike Yastrzemski6
Randal Grichuk6
Kendall Graveman6
Jonathan India6
Shane McClanahan6
Chris Bassitt61
Omar Narvaez61
Willy Adames61
Andrew Benintendi62
Alek Manoah64
Gio Urshela5-1
Emmanuel Clase5-1
Eugenio Suarez5-1
Byron Buxton5
Max Kepler5
Dylan Carlson5
Eduardo Rodriguez5
Taylor Rogers5
Frankie Montas5
Jean Segura5
Raimel Tapia5
Yusei Kikuchi5
Myles Straw5
Brendan Rodgers5
Didi Gregorius51
Dominic Smith51
Joey Votto52
Zach Eflin4-1
Mike Moustakas4-1
Jesus Aguilar4-1
Avisail Garcia4-1
C.J. Cron4-1
Alec Bohm4
Tyler Glasnow4
Nate Lowe4
Jorge Polanco4
Andrew McCutchen4
Cristian Javier4
Justin Upton4
Patrick Corbin4
Andrew Heaney4
Adam Wainwright4
Diego Castillo4
Akil Baddoo4
Anthony DeSclafani4
Sean Murphy4
Jonathan Schoop4
Ian Kennedy4
Garrett Hampson4
Josh Bell41
Stephen Strasburg42
Ian Happ3-1
Amed Rosario3-1
Dylan Bundy3
Gavin Lux3
Alex Kirilloff3
Michael Pineda3
Jorge Soler3
Jordan Montgomery3
Mike Minor3
Nathan Eovaldi3
Jake Odorizzi3
Jordan Romano3
Taijuan Walker3
Adam Duvall3
James Kaprielian3
Luis Urias3
Ty France3
Rich Hill3
Adbert Alzolay3
Jo Adell3
Jesus Sanchez3
Andrew Vaughn31
Joc Pederson31
Tony Gonsolin31
Logan Gilbert31
Eric Hosmer2-1
Anthony Santander2-1
Casey Mize2-1
Alex Wood2
J.T. Brubaker2
Jonathan Villar2
Luis Severino2
Nick Senzel2
Dallas Keuchel2
Yadier Molina2
James McCann2
Richard Rodriguez2
Jake Diekman2
Tejay Antone2
Hunter Renfroe2
Lucas Sims2
Jake McGee2
Kyle Seager2
Max Stassi2
Alex Cobb2
Patrick Sandoval2
Jake Fraley2
Cesar Hernandez2
Eduardo Escobar2
Kole Calhoun2
Jon Gray21
Zack Collins22
Keston Hiura22
Joe Ross22