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Olney: Teams that need to win this winter's Gerrit Cole sweepstakes

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Cole, Rendon are the crown jewels of 2020 free agency (1:16)

Rick Sutcliffe tabs Gerrit Cole as his top pitching free agent, and Anthony Rendon as his favorite bat hitting the open market. (1:16)

Houston Astros teammates Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole are well positioned in the race to win the American League Cy Young Award, and good luck to the voters who might have to choose between numbers as similar as these:

Verlander: 2.77 ERA, 239 strikeouts, 15-5 won-loss record
Cole: 2.75 ERA, 238 strikeouts, 15-5 W-L

They are at very different stages in their respective careers, with Verlander now well established in Houston and, at age 36, perhaps destined to pitch for the Astros for years to come. Cole turns 29 next month, and is poised to join the exclusive club of starting pitchers who have signed deals for more than $200 million. He'll be a free agent in the fall, seemingly at the peak of his career. ESPN researcher Paul Hembekides dug up the fact that, on Saturday morning, Cole had almost as many strikeouts on pitches thrown at 98 mph with 117 K's as Noah Syndergaard (49), Edwin Diaz (35) and Aroldis Chapman (34) combined.