Cole totaled 132 Minor League innings as a first-year pro last season, and Friday's six-inning outing put him at 140 this season. Cole confirmed there is no red-line number of innings or pitches that he will be kept under, but he understands there will be some reins.
"And I'm OK with that. They [pitching coach Ray Searage and Hurdle] are openly communicating with me, letting me know what's going on," Cole said. "Doing things to extend my season is fine; I just don't want to be distracted by having to keep track of innings or pitches while I'm on the mound."
The Cole plan is fluid; Hurdle and staff regularly discuss his situation, looking for ways that best serve him and the team. There seem to be two locked-in elements: Cole will be skipped around every scheduled off-day (three remain, the next is Aug. 26), when that can be done without affecting the other starters; and he would pitch out of the bullpen in the postseason.
Following that agenda, Cole would have five starts remaining, putting his innings load approximately at 170 innings, including the 68 at Triple-A Indianapolis prior to his June 11 callup.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.