Hot Stove rumors about potential Baltimore Orioles starting pitchers continue as the team is reportedly showing interest in Alex Cobb.
The Baltimore Orioles need starting pitching and the former Tampa Bay Rays starter is now a free agent. So, he’s fair game.
The team’s interest was declared in a Tweet from Jon Morosi from MLB Network:
The numbers on Alex Cobb
Cobb has been pitching for the Rays since 2011. He did not pitch in 2015 after tearing his ulnar collateral ligament and undergoing Tommy John surgery. His return in 2016 did not fare well, as he pitched in only five games and ran up a hefty 8.59 ERA. But in 2017, he was back to his regular form. He had 27 starts and ended the season with an ERA of 3.66. Prior to his Tommy John surgery, he had an average ERA of 3.21 in four seasons.
Cobb threw in 179.1 innings in 2017, which is the most he’s pitched in a season to date. His career WAR is 10. 9, and his career WHIP is a tidy little 1.217. Like most starting pitchers in 2017, he gave up 22 home runs, but prior to 2017, his season high was 13. Unfortunately, he had his fewest strikeouts in a season, despite pitching in more innings. Back in 2014, Cobb struck out 149 batters, but 2017 saw only 128 Ks.
One of Cobb’s strengths lies in his ability to field his position. He has the highest range factor of any pitcher, beating out athletic contemporaries like Marcus Stroman, Sonny Gray, and Corey Kluber.
Where Cobb ranks
Cobb would be a helpful addition to the O’s rotation. At age 30, he has more experience than Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman. And, his numbers are better. He finished 11th in ERA in the American League squeezing between Sonny Gray and Michael Fulmer. Cobb’s WHIP put him in 10th, again just behind Gray, but slightly better than Masahiro Tanaka. Bundy’s WHIP of 1.20 was actually better than Cobb’s. All of the Baltimore starters gave up more home runs than Cobb did – but they did pitch half of their games in Camden Yards, where the walls are closer to home plate than they are at Tropicana Field.
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What he throws
As the Orioles are in serious need of pitching, Cobb would be a positive addition to the team. He is a ground-ball pitcher, which would keep his home run numbers low in Camden Yards. Prior to his surgery, Cobb loved his split-change – so much so that he named it “The Thing.” He rarely used it in the first half of the 2017 season, but he brought it back in the second half and saw more success with it.
Even though his fastball isn’t that fast – it averages in the low 90s, it’s ok. He’s all about placement and deception. His changeup is in the mid-80s and his curve averages 80 MPH. But this is how pitching is done today; if you can’t hit the high 90s, then the ball has to move. Cobb does that and he does it well.
If Cobb came to Baltimore, he would most likely be the first or second in the rotation – depending on who else arrives this off-season. If Dan Duquette can get him for an affordable price (Cobb made $4.2 million in 2017), then by all means, he should sign him.