Blue Jays Opposing Pitcher Report: Alex Cobb

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 23: Alex Cobb #17 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning on May 23, 2018 at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - MAY 23: Alex Cobb #17 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning on May 23, 2018 at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /

On Sunday, June 10, the Blue Jays look to complete a four-game sweep against the Baltimore Orioles. Former prized free agent Alex Cobb takes the mound for the Orioles. Marco Estrada will climb the hill for the Blue Jays.

Alex Cobb was drafted in the fourth round of the 2006 amateur players draft by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. After eleven years in the Rays system, Cobb left for the AL East rival Baltimore Orioles in free agency.

As was the case for most free agents this offseason, Cobb had to wait for a contract late into the year. In fact, the former Rays ace had to wait until March 20th until he had a major league contract. After a stressful few months, the right-hander signed a four year, $57 million contract with the Orioles.

Cobb is the second of a pair of offseason signings that have been less than expected this season for the Orioles. The Blue Jays faced off against their first disappointment, Andrew Cashner, on Friday night.

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Also like Cashner, Cobb is the victim of BABIP regression. Last season he posted a 12-10 record and a good 3.66 ERA. However, his FIP was 4.16, and his xFIP was 4.24. Both numbers suggest that he was the beneficiary of great defence.

Through ten starts this season, the right-handed hurler has felt the full force of this regression, posting a 2-7 record, 6.19 ERA, 4.93 FIP, 1.662 WHIP, and 67 ERA+. Overall, he has been worth just 0.3 fWAR.

The veteran mixes between a wide array of pitches, but relies heavily on his sinker. In total, he offers a sinker, curveball, splitter, four seam fastball, and change-up. Interestingly, the righty added the change to his repertoire this year, as he had never used a straight change in previous years.

The sinker, by far the right-hander’s favourite pitch, has been used 53.3% of the time this season. The sinking fastball averages a velocity of 92.04 mph, with slight arm side run and drop. It has produced a pretty good rate of ground balls, at 48.98% of balls in play. However, the pitch has also allowed line drives at a poor rate of 26.53% of balls in play.

The curveball has been used 25.1% of the time, maintaining a quick velocity of 81.5 mph. Along with the velocity, the hook has good glove side run and substantial drop. Despite the solid movement, the breaking ball has produced whiffs on just 19.78% of swings. As well, hitters have managed a massive .480 BAA, .840 SLGA, and .360 ISO against the big breaker.

Cobb has offered splitters to opposing batters 16.7% of the time this season. The splitter, which averages a quick 87.21 mph, maintains similar finishing drop and arm side run to Kevin Gausman’s splitter. Despite the impressive movement, batters have demolished the off speed pitch, hitting for an astronomic .640 SLGA and four home runs.

The veteran righty completes his offerings with occasional four seam fastballs and change-ups. The fastball and change-up have been used 2.6% and 2.4% of the time, respectively. The heater maintains an average velocity of 92.45 mph and has produced ground balls on 60% of balls in play. The change maintains a quick 87.69 mph and has allowed a great .143 BAA.

Cobb has never been a strikeout pitcher. However, this year, those numbers have dropped considerably. Last season, the righty struck batters out 17.3% of the time. This season, he has punched out batters just 13.5% of the time.

Over his past two starts, the righty has looked more like his old self. Against the Nationals on May 28, he allowed just three earned runs over seven complete innings. Against the Mets on June 5, he pitched six innings of one run-ball.

The Blue Jays have had their fair share of struggles against the veteran right-hander. Devon Travis, recently sidelined by a sore knee, has managed just one double in eight at-bats. As well, Kendrys Morales has four hits and five strikeouts in 18 career at-bats against the Boston native. Kevin Pillar and Curtis Granderson own great past records against Cobb, though. Pillar is three-for-nine with a .455 OBP and Granderson is three-for-ten with a .533 OBP.

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The Blue Jays have been the beneficiaries of excellent starting pitching over the past few games. However, the offence will likely need to break out before extra innings against Cobb. While walk, walk-offs are hilarious, the offence needs to stop hiding behind the strong starters and produce some runs.