Baltimore Orioles Interested in Pitcher Alex Cobb

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: Starting pitcher Alex Cobb
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: Starting pitcher Alex Cobb /

The Baltimore Orioles have expressed interest in starting pitcher Alex Cobb. Cobb played for the Tampa Bay Rays last season.

The Baltimore Orioles have expressed interest in starting pitcher Alex Cobb, according to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi on Twitter. Cobb played for the Tampa Bay Rays last season and is one of the most talked-about pitchers on the free agent market.

Cobb, 30, has had some significant success in the major leagues. He came up through the Rays organization and had two straight excellent years with them in 2013 and 2014, pitching to a 2.76 and 2.87 ERA respectively.

Cobb sat out all of 2015 after having Tommy John surgery and only pitched 22 innings in 2016. Last season was his first full season pitching since his surgery, and while he wasn’t back to pre-surgery form, he was still excellent, going 12-10 with a 3.66 ERA, a 1.22 WHIP, and a 6.42 K/9.

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Now, there are reasons to be concerned about Cobb based on that season. He saw a significant drop in his K/9, which previously had hovered around 8.00. A 6.42 K/9 is fairly below average, but it was just one season, it’s entirely possible that he could work on his stuff and get the strikeouts back up.

There’s also the fact that, along with his 3.66 ERA, Cobb had a 4.24 xFIP, which suggests some potential regression. In his two great years with the Rays, Cobb had an xFIP higher than his ERA, but it wasn’t usually that significant, with the differential between the two never being more than 0.46, compared to 0.58 last year. That’s not necessarily a major cause for concern, but it’s worth noting.

As for Cobb’s arsenal, he mainly throws a mix of three pitches. A fastball that averages around 92 MPH (which he threw over 50% of the time last year), a curveball that averages around 81 MPH, and a changeup that averages around 86 MPH.

Cobb’s curveball is his putaway pitch, and it’s an impressive pitch. Here it is striking out Baltimore Orioles outfielder Seth Smith last year:

MLBTradeRumors predicted that Cobb would sign a four-year, $48 million deal with the Minnesota Twins. While the team in that prediction doesn’t really matter for the purposes of our conversation, that contract does, because if the Baltimore Orioles want to sign Cobb, that’s likely around what they’ll have to shell out.

Cobb is a solid starting pitcher, and while I think he still needs a little work to try and get back to his pre-surgery form, he would automatically be the best pitcher in the Baltimore Orioles’ rotation if he came to the league. He’s got plenty of experience in the AL East, obviously, so there’s no need to worry about how he’d perform in the division’s hitter-friendly parks.

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Morosi reports that the Baltimore Orioles are prioritizing their starting rotation early on in this offseason, which is exactly what they should be doing, and signing Alex Cobb would be an excellent first step to rebuilding this rotation.