In an interesting article titled Alex Cobb adjusting to life without his changeup, Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times) wrote about the evolution of the Cobb’s pitch repertoire.
Topkin noted that Cobb made a fundamental change in his repertoire:
…throwing his curveball more frequently and in more pressing situations. On Monday he threw it 43 times, and his changeup only 10, in 102 pitches.
The reason for the change? Due to the fact that a changeup is a feel pitch, it takes longer to regain the muscle memory needed to throw it with consistency. And because he can’t rely upon his split-changeup at the moment to get swings and misses, Cobb has become fond of his curveball.
Get in those situations where I need that swing and miss, and that’s my best offspeed pitch right now. You kind of learn to go with whatever the hot hand is that day. My whole career I’ve been changeup dominant and going to that when needing swing and misses and strikeouts.
So I just have to relearn how to pitch a little bit using the curveball. It’s a great pitch. But I can’t wait for all three of them to be here.
The question begs, are the results thus far at least complimentary to that of Cobb in his prime?
Cobb went 21-12 with a 2.82 ERA/3.29 FIP in the 2014 and 2015 seasons, combining for a 7.9 WAR. Yet he returned from Tommy John surgery last season (in September) and went 1-2 with an 8.59 ERA/5.60 FIP, with a -0.8 WAR.
Jim Turvey (DRaysBay) found that in two-strike counts, a time when he once went to the splitter reliably, Cobb has thrown the splitter just 22 percent of the time in his two 2017 starts. Instead, it has been the sinker and the curveball each getting over 30 percent usage.
So far the results have been good. Cobb has slashed 3.46 ERA/4.74 FIP/3.42 xFIP over 13 innings of work while allowing five earned runs, and posted an 11/2 strike to ball rate. He’s also induced whiffs on his breaking stuff 18.75% of the time.
In short, Cobb has been effective thus far. However, the right-hander knows something that we may not — when he said, “I can’t wait for all three of them to be here,” he knows that in order for him to be effective over the long-term, he must get back to being a three-pitch hurler before the league catches up to him.
Stats and figures: FanGraphs and Brooks Baseball (unless otherwise noted)
Rays holiday uniforms
MLB has unveiled its new line of Special Event uniforms for the 2017 season, including those to be worn by the Rays (seen above).
Some are pretty great looking (Father’s Day uniforms and All-Star Game hats), while others are pretty overwhelming (I’m looking at you Memorial Day and Home Run Derby uniforms).
A detailed look at the uniforms, hats and socks can be found below, thanks to SportsLogos.net.