Alex Cobb

Alexander Miller Cobb (born October 7, 1987), nicknamed Swan,[1] is an American professional baseball pitcher for the San Francisco Giants of Major League Baseball (MLB). He was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the fourth round of the 2006 MLB draft, and made his MLB debut for them in 2011. He previously played for the Rays from 2011 through 2017, the Baltimore Orioles from 2018 to 2020, and the Los Angeles Angels in 2021.

Alex Cobb
Cobb with the Baltimore Orioles in 2019
San Francisco Giants – No. 38
Pitcher
Born: (1987-10-07) October 7, 1987
Boston, Massachusetts
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
MLB debut
May 1, 2011, for the Tampa Bay Rays
MLB statistics
(through 2022 season)
Win–loss record70–68
Earned run average3.85
Strikeouts967
Teams

Early life

Cobb was born in Boston, Massachusetts. to Lindsay Miller-Cobb and Rick Cobb, an accountant.[2][1] He lived in North Reading, Massachusetts, for the first two years of his life, after which his family relocated to Vero Beach, Florida, due to employment.[2][3][4] As a youth, Cobb served as a batboy for the Los Angeles Dodgers at Holman Stadium in Vero Beach for three years of spring training. He grew up a Boston Red Sox fan.[2]

Cobb graduated from Vero Beach High School in 2006. While there, he was an all-state pitcher as a junior as he had a 8–2 win–loss record with an 0.62 earned run average (ERA) and 139 strikeouts in 90 innings pitched.[5] As a senior, he was named the Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers All-Area Baseball Player of the Year after going 5–3 with a 1.06 ERA and 139 strikeouts in 74 innings, and batting .342 with five home runs and 17 runs batted in (RBIs).[5] He also played quarterback for the football team.[6] Cobb committed to play college baseball at Clemson University.[7]

Professional career

Tampa Bay Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays selected Cobb in the fourth round of the 2006 Major League Baseball draft, and he signed for a $400,000 signing bonus.[8][9] He played in their farm system from 2006 to 2010.[10] In 2006 with Princeton he was 0-0 with a 5.19 ERA in 8.2 innings.[11] In 2007 with Hudson Valley he was 5-6 with a 3.54 ERA in 81.1 innings.[11] In 2008 with Columbus he was 9-7 with a 3.29 ERA in 139.2 innings, and was a mid-season SAL All Star.[10][11] In 2009 with Charlotte he was 8-5 with a 3.03 ERA in 124.2 innings.[11]

In 2010, he pitched the entire season with Double-A Montgomery. He was 7–5 as he pitched in 23 games (22 starts) with a 2.71 ERA (4th in the Southern League and in the Rays organization), had 128 strikeouts (3rd in the League and tied for 4th in the Rays' system) in 119.2 innings, and as a starter his 9.51 strikeouts/9 innings ratio led the league.[1]

2011

Cobb was called up to the majors for the first time on May 1, 2011, and made his major league debut that day. He was optioned back to the minors after the game.[12] On May 31, Cobb was recalled back to the majors.[13] On June 7, he earned his first major league victory while starting for the Rays. Cobb pitched for 613 innings and the Rays defeated the Angels 4–1.[14]

In late July, Cobb began to experience numbness and swelling in his right arm. After an August 5 start, he required surgery to remove a blood clot and blockage in the area of his first right rib and remove part of one of his ribs.[15] The two surgeries ended his 2011 season.[16] With Tampa Bay in 2011 he was 3–2 with a 3.42 ERA in nine starts covering 52.2 innings.[17]

2012

Cobb was invited to spring training in 2012, but sent to minor league camp to begin the season.[18] He was called up to fill in for Jeff Niemann while Niemann was injured.[3] On August 23, 2012, Cobb pitched his first career complete-game shutout against the Oakland Athletics.[19] He ended the season with a 11–9 record and a 4.03 ERA in 23 starts covering 136.1 innings at the major league level.[9][17]

2013

Cobb being lifted onto a stretcher after being struck in the head by a line drive, June 15, 2013.

Cobb was named the American League Player of the Week for the week ending September 22, 2013.[1]

On May 10, Cobb struck out four batters in a single inning.[20] He also gave up one run in that inning after the batter stole second base, third base, and was then balked home for the first time in recorded baseball.[21]

Cobb was struck in the head by a line drive off the bat of Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer on June 15. Cobb was carried off the field on a stretcher, and transported to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg, Florida. It was reported that Cobb suffered a mild concussion and had a cut on his right ear, while all other scans and tests came back normal, and he would be discharged the next day.[22] Cobb suffered nausea, headaches, and vertigo, and missed two months, making his return on August 15.[23][24]

In 22 starts of 2013, Cobb finished the year 11–3 with a 2.76 ERA (19.2 innings short of qualifying for the 4th-best ERA in the AL), and a .228 batting average against.[1] His 72.6 ground ball percentage would have ranked highest in the majors had he qualified.[1] His .786 win–loss percentage was the 4th-best in the league among pitchers with 10 or more wins.[1]

During the 2013 MLB postseason, Cobb started two games, earning a win for the Rays in the American League Wild Card game over the Cleveland Indians, and starting in game three of the American League Division Series against the Boston Red Sox. Though Cobb pitched well enough that the Rays won game three, he did not earn the win in the decision; the game was decided several innings after he ended his five-inning performance when his teammate, José Lobatón, hit a walk-off home run in the final at bat of the game.

2014

One year later, Cobb endorsed a product designed to help protect young ballplayers from similar injuries: the isoBLOX padded cap insert. The insert, a skull cap which fits underneath adjustable or stretch caps, is based on the same technology Major League Baseball approved for on-field use in 2014.[25] "If boys and girls start wearing protective inserts, it will become second nature for them when they’re older," Cobb said.[26]

In 2014, Cobb went 10–9 with a 2.87 ERA (6th-best in the AL, and 4th-best in team history) in 27 starts.[17][1] His 7.683 hits per 9 innings were 4th-best in the AL, and his 0.60 home runs per 9 innings were 6th-best.[17] He received the lowest run-support of all AL pitchers, at 3.63 runs per 9 innings.[1]

2015

To begin the 2015 season, Cobb was placed on the 15-day disabled list due to right forearm tendinitis, missing what would have been his first Opening Day start.[1][27] On May 5, 2015, it was revealed that his elbow was diagnosed with a partial tear of the UCL.[28] Three days later, it was announced that he would undergo Tommy John surgery, therefore ending his 2015 season.[29]

2016

Cobb began the 2016 season on the 60-day disabled list. He returned to the Rays’ rotation towards the end of the season, but was not effective. In five starts covering 22 innings, Cobb was 1–2 and posted an 8.59 ERA.[30]

2017

After Cobb returned from Tommy John surgery, he completely changed the usage of his pitches. Due to the health of his arm and his rehabilitation program, Cobb was not allowed to throw his split-finger fastball, his most dominant and often-used pitch. Cobb went back to using his four-seam fastball and an improved, and more commonly used, curveball.[31]

Due to the success of Cobb's first 10 starts of the 2017 season (3.82 ERA) and his impending free-agency, the Rays were reported to be shopping the starter if they were to fall out of the playoff race or if they felt they had the depth to lose Cobb.[32][33] After an injury to Matt Andriese and poor play by Blake Snell coupled with Cobb's flashes of high potential, the Rays stated that they were not actively shopping Cobb, instead planning on utilizing him as a key piece for the regular season and playoffs.[34] After a poor May and early June, Cobb showed signs of brilliance, constantly pitching late into games, getting weak contact, and consistently keeping his pitch count down. Between June 9 and July 26, Cobb recorded 9 quality starts in 10 games, pitching 7 or more innings in 6 of those games. In that stretch, he went 5–1 and lowered his ERA from 4.52 to 3.46, even flirting with a no-hitter through 7 innings against the Pirates.[35]

Cobb ended the season 12–10 with a 3.66 ERA in 177 innings over 29 starts.[17] His whiff percentage was 16.9%, in the bottom 4% in baseball.[36] His 1.41 range factor on defense was the best among AL pitchers.[17] He was named the winner of the Paul C. Smith Champion Award, which goes to the Rays player who best exemplifies the spirit of true professionalism on and off the field.

Baltimore Orioles

On March 20, 2018, Cobb agreed to a four-year deal worth $57 million with the Baltimore Orioles.[37] On September 23, he aggravated a blister, keeping him out for the remainder of the season.

He finished the first season of his 4-year contract with a 5–15 record in 28 starts with a 4.90 ERA. He struck out 102 batters in 152+13 innings.[17]

On March 13, 2019, the team announced that Cobb would be the team's Opening Day starter.[38] A week later, however, he was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a right groin strain to start the season.[1][39] He was placed on the disabled list for a third time on April 28 with a lumbar strain.[40] At the time of the injury, Cobb had allowed 9 home runs in 12+13 innings. He was transferred to the 60-day disabled list on May 22. On June 11, it was revealed Cobb needed to undergo hip surgery, and he was ruled out for the rest of the season.

In 2019, in only 12.1 innings pitched, he was 0–2 with a 10.95 ERA in three starts.[17]

In 2020 for the Orioles, Cobb pitched to a 2–5 record with a 4.30 ERA and 38 strikeouts over 52.1 innings pitched in 10 starts.[41] Batters hit hard-hit balls against him 48.2% of the time, putting him in the worst 4% of baseball pitchers in that category.[36]

Los Angeles Angels

On February 2, 2021, Cobb was traded to the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for second baseman Jahmai Jones. The Orioles also agreed to pay over half of the remaining $15 million on Cobb's salary.[42] During the season he had stints on the injured list due to both blisters and right wrist inflammation.[43]

In 2021 he was 8–3 with a 3.76 ERA and 98 strikeouts in 93.1 innings (a career-high 9.5 batters per 9 innings) over 18 starts.[44][17] He had the third-lowest home runs/9 innings pitched rate among starters with at least 90 innings. He also was in the top 94% among qualified pitchers in "barrel rate," as he gave up a barrel (high exit velocity and ideal launch angle) on only 4.2% of batted balls against him, and in the top 93% on his career-best "chase rate" (the percentage of pitches outside the strike zone that he induces batter to swing at).[45][46][47][48]

San Francisco Giants

On November 30, 2021, the San Francisco Giants signed Cobb to a two-year, $20 million contract with a $10 million club option for his third season.[49]

In 2022 with the Giants, he was 7-8 with a 3.73 ERA in 23 starts, as in 149.2 innings he struck out 151 batters (a career high).[50] He was in the top 4% in "lowest barrel-rate against," among MLB pitchers.[36] On defense he led all NL pitchers in double plays turned, with four.[50]

Pitching style

Cobb throws four pitches: a sinker (his most-used pitch in 2021) and a four-seam fastball, each averaging about 93 mph, a splitter in the high 80s (his second-most used pitch in 2021), and a knuckle curve in the low 80s. Nearly half of his pitches with 2 strikes in 2021 were splitters.[51]

Personal life

Cobb proposed to his girlfriend, Kelly Reynolds, in February 2014 at the Discovery Cove in Orlando.[52] They have been married since 2016 and have two daughters together.[53]

Cobb's brother, R. J., is a United States Army officer who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and earned a Purple Heart.[1][2][3] R. J. is four years older than Alex. Their mother, a nurse practitioner, died in December 2005 at 49 years of age as the result of a stroke, when he was a senior in high school.[1][54]

See also

References

  1. "Alex Cobb Stats, Fantasy & News". MLB.com.
  2. "Cobb: 'Really cool' pitching against hometown Sox". Comcast SportsNet – CSNNE.com. Archived from the original on September 23, 2015. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
  3. "Alex Cobb grows into a Tampa Bay Ray despite his Red Sox upbringing". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
  4. "Smitty on Baseball » Blog Archive » Ex-North Reading resident and Tampa pitcher Alex Cobb grew up through tragedy". eagletribune.com. Archived from the original on December 11, 2014. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
  5. "Ray McNulty: Tampa Bay Rays' Alex Cobb honored as Vero Beach High School retires his baseball jersey". www.tcpalm.com.
  6. "Alex Cobb grows into a Tampa Bay Ray despite his Red Sox upbringing". Tampa Bay Times.
  7. Hissey, Tyler (June 2, 2008). "Cobb Anchors Catfish Rotation". Rays Digest. 247Sports.com. Retrieved January 7, 2018.
  8. "Alex Cobb - Stats - The Baseball Cube". TheBaseballCube.com.
  9. Whitmer, Michael (May 27, 2012). "Boston Red Sox – Hometown winner Alex Cobb lost in Red Sox-Rays scuffle". The Boston Globe. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
  10. "Alex Cobb Stats, Fantasy & News". MiLB.com.
  11. "Alex Cobb Minor & Fall Leagues Statistics". Baseball-Reference.com.
  12. Chastain, Bill (May 30, 2011). "Rays option Cobb back to Durham". raysbaseball.com Notebook. Retrieved May 31, 2011.
  13. Chastain, Bill; Chiang, Anthony (May 30, 2011). "Rays call up Cobb for Tuesday start". raysbaseball.com Notebook. Retrieved May 31, 2011.
  14. Marc Topkin, St. Petersburg Times. "Vero Beach's Alex Cobb gets first major league win". TCP. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
  15. "Tampa Bay Rays put catcher Jose Lobaton on disabled list". Tampa Bay Times.
  16. "Rays' Alex Cobb says rehab is ahead of schedule". Archived from the original on December 11, 2014. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
  17. "Alex Cobb Stats". Baseball-Reference.com.
  18. "Cobb 'bit surprised' to be among first cuts". MLB.com. March 12, 2012. Retrieved May 8, 2015.
  19. "Alex Cobb tosses four-hit shutout, leads Rays past Athletics". ESPN.com. Associated Press. August 23, 2012. Retrieved May 8, 2015.
  20. "Alex Cobb fans 13 in 4 2/3 innings, Rays top Padres". usatoday.com. Associated Press. May 10, 2013. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
  21. "Alex Cobb makes strikeout history twice in unique outing". CBSSports.com. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
  22. Marc Topkin (June 15, 2013). "Rays' Cobb hit in head by line drive, taken off on stretcher". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved June 15, 2013.
  23. Marc Topkin (August 15, 2013). "Rays rout Mariners in Cobb's return". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved August 25, 2013.
  24. Press, The Associated Press The Associated. "MLB notebook: Hit by liner, Rays' Cobb favors protective headgear for pitchers". Arizona Daily Star.
  25. William Weinbaum (January 28, 2014). "Pitchers' protective caps approved". ESPN. Retrieved June 9, 2014.
  26. William Weinbaum (June 9, 2014). "Alex Cobb to endorse padded insert". ESPN. Retrieved June 9, 2014.
  27. "Cobb, other Rays players begin 2015 season on DL". espn.go.com. ESPN. Retrieved April 5, 2015.
  28. Chastain, Bill. "Cobb has partially torn UCL in right elbow". MLB.com. Retrieved May 5, 2015.
  29. "Rays pitcher Alex Cobb to have season-ending elbow surgery". ESPN.com. Associated Press. May 8, 2015. Retrieved May 8, 2015.
  30. "Alex Cobb Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved January 24, 2017.
  31. Jim_Turvey (April 11, 2017). "Alex Cobb is a different pitcher". DRaysBay. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
  32. "Rays willing to trade Cobb". MLB Daily Dish. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
  33. "Alex Cobb knows he's going to be traded". DRaysBay. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
  34. "Tampa Bay Rays: Alex Cobb trade rumors". isportsweb. June 19, 2017. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
  35. "Alex Cobb". ESPN.com. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
  36. "Alex Cobb Statcast, Visuals & Advanced Metrics | MLB.com". baseballsavant.com.
  37. "Alex Cobb agrees with Orioles on 4-year deal worth $60M". ESPN. March 20, 2018. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  38. "Orioles name Cobb to start Opening Day". March 13, 2019.
  39. "MLB notebook: Orioles' Cobb (groin) lands on IL". Sports.yahoo.com. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
  40. Brown, Mark (April 28, 2019). "Alex Cobb back to injured list as Orioles shuffle roster in flurry of moves". Camden Chat. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
  41. "Shawn Armstrong Stats, Fantasy & News". MLB.com.
  42. Meoli, Jon (February 2, 2021). "Orioles finalize Alex Cobb trade to Angels for infielder Jahmai Jones". Baltimore Sun.
  43. "Giants Finalizing Agreement With Alex Cobb". MLB Trade Rumors.
  44. "Source: Giants finalizing deal with free-agent pitcher Cobb". RSN.
  45. "Giants finalize deal with Alex Cobb". MLB.com.
  46. "Alex Cobb". baseballsavant.com.
  47. "Giants In Discussions With Alex Cobb". MLB Trade Rumors.
  48. Kawahara, Susan Slusser and Matt (November 22, 2021). "Giants making push for free-agent starting pitcher Alex Cobb". The San Francisco Chronicle.
  49. "Could looming pitch clock affect new Giants pitcher Cobb?". December 2021.
  50. "Alex Cobb Stats, Height, Weight, Position, Rookie Status & More". Baseball-Reference.com.
  51. "Player Card: Alex Cobb". www.brooksbaseball.net.
  52. "Alex Cobb getting married!". February 2014. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  53. "New dad Alex Cobb plans to savor his first Opening Day start for Orioles". March 13, 2019.
  54. "Difficult times have made Rays' Alex Cobb stronger". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
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