Alex Cobb Returns | The Process Report

Alex Cobb Returns

Two months after being struck in the head by a line drive off the bat of Eric Hosmer, Alex Cobb returned to the mound at Tropicana Field. Though 50 games had been played since his injury, Cobb pitched as if he did not miss a day on the job.

On a limited pitch count due to his on-going rehabilitation, Cobb went five innings, allowing one run on three hits. He struck out six and walked two. He threw 88 pitches with 53 of them strikes. As the pitches increased, Cobb admittedly lost a bit of steam and control. He walked two of the final three batters and went full to his final batter, Nick Franklin, before striking him out on a changeup.

Though Cobb went to his signature pitch in the game’s biggest moment – bases loaded with two outs and a full count in a 1-1 tie – the changeup lacked its traditional look. He left several off-speed pitches up in the zone and yanked a few too far below it to entice the Mariners to chase. Still, when he needed it, the pitch was there against Franklin.

Without feel for the changeup, Cobb relied more on his curveball. For just the third time this season, a quarter of his total pitches were made up of breaking balls. An advocate of pitching 2.0 or pitching backwards, he threw nearly as many first pitch curves (eight) as he did fastballs (nine). Although he only threw the pitch six times with two strikes, he completed three of his six punch outs with the hook.

From David Price pre-game to Wil Myers post-game, the term swing-and-miss became synonymous with Cobb’s pitching. Prior to injury, one of every five swings against Cobb came up empty with the rate on his changeup being highest (28 percent). Despite the spotty off-speed command, he induced 11 whiffs on 40 swings Thursday night with five coming off the curveball.

As Cobb’ muscle memory and stamina returns so should his command and number of innings pitched per outing. The win was important; however, Alex Cobb returning the mound healthy was the biggest victory of the night.

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