Alex Cobb’s New Look | The Process Report

Alex Cobb’s New Look

Alex Cobb is off to a fantastic start in 2013 as he continues his maturation process as a pitcher.

Doug Thorburn of Baseball Prospectus made these observations last season about Cobb’s delivery:

Cobb has a slow delivery from the windup, with a weird hitch after max leg lift, but he has figured out how to repeat that odd pattern. His stretch timing is completely different, especially with a slide step and a runner on first. He will ditch the slide step with a runner on third, but will still pitch from the stretch, so in effect he has three different timing patterns, but he has only mastered one of them.

He is opposite from Hellickson in that, while I like Hellickson’s release distance better from the stretch due to better momentum, Cobb’s distance is muted by a short stride that mitigates his extra momentum. Cobb will be better from the windup until he harnesses a consistent timing pattern from the stretch, and I think the odds of him doing that would be much better if he scrapped the slide step. But, right now, the combination of disrupted timing and a short stride make him a much less effective pitcher from the stretch.

Cobb’s numbers from the stretch and the windup backed up Thorburn’s observations as opposing hitters struck out fewer times, walked more frequently, and had a higher wOBA against Cobb when he pitched from the stretch. Additionally, Cobb’s strike percentage as well as his whiff percentage declined when he worked out of the stretch.

SITUATION PITCHES K% BB% wOBA STR% WHIFF%
Bases Empty 1710 19.7% 6.7% 0.294 65.1% 20.7%
Runner(s)on 1128 16.1% 7.7% 0.312 63.5% 17.8%

In light of Cobb’s strong start to this season, I asked Thorburn if he had noticed any changes in Cobb’s deliveries this season and he replied:

 I definitely see a difference. He is not using a blatant slide step with runners on first anymore, and he is using a pace that is more similar to his windup – he is extending the timing of leg lift and reaping a longer stride. He is also striding straight at the plate – last season he used a closed stride direction from the stretch – and it looks like part of the alteration in leg lift and stride timing is that he is allowing his hips to open during his stride and find a better landing spot.

In terms of outcomes Cobb is doing mostly better with runner(s) on base than he is pitching with nobody on base as he is striking out more hitters and getting more swings and misses.

SITUATION PITCHES K% BB% wOBA STR% WHIFF%
Bases Empty 272 18.1% 6.9% 0.249 64.7% 14.4%
Runner(s)on 144 20.9% 4.7% 0.268 62.5% 19.7%

Cobb has thrown 272 pitches with nobody on base and has gone to his fastball 54 percent of the time and his split-changeup 21 percent of the time. When anyone has been on base Cobb has adjusted his pitch mixture using his fastball just 48 percent of the time while upping his split-changeup usage to 27 percent. That helps explain the increased whiff percentage in the latter split given that 16 of the whiffs Cobb has this season have come off that split-changeup.

When it comes to Cobb’s quick start it’s been all about slowing down.



2 Comments

  1. […] faced. As Jason Collette of The Process Report and Doug Thorburn of Baseball Prospectus noted in this informative piece, Cobb has pitched better from the stretch so far this season than he has in the past. Some of that […]

  2. […] faced. As Jason Collette of The Process Report and Doug Thorburn of Baseball Prospectus noted in this informative piece, Cobb has pitched better from the stretch so far this season than he has in the past. Some of that […]

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