Cobb, Peralta Keep Fielder Off-Balance | The Process Report

Cobb, Peralta Keep Fielder Off-Balance

A small cut on his pitching hand kept Alex Cobb from taking his turn in the Rays’ rotation last week, but his performance on Wednesday night in Detroit was worth the wait. Facing the second-highest scoring team in the Majors entering play, Cobb tossed 7 2/3 innings of shutout ball, scattered three hits, issued one unintentional walk (three overall), and struck out seven batters in a no-decision.

Mixing speeds and locating allowed Cobb to have success against a formidable Tigers’ lineup. Though he threw a strike with nearly two-thirds of his 108 pitches, not all were located within the zone. He registered 23 strikes on pitches out of the zone including seven whiffs. While moving the fastball east to west, Cobb buried the split-changeup in the bottom half of the zone or lower. Cobb threw just 15 breaking balls on the evening, however, unconventional usage gave the pitch greater impact. He threw 11 first-pitch curveballs, matching the number of first-pitch heaters. He got ahead in the count with five of those hooks and induced a one-pitch out with another.

Granted Cobb did his best work when attacking hitters in search of outs, his most important pitches may have been the eight thrown intentionally out of the zone to reigning American League MVP Miguel Cabrera. Twice Cabrera came to bat against Cobb with a runner in scoring position and first base open. And twice Rays’ manager Joe Maddon decided not to pitch to him. The strategy has worked for Tampa Bay in the past and worked again in this game.

In the sixth inning, Cobb intentionally walked Cabrera with a runner on second base and two outs. The free pass brought up left-handed slugger Prince Fielder. Cobb worked ahead of the count 0-2 after inducing two out-of-the-zone fouls on a curveball and fastball. Perhaps sitting on the off-speed pitch with two strikes, the four-time All-Star swung through a 91-mph fastball low-and-away to end the frame.

Faced with an exact situation two innings later: a runner on second, two outs, and Cabrera at the plate, Cobb threw his final four pitches of the evening deliberately out of the zone. Unlike the previous sequence, Cobb would not be facing Fielder next. That honor went to right-handed reliever Joel Peralta despite lefty Jake McGee also being warm. Dubbed one of the best “left-handed relievers in baseball,” by Maddon, Peralta has been incredibly successful going against the platoon split because of a magnificent off-speed offering. True to form, the Dominican native threw four pitches to Fielder; all of them splitters.

Fielder took the first pitch for a strike before sitting on one too far below the zone. With the count even at 1-1, he appeared to be amped up for a fastball. Instead, he was out in front on an 83-mph splitter thrown over the heart of the plate. On the final pitch of the appearance, Peralta located his splitter low-and-away resulting in another mistimed swing from Fielder to end the threat. The Rays scored three runs in the top of the ninth off the equally impressive Doug Fister to split the series heading into Thursday.



2 Comments

  1. merrillfraz wrote:

    That was a truly enjoyable game. Pitching duel that ends with the Rays on top. Havent’ seen much of those this year.

  2. […] starter, picking up the baton from the similarly skilled James Shields. Like Shields, he uses his secondary pitches in primary counts and vice versa. Do not be surprised if the Rays target Cobb, as they did with Shields, as a […]

Leave a Reply

#layout { padding-left:20px; }