Cobb’s Command Is Houston’s Problem | The Process Report

Cobb’s Command Is Houston’s Problem

The keys to Alex Cobb’s success are rather simple: command the fastball to get ahead in the count and entice the opposition to chase out of the zone with a tantalizing off-speed pitch that comes out of the hand like a fastball but pulls the emergency brake just before reaching the plate. The split-change that has yet to be categorized is a top-shelf weapon. We know this. Cobb knows this. By now the entire league does. And yet despite everyone in Minute Maid Park being in on his gameplan, Cobb was dominant almost exclusively in part to the “thing” as it is commonly referred.

In his fifth start back from the disabled list, Cobb tossed 6 1/3 innings, allowing just one on three hits and two walks. He struck out 11 batters – two shy of his career best – on just 97 pitches. Of those 11 strikeouts, 10 were generated using the off-speed offering including nine swings and misses. Overall, he threw the pitch 37 times. The Astros swung on 23 occasions and came up empty 16 times. The 69 percent miss rate marks the highest output of his career. In addition to the 10 punchouts, he induced five groundball outs with the same pitch. The 15 total outs also marks a best for the “fatigued fastball” – a term used by Vin Scully to describe a changeup.

Though the splitter was the star its performance was enhanced by the supporting role of a well-commanded fastball. Despite equal distribution among left and right-handed batters, Cobb peppered the glove-side of the plate with fastballs.


With the heater working on the first-base side of the dish, he clustered the off-speed to the opposite. Arm-side and down is where Cobb generated most of his outs with the split.


The ying-yang effect of both pitches, in conjunction with masterful command, allowed Cobb to drive on cruise control even though everyone knew exactly where he was going.

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