It took a while - quite a while - but a team that last year ranked last in the majors in rotation ERA has remade its starting five for the 2018 season.
The Orioles posted a rotation ERA of 5.70 last season. But tonight they are on the verge of adding free agent right-hander Alex Cobb to the earlier signing of Andrew Cashner and the re-signing of Chris Tillman.
MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko reported that the Orioles are close to a four-year deal with Cobb. Yahoo Sports first reported the club was close to signing the right-hander. FanRag Sports now reports the deal is done for four years and could be worth $60 million.
In a span of about five weeks, the rotation overhaul just might put the Orioles in a position to be solid contenders for an American League playoff spot. They may even have enough pitching to at least be able to make a run to take on the big boys in Boston and New York.
Cobb was attractive to the Orioles for many reasons. Near the top of that list you would assume would be his experience pitching for Tampa Bay in the AL East for six seasons and his success in the division.
In nine combined start last year versus Boston, New York and Toronto, Cobb went 4-3 with a 2.96 ERA. In 36 career starts versus those three clubs, Cobb is 15-11 with a 3.21 ERA. He even has strong numbers in 12 career starts versus the Orioles, going 6-2 with a 2.70 ERA. But the numbers do fall off in his seven career starts at Camden Yards, where he is 3-1 with a 4.62 ERA and 1.541 WHIP.
Cobb underwent Tommy John surgery on May 14, 2015. He didn’t pitch at all that year and retuned to make five starts in September 2016. But last season, he went 12-10 with a 3.66 ERA in 29 starts. Over 179 1/3 innings, he allowed 175 hits and 22 homers with 44 walks, 128 strikeouts and a 1.221 WHIP for the Rays. He set career highs in wins, innings and starts.
For his career, Cobb is 48-35 with a 3.50 ERA. He has allowed 8.3 hits per nine innings with a homer rate of 0.8, a walk rate of 2.6 and strikeout rate of 7.3. His career groundball rate is 54.0.
Cobb was better last year at home than on the road, posting an ERA of 2.46 at Tropicana Field and 4.72 on the road. That difference is much reduced in his career numbers with an ERA of 3.10 at home and 3.91 on the road.
If and when his signing becomes official, we may begin to find out how quickly he can be ready to pitch during the season. But his addition would ensure that for at least the next two seasons the Orioles have a rotation that includes Cobb, Cashner, Bundy and Gausman.