SARASOTA, Fla. - Orioles right-hander Alex Cobb was one of the best pitchers in the American League in the second half last year. In 11 starts after the All-Star break, he went 3-3 with a 2.56 ERA, .232 batting average against and 1.156 WHIP. His ERA was fifth in the AL among pitchers that made at least 10 starts after the break.
And while Cobb liked the strong results to wrap up a season where he went 5-15 with a 4.90 ERA, he explained yesterday that he had certain reasons for seeking a better understanding of how he came to get there.
“The second half was good,” Cobb said. “But I didn’t understand fully why the pitches were working the way they were, which led to a lot of inconsistency from pitch to pitch. But I was good enough to where I could go out and compete. Everyone is always striving to get better, but I think there’s another level of crispness that I can get to. I was happy with the second half but I wasn’t content with where I was mechanically and understanding my delivery.”
So the results were good, but ...
“At the same time I knew I wasn’t 100 percent right. It was frustrating. You know you are not all there. The goal this spring is figuring it out, so you make adjustments pitch to pitch, not inning to inning or game to game.”
Cobb said there is a feel he is looking for. Once he produces the exact delivery he wants, it will allow him to repeat that exact delivery.
“It’s a whole-body feel,” he said. “I never know how to answer that question because I feel like when they ask about feel, is that your actual fingertips on the ball? But the feel in my mind is your entire delivery over the rubber from your first step and be able to replay that in your mind after each pitch. And if something did go wrong with the pitch, be able to trace that back.”
The Orioles have used Edgertronic high-speed video cameras to record pitchers in Sarasota. Cobb will use the videos to try and gain that feel he is looking for. The cameras produce super slow-mo at 1,000 frames per second. The use of those cameras should be big for him, he said.
“They are. I don’t know how much they are going to help me with my mechanics but I think what they will be really fun with is when you do get really comfortable over the rubber and can manipulate the pitch,” Cobb said. “Because I think what we think we are doing with certain pitches isn’t actually what’s happening.
“It’s so fast of a movement. I’ve been blown away by some of the stuff I’ve seen (via the cameras) that I just didn’t understand that was what was happening as the finished product of my delivery with the ball. I’m looking forward to playing with that and seeing it we can’t perform better on certain aspects of certain pitches.”
O’s are 2-0: The Orioles have begun their spring training schedule 2-0. They followed up Saturday’s 7-2 win over Minnesota with Sunday’s 9-8 win over Toronto. Rio Ruiz hit a three-run homer in the first and Baltimore scored three in the fourth to lead for good. The score then was 6-5 and Carlos Pérez belted a two-run double.
Right-hander Branden Kline dazzled in the ninth when he struck out the side with his mid- to high-90s fastball. It was impressive and manager Brandon Hyde said, “Wow,” after the game in sizing up Kline’s dominant ninth.
Between Single-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie last year, Kline went 5-4 with a 1.64 ERA in 44 games. In 32 games for the Baysox, he went 4-4 with a 1.80 ERA and 15 saves in 16 chances. He was added to the Orioles’ 40-man roster on Oct. 31 and yesterday he was added to the list of those impressive in this spring camp.
Live stream broadcast today: I will be calling the play-by-play today when the Orioles face the Twins in Ft. Myers, with coverage beginning at 1 p.m. Just go to Orioles.com or the MLB At Bat app to hear the game. This will be the first such broadcast of the spring on Orioles.com and 16 games will be covered live on this outlet. Basically, any game that is not on O’s radio and/or MASN can be found at Orioles.com, including the next five games beginning today. So join me this afternoon for game coverage plus some live in-game guests at 1 p.m.