SARASOTA, FLA — With opening day under two weeks away, the Baltimore Orioles have finally put together a five-man rotation. On Tuesday evening, the team reached a deal with former Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Alex Cobb. The deal is reportedly a four-year contract. The exact dollar figure is unknown yet, but believed to be around $56 million, according to Roch Kubatko of MASN.
The 30-year-old starter played six seasons down in Florida for the Tampa Bay Rays, where he accumulated a career record of 48-35 with a 3.50 ERA, before entering the free agent market this offseason. Cobb’s road from 2011 to 2018 has certainly been a rollercoaster though. In 2013 and 2014 he held a 2.82 ERA and gave up just 24 home runs between both seasons.
On the other hand, Cobb has had some disappointing seasons in recent history. After missing all of 2015 with a UCL tear, Cobb only started five games in 2016 and finished with an ugly 8.59 ERA. His return to form in 2017 that resulted in a 12-10 record and a 3.66 ERA earned him some interest in the free agent market and the Orioles ended up giving him the multi-year deal he wasn’t getting offered by others.
The biggest question for a new Orioles pitcher is always how they will perform in Camden Yards. With Cobb playing in the American League East his entire career, he had the opportunity to take the mound in Baltimore more than others. In seven career starts at Camden Yards, Cobb is 3-1 with a 4.62 ERA.
One of the things that stands out about Cobb is his ability to limit the long ball. He has averaged just under 11 home runs per season in his career, which the Orioles hope will translate to his new home. With Camden Yards being a notoriously hitter-friendly park, Cobb’s talents will be tested. He has surrendered four homers in seven starts there.
Cobb will not get much spring training time to prepare before opening day rolls around but his presence rounds out an Orioles rotation that has been under question all offseason. There may not be much depth and none of the five starters stand out as a true ace, but I think fans should feel more comfortable with these five taking the mound instead of one of the many Triple-A arms in the system.
This move will also likely end the talks of making Miguel Castro a starter. The 23-year-old showed a lot of promise out of the pen last season but Buck Showalter gave him a lot of innings of work in a short amount of time. Castro clearly showed fatigue after pitching 66 innings in 2017 so stretching him out into a starter never sounded like a reasonable option.
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