Phillies free agency target: Starting pitcher Alex Cobb

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 4: Pitcher Alex Cobb /

It’s clear the Phillies need to bring in a starting pitcher this offseason, and Alec Cobb could fit the team’s needs well.

By the end of this season it has become clear that the Phillies biggest need is starting pitching. Between injuries and poor performance the rotation completely fell apart. Aside from Aaron Nola, it is a complete dumpster fire.

This offseason, Philadelphia is likely to target starting pitching in the free agent market. There are several options out there with varying degrees of talent and cost. One pitcher that fits for the Phillies is Tampa Bay Rays righty Alex Cobb.

The Rays drafted Cobb in 2006 in the fourth round and he made his debut in 2011. He really jumped onto the scene in 2013 when he finished the year with a 2.76 ERA, 1.151 WHIP, and 3.9 bWAR. He followed it up with a strong 2014 where he posted nearly identical numbers to the year prior.

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2015 was a lost season for Cobb as he had Tommy John surgery in April of that year, causing him to miss all of that year as well as most of 2016.

This is Cobb’s first full season back from surgery, and while he hasn’t returned to 2013-2014 season, he hasn’t been bad either. Through 29 starts, he has a 3.66 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and 2.91 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Cobb’s average fastball velocity is only slightly lower than 2014 and is about the same compared to 2013.

Meanwhile, it has maxed out nearly as high as 2014 and 2013.

Moving on to his secondary pitches, according to Brooks Baseball, Cobb’s curveball has less horizontal and vertical movement compared to 2013 and 2014. His splitter also doesn’t drop as much, although the difference in its horiztonal movement is negligible.

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If Cobb can return to his 2013-2014 form, Philadelphia will be getting a borderline ace in their rotation. Even if he pitches the way he has this year, it’s still an improvement on this year’s starting pitchers. He would be a serviceable middle-of-the-rotation arm if nothing else.

How aggressively Philadelphia pursues Cobb most likely depends on how much they believe he can come back. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports said that Cobb is a logical choice for them and that they will be “actively” searching for starting pitching.

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It’s hard to give any guy who is just two years removed from Tommy John surgery a large contract. However, if the two sides can reach a deal of medium length with an average annual value between 12 and 18 million dollars, it would make a lot of sense for the Phils.