Interesting story over at the Wall Street Journal: it seems Stephen Strasburg’s pitches have so much movement on them that they’re frequently deking umpires into calling pitches balls that really are strikes. There are lots of neat quotes from the umps and examples of previous pitchers who had this problem such as a young Dwight Gooden and Jeremy Bonderman.
And while I’m sure some of you will take issue with umpires calling pitches based on where they expect them to go based on where they actually go, the problem makes sense. People are conditioned to comprehend things based on what came before. If you’re seeing something unprecedented, your mind is going to try and fit into some old box before it can make sense of the new thing. A big curve that starts way the hell out of the zone? No way that comes back, your brain thinks. It’s understandable.
But it’s also a little terrifying. I mean, if the umps in the article are right and that they’ll eventually adjust and stop missing calls with Strasburg, it suggests that he will be even more dominant going forward, doesn’t it?
MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the Orioles have interest in free agent right-hander Alex Cobb, who rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Rays earlier this week. Cobb was most recently linked to the Cubs, who reportedly reached out to his agent during the GM Meetings and garnered mutual interest from the righty, but nothing appears to be set in stone yet.
Cobb, 30, completed his sixth season with the Rays in 2017. He went 12-10 in 29 starts and turned in a respectable 3.66 ERA, 6.4 SO/9 and career-best 2.2 BB/9 in 179 1/3 innings. Despite losing a couple of weeks to turf toe, he remained healthy for most of the year and showed no signs of the elbow issues that robbed him of the majority of his 2015-2016 campaigns.
It’s still fairly early for any deals to come to fruition, but Morosi notes that the Orioles seem to be focused on bulking up their rotation during the first few months of the offseason. It’ll take more than a healthy Alex Cobb to right that ship, however: Orioles’ starters earned a collective 5.70 ERA and 5.5 fWAR in 2017, good for worst and fourth-worst marks in the league, respectively. Behind Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy (and perhaps Gabriel Ynoa/Miguel Castro), they still need three viable starters to compete in 2018. Whether or not they can afford to spring for a single starter with Cobb’s price tag (four years, $48 million, per MLB Trade Rumors) remains to be seen.