The Phillies’ rotation depth took a hit today, as Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that right-hander Ethan Martin has been shut down for three weeks due to triceps and shoulder capsule strains.
Martin left Thursday’s exhibition opener against the Blue Jays due to shoulder soreness. He faced just four batters and was reportedly hitting around 85 mph on his fastball.
The Phillies are already expected to be without Cole Hamels and Jonathan Pettibone at the start of the regular season, so that leaves Cliff Lee, A.J. Burnett, Kyle Kendrick, and Roberto Hernandez as the only sure things for the starting rotation. It would certainly help if Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez begins to show why the Phillies gave him a three-year, $12 million contract, but he’s a huge mystery at the moment.
Martin, 24, was acquired from the Dodgers in 2012 as part of the Shane Victorino trade. He posted a 6.08 ERA and 47/26 K/BB ratio in 40 innings last year between the rotation and the bullpen.
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.