Alex Cobb
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Not being a right fielder for the New York Yankees, I can say to Alex Cobb “You would look good in pinstripes” without fear recrimination from the Commissioner.

Free agent Alex Cobb is an American League East-lifer who has spent his entire big league career with the Tampa Bay Rays. It’s no secret the New York Yankees have been scouting him for their rotation. Could now be the time to pounce?

Now two years out from Tommy John surgery, the right-hander is poised for a big followup to his successful comeback in 2017. In his first full season post-Tommy John surgery, Cobb got off to a slow start in May and June but went on to have a quality campaign, going 12-10 for the Rays with a 3.66 ERA, 1.1 HR/9, 2.2 BB/9 and a 1.221 WHIP.

Once known for a devastating split-finger fastball, Cobb completely changed the usage of his pitches due to the Tommy John surgery. According to Brooks Baseball, in 2017, Cobb relied primarily on his sinker (92 mph) and curve (using a knuckle-curve grip, 81 mph), while mixing in a splitter (86 mph) and a four seam fastball (92 mph).

In 2017, Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild preached less reliance on the fastball to his pitchers and, in fact, according to Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated,

They [the Yankees] throw the fewest fastballs in baseball, and it’s not even close. They average a fastball rate of just 43.1%. Houston is next lowest at 47.3%.

A pitcher who doesn’t rely on his fastball at all, Cobb lived off the sinker 50.8 percent of the time and the curve 34.1 percent of the time in 2017 (throwing the split-fingered fastball 14.4 percent of the time and the four-seam fastball .74 percent of the time). Cobb would seem to be a good fit for a Yankee pitching staff that is not pitching primarily off the fastball.

While the Yankees starting rotation appears to be settled going into the last weeks of spring training, the lack of veteran depth is a concern, particularly with the ever present possibility of injury—what with Masahiro Tanaka’s elbow and CC Sabathia‘s knee.

With the recent acquisitions of Brandon Drury and Neil Walker and the reassignment of prospect Gleyber Torres to the minors, general manager Brian Cashman served notice that he is in serious pursuit of title no. 28.

It would come as no surprise if Cashman added Cobb, a solid, quality starter in the Yankee-mold and a stalwart veteran of AL East battles. In fact, Cobb already fits in so well that Cashman might be ridiculous to even consider otherwise.

Freelance writer, Yankees fan, and baseball fan writing to start, join and sustain the baseball conversation.