After landing Giancarlo Stanton, the Yankees have little to do in terms of constructing their lineup. That looks pretty good. It’s difficult to imagine a scenario where the front office tweaks anything else in terms of offense. The rotation, on the other hand, could use bolstering. The team doesn’t have a bad starting staff, but upgrades are always welcome. If the Yankees want a splashy addition, they could turn to Alex Cobb.
Cobb, 30, is coming off an impressive season that saw him post a 3.66 ERA. He had solid peripherals, too, running up a 4.16 FIP with a 47.8% groundball rate. He also logged a career-high 179.1 innings. That’s not a bad walk year by any measurement. One could argue that he didn’t post eye-popping strikeout numbers, but that’s just not part of his game.
The veteran right-hander works with four pitches, although three are variations on a fastball. His bread and butter pitch is a sinker that averages just a hair under 92 mph. Cobb backs that up with an 80 mph curveball while his mid-80’s splitter serves as his out pitch. He doesn’t rely so much on velocity, but instead a combination of movement and deception.
It’s concerning, however, that Cobb stayed away from the splitter in 2017. He didn’t go to it as frequently, and that raises a few red flags. It could be an anomaly, something that will sort itself out next season, but there’s evidence to suggest otherwise. The 30-year-old is just a few years removed from Tommy John surgery. He may no longer have a feel for the pitch, or it could have lost its effectiveness entirely. That’s a troublesome thought for any team interested in signing Cobb.
Speaking of which, Cobb has a lengthy injury history. In addition to the Tommy John surgery, he also missed time with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and a few oblique strains. He eclipsed 150 innings only twice in his career. Durability clearly isn’t his calling card. The Yankees have the pitching depth to cover for him in case of injuries, but one would like a free agent signing to soak up some innings.
On the plus side, Cobb is battle tested in the AL East. The Yankees always like that. He also has pitched well at Yankee Stadium. He owns a 3.12 ERA in the ballpark. A groundball pitcher with success in the Bronx makes for an intriguing addition. The Yankees will have to determine if this outweighs his injury history and disappearing splitter.
Bringing in another starting pitcher stands out as the next priority for Brian Cashman and company. The team has already been connected to Cobb, so the right-hander is under consideration. It will ultimately come down to if the Yankees trust his durability and have the financial flexibility to add his contract. Those are no sure things. That said, if they are indeed trying to add another starter, Cobb makes a lot of sense. They could do a lot worse for the back of the rotation.