Monday, June 10, 2013
Cobb tries to ground Red Sox hitters
By Will Cohen
AP Photo/Mike CarlsonAlex Cobb has quietly put together a great season and has been excellent since the start of August last season. He’ll face one of the best offenses in baseball when the Tampa Bay Rays host the Boston Red Sox on "Monday Night Baseball" (ESPN/WatchESPN, 7 ET).
Alex Cobb has been one of the best pitchers in the AL since Aug. 1 of last season.
Cobb is 13-3 with a 2.72 ERA since the start of August (the Rays are 17-5 in his 22 starts since then), and he’s struck out nearly four times as many hitters as he’s walked.
He’s been even better at home, with a 1.84 ERA at Tropicana Field in that span and a 0.82 WHIP. He’s third in the American League in ERA this season and has the third-lowest in the league since Aug. 1, 2012.
Cobb may not blow you away with velocity, but opponents are hitting .209 against his fastball, seventh-lowest among starters in the AL. His strikeout rate is up with the pitch relative to seasons past, and he's throwing it in the strike zone more often.
Cobb works his splitter off that fastball. Only three pitchers have more strikeouts with their changeup or splitter this season.
And he’s done an excellent job of keeping the ball on the ground. More than 58 percent of balls in play off him this season have been grounders, the highest rate in the AL.
The Red Sox have hit just .173 against Cobb since he joined the big leagues with more strikeouts (23) than total hits (18). Current members of the Sox are hitting .181 against him with 22 punchouts and just 13 hits.
But this Red Sox offense is one of the best in baseball, and that starts with former MVP Dustin Pedroia. He’s reached base in 62 games this season, more than anybody else in baseball.
He’s hitting .333 during his 13-game hitting streak and has a hit in 29 of his past 31 games, batting .369 in that span.
Pedroia has been great with two strikes this season, leading the majors in hits and on-base percentage, and his .321 batting average in two-strike counts trails only Brandon Phillips' (.333).
It hasn’t been all Pedroia for Boston. Daniel Nava has the highest on-base percentage of any regular outfielder in the AL, as you can see in the second chart.
And he’s improved in all facets of hitting each year in the majors, striking out less often, drawing more walks and hitting for more power.
• Jose Iglesias is 20-for-46 (.435) during his 13-game hit streak. He’s reached safely in 21 of 22 games this season.
• Mike Carp is 8-for-16 with three home runs in his past five games. He’s batting .318 in 85 at-bats this season with a 1.048 OPS.
• Stephen Drew has a .306 batting average and .393 OBP in his past 14 games.