The Orioles have finally made a move to bolster their rotation by inking Alex Cobb to a deal. But, what is the fantasy of the move?
The free agent market has been laughable this season, to say the least. Alex Cobb may not be a fantasy dynamo, but he should not have lasted until mid-March to sign. Yet, the pitching-starved Orioles have had eyes on him and eventually paid up. What is the fantasy fallout of the move?
All things considered, the Orioles are in a tough spot. Unfortunately, they are one of the worst run organizations in baseball. The Orioles have the offensive core to make noise, yet are missing any semblance of a dependable rotation to consistently contend.
They continually miss out on trading key pieces to restock their weak farm system and are on the verge of losing out on one of the best talents in the league, Manny Machado.
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With Cobb now in tow, he immediately becomes the teams most bankable option in fantasy and real life. We covered Cobb back in Nov. and much of that remains the same.
Cobb ended last season with a 3.66 ERA/128 K/1.22 WHIP over 29 starts and 179 innings. He was consistent as well, 3.75 ERA in the first half and 3.52 in the second, while never posting an ERA higher than a 4.66 ERA in any month.
While on the surface Cobb’s stats were plausible and fantasy friendly, there are some concerns in his peripheral stats. Cobb’s GB rate was still an excellent 48%, but he did see his LD rate jump to 22%, and his FB rate climbed to 30%.
Looking further, his Med contact did drop to 48%, but the Hard contact rate rose to a career-worst 37%. Combine the harder contact and FB increase, and it is easy to why he posted a career-high 22 HR.
Cobb’s command remains excellent, a great sign considering his TJ surgery, but his K/9 dropped by nearly two strikeouts per game to just six. A major cause behind this was him going away from his signature split-change, and focusing more on his fastball/curveball mix.
Cobb has spent his entire career pitching in the AL East and against some of the best lineups in the game. However, his career ERA at Camden Yards is 4.72. Good thing for fantasy owners, that is the highest out of the all of the East ballparks.
Cobb will remain crafty, especially if he starts to bring back the split, but the homer concerns are definitely a concern considering he will make half his starts at Camden.
He will miss brief time at the beginning of the year in the minors as he gets his arm ready. Yet, the brief time missed cannot do him any harm considering his TJ Surgery and all.
For fantasy owners, we opined in Nov. that he was a fantasy SP4/5, and possibly an SP3 if he landed in a fantasy-friendly spot. But, Camden Yards is not that locale. I still hold that Cobb is a tested arm and can be trusted, yet the ERA may be closer to 4.00 than owners want in terms of late round SP pick.