Does Cobb fit on your ‘Mount Rushmore’ of Rays starters? Maybe he should.

The Tampa Bay Rays have announced that Alex Cobb’s season has come to a close. Seeing as he’ll be a free agent at the end of the season it’s expected that his time with the Rays has come to a close.

In a career that has had many road bumps in the form of injuries Alex Cobb has been one of the best pitchers in franchise history. It seems like many freak injuries prevented him from completing any one season healthy. Cobb has missed time with Thoratic Outlet Syndrome, Tommy John Surgery following a torn ulnar collateral ligament, and a concussion after being hit by a line drive in the head. This year Cobb has been healthy with only a short visit to the disabled list with turf toe.

The 2006 fourth round pick out of Vero Beach High School (Vero Beach, FL) was a great find. In his six plus years of team control he threw 700.0 innings with a 3.50 ERA and 3.68 FIP. He has been worth 10.6 fWAR, 13.8 RA9 WAR, and 10.8 bWAR. He owns a 19.7% strikeout rate and 7.0% walk rate.

In 2017 Cobb put up some of the best results of his career. He threw a career high 179.1 innings with a 3.66 ERA and 4.16 FIP. He has a 17.3% strikeout rate and 5.9% walk rate. He put up a 2.4 fWAR, 3.7 RA9 WAR, and 2.3 bWAR in 2017.

Cobb surpassed expectations in both performance and quantity of innings.

For some Cobb will be remembered for what could have been. If he could have stayed healthy, he could have been truly great. However we were only able to see that greatness in short bursts.

Unlike most pitchers in this era he has gotten results without elite velocity. His fastball averaged 91-92 miles per hour, but it was his 86 miles per hour split-change that he built his career upon. Overall Cobb has a slightly below average strikeout rate and above average walk rate.

Notably, Cobb’s split-change led to a 54.0% groundball rate, and became a pitch unique to the Rays staff as he taught it to Jake Odorizzi.

Milwaukee Brewers v Tampa Bay Rays
Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

Where does Cobb stand among the best pitchers in Rays history?

Cobb is one of ten starting pitchers to throw 500 plus innings as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays franchise. Overall, Cobb ranks fifth in wins, innings, fWAR, RA9 WAR, and bWAR.

In silos, Cobb has been among the best of that select group. If he was able to stay healthy maybe he would be in the discussion with Shields and Price as the best starting pitcher in franchise history.

His 3.50 ERA is only bested by David Price’s 3.19. Cobb’s 3.68 FIP only trails Price and James Shields. The lack of innings is a real limiter when comparing WAR. His 1.53 fWAR per 100 innings ranks fifth. 1.97 RA9 WAR per 100 innings comes in third, and 1.54 bWAR per 100 innings ranks fourth.

And with the Rays calling his last start the final one of the season, Cobb’s time in a Rays uniform appears to be at its end.

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