Cobb toying with idea of abandoning windup
Right-hander throws five innings vs. Blue Jays from stretch
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The trend of starting pitchers ditching the windup has run the gamut in recent years, from All-Stars like Stephen Strasburg and Yu Darvish, to veterans seeking reinvention themselves like Clay Buchholz, to up-and-coming youngsters like Marco Gonzales, Tyler Glasnow and Brad Peacock.
Add Alex Cobb to the list.
The Orioles' righty is thinking of joining that group full-time after Baltimore’s 4-3 win over the Blue Jays on Saturday at Dunedin Stadium, when he turned his penultimate tuneup for Opening Day into a testing ground. Cobb said he made a “game-time decision” while jogging to the mound in the bottom of the first to put into practice an experiment he has toyed with for years.
“It felt really good,” Cobb said. “It’s something I’ve always kind of thought about trying.”
Then for five innings, Cobb did exactly that. Cobb threw the entirety of his 69 pitches from the stretch, not allowing a baserunner until Freddy Galvis reached via a Stevie Wilkerson throwing error with one out in the fourth.
Cobb retired 14 of his first 15 hitters before being tagged for three runs in the fifth, and he finished with eight strikeouts and no walks. In all, Cobb said the results were encouraging enough to continue tinkering with the approach, which he first picked up from Indians righty Carlos Carrasco.
“The simplicity of it seems like a good idea,” Cobb said. “When you go home at night, when you’re practicing your bullpens, you’re always thinking about two different deliveries. I want to clean all those thoughts up and stop worrying about both.”
Carrasco, a converted reliever, was one of the early windup-scrappers. Chris Archer, Jake Arrieta and Alex Wood have all since ditched theirs completely as well. Others, like Noah Syndergaard, David Price, Corey Kluber and Marcus Stroman, have taken steps to simplify their motions with an eye toward eliminating extra movement and better repeating their deliveries. Cobb cited those benefits, also noting how the stretch provides chances to disrupt hitters' timing via deception measures like slide stepping.
“I think when you’re real young, you don’t have the strength. You need that extra momentum,” Cobb said. “Now, I’m the strongest I’ve been in my career. It’s a good time to try it and see how it feels. When the ball is jumping like it is, you have everything you need.”
Trumbo tests knee
Rehabbing slugger Mark Trumbo got his first real chance to test his surgically repaired right knee on the bases Saturday, when he scored from first on a double. He later legged out an infield hit, a rare feat for Trumbo, who wasn’t exactly a burner even before his operation.
“That wasn’t ideal, to be honest with you,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde half-joked. “It wasn’t what I was hoping for. But he felt good after scoring from first, wanted another at-bat.”
Trumbo reported no issues afterwards, but he remains iffy for Opening Day given the severity of his surgery. He has now appeared in three Grapefruit League contests, going 1-for-6 with a walk.
Hays stays hot
Outfield hopeful Austin Hays continued his stellar spring by socking a go-ahead solo home run in the eighth off Javy Guerra, the fifth of Grapefruit League play for the Orioles’ No. 4 prospect per MLB Pipeline. Hays has been a revelation this spring, posting a 1.277 OPS to put himself in the mix for the club’s fourth-outfielder job.
“He’s impressed a lot of people in camp,” Hyde said. “He’s exciting to watch, he has a lot of tools.”
The Orioles return to action behind rotation hopeful Mike Wright Jr. on Sunday, when they welcome the Yankees to Sarasota. Right-hander Jonathan Loaisiga will line up opposite Wright in a rematch of Tuesday’s 8-7 Yankees win in Tampa. First pitch is set for 1:05 p.m. ET from Ed Smith Stadium.