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Alex Cobb vs. the Red Sox in 2013

A difficult matchup.It's been a difficult matchup for him.

It has not been an easy season for Cobb against Boston.
It has not been an easy season for Cobb against Boston.
Jared Wickerham

I've been feeling pretty good about tonight's elimination matchup between Alex Cobb and the Boston Red Sox. Cobb has been lights out this season, and would be receiving some degree of national attention if his innings hadn't been limited by a line drive to the head. I was feeling good, that is, until I looked up how Cobb's fared in his four appearances against Boston this year. While he's pitched pretty well in two of those outings, okay in one, and only poorly in one, the Rays lost all four of the games he started. Of course it's better to have Cobb pitching today than to not, but against a team like the Red Sox, it's clearly no guarantee of success. Here's how each game played out.

April 14, 2013

Source: FanGraphs

The first time Alex Cobb faced the Red Sox this season was also against Clay Buchholz, and Buchholz stole the show, carrying a no-hitter to the eighth inning. As Erik wrote, Cobb had one rough inning in the third, but managed to pull himself together and pitch into the seventh without giving up any additional runs. His final line on the night was 106 pitches over 6.2 innings, and four runs allowed (three earned) on seven hits, two walks, and six strikeouts.

Cobb threw 49% fastball, 27% curve, and 24% changeup (according to Brooks Baseball). He produced a few whiffs with each type of pitch.

May 16, 2013

Source: FanGraphs

The next time Cobb faced the Sox was in May, and we don't appear to have recapped that game. I think I was going camping the next day, so it may have been my fault. Or maybe the assigned recapper was simply too sad. Cobb had the Rays in line for the win, but Fernando Rodney blew a two-run lead in the ninth.

Alex Cobb's final line was 92 pitches over 6.1 innings, and one earned run off three hits, two walks, and six strikeouts. He threw 37% fastball, 24% curve, and 39% changeup (from Brooks), finding most success on the changeup (eight whiffs).

June 10, 2013

Source: FanGraphs

Alex Cobb's third meeting with the Red Sox was a mammoth 14 inning affair, that included a benches clearing conversation after John Lackey drilled Matt Joyce (although he denied it being intentional) and then jawed at him in typical entitled Red Sox fasion. Cesar Ramos took the loss in his third inning of work, but it was Cobb's shakiness which gave up the game. Cobb threw 98 pitches over only four innings of work. He gave up six earned runs on seven hits, three walks, and four strikeouts. He threw his fastball 41% of the time, his curve only 15% of the time, and his changeup a full 45% of the time (Brooks). While Cobb did produce eight swings-and-misses from his off-speed barrage, this was likely a case of going to the well a bit too often.

September 11, 2013

Source: FanGraphs

Just under a month ago Cobb faced the Red Sox for the fourth time, and the matchup produced another loss in an extra-inning game. It all ended on a Mike Carp grand slam off Roberto Hernandez after Maddon pulled Joel Peralta midway through the inning, since he thought Peralta looked off.

It wasn't Cobb's best work, giving up three runs in the third inning, but he gave the Rays a chance to win. It took Cobb 98 pitches to complete 5.2 innings of work. He gave up his three earned runs on seven hits, three walks, and four strikeouts. He threw his fastball 42% of the time, his curve 26% of the time, and his changeup 31% of the time (Brooks). Five of his seven whiffs came on the changeup.

So what do we know? The changeup will be Cobb's best pitch, but he should probably try to stay balanced. The Sox will make him work, and he's unlikely to pitch a complete game. Also, the Rays are due.

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