Alex Cobb has been the Rays’ most consistent pitcher so far this season, going 6-2 with a 2.66 ERA in 10 starts and 67.2 innings pitched, completing 6 innings in all but two of his starts and 7 innings in four of ten. It was inevitable, though, that something was going to go wrong–but it could have been a lot worse than this. Cobb will miss his next start after cutting the middle finger on his right, pitching hand. Cobb explained how the nail injury affected his ability to pitch.
“I waited an extra day for my bullpen. I threw my bullpen [Wednesday] instead of [Tuesday]. And then, I couldn’t throw any offspeed pitches. Curveball and changeup both kind of hurt. Fastball felt fine, but I didn’t feel comfortable going into the game without knowing if I’d be able to throw my offspeed pitches. They decided it would be better to give it an extra day and try to let it heal.”
A nail injury doesn’t seem so serious, but it’s one of those injuries that can affect pitchers immensely and the Rays would much rather play it safe with their talented young right-hander. Cobb is expected to start either Sunday or Thursday, with Alex Colome going today and Matt Moore taking the hill tomorrow.
For Colome, there has been quite a swing of emotions over the past few days. First was the surprise that he was getting called up to the major leagues, and now he gets the opportunity to start in the place of Cobb.
“It’s really fun, because last night before the game, I didn’t think to come here to be here today,” Colome said. “But last night when [Durham manager] Charlie [Montoyo] called me and told me I go to the big leagues, I say, ‘Wow, you joke or what?’ He say, ‘No, no, I don’t joke. You go to big leagues.’ I say all right, and I feel good, because I’ve been waiting to be here a long time.”
“He told me, if I want, I start tomorrow,” Colome said. “I said, ‘Yes, why not?’ He say, ‘You got it, I don’t want you to change anything. You do the same things you do in Durham and throw your game.’
“It’s the dream I’ve waited for for a long time. I feel great, because it’s my first time in the big leagues. Now I’m starting. Something good.”
For so many years, we’ve seen the Rays operate with only five or six starters per season. Now, they’re already up to seven with Colome being the latest to get the opportunity and Chris Archer or Alex Torres becoming number eight on Saturday. For Colome, the series of events was especially wild as he was expected to be called up to use in relief, and there was a chance that it was only going to be for one day with another reliever such as lefty Jeff Beliveau taking his place today (as Colome meant when he said ”I didn’t think…to be here today”). Instead, Cobb injury gives Colome the chance to start and make his major league debut as the Rays look to finish off their sweep of the Marlins. And rest assured, Colome isn’t just a spot starter but a pitcher could be a major part of the Rays’ future. Colome has gone 4-5 with a 2.60 ERA, a 9.9 K/9, a 3.6 BB/9 and a 0.7 HR/9 in 10 starts and 55.1 IP at Triple-A Durham. And Joel Peralta actually deserves a thank you for Colome’s success this season that prompted the Rays to call him up.
“Neil Allen [Durham pitching coach] help me,” Colome said. “My cutter is really good this year. My changeup, I don’t throw a lot of changeup before. Now, [Joel] Peralta help me in Spring Training, he pushed me to throw my changeup. Now my changeup is really good. I can throw for strike, strikeout, whatever. … I feel better. I feel more comfortable.”
Colome features an arsenal that could be overpowering as a starting pitcher, throwing a mid-90′s fastball, an outstanding cutter that touches the low-90′s at times, a solid curveball, and the latest pitch to make an impact on his repertoire, his changeup. Colome may end in the bullpen long-term because of struggles with control and command, but with four quality pitches that can all leave hitters bewildered, he has considerable upside if he can remain a starter and he could start delivering on that potential immediately. Colome may only get one big league start for now with Cobb coming back. But against the Marlins, the Rays can hope to see flashes of just how good he can be as he leads them to victory against the Marlins.