It is absolutely terrible what has happened to Alex Cobb. Just when he’s pitching the best baseball of his life, he gets hit by a line drive and will be out for a long time, maybe the rest of the season, thanks to fluid buildup in his ear. There’s a chance he may never be the same. No one could possibly be happy about the whirlwind of events that have put Cobb’s career in limbo–but one player has benefitted from it quite significantly. There is no chance that Alex Colome is happy about the circumstances of his promotion to the major leagues, but it has given him the opportunity of a lifetime.
Colome’s first start was thanks to one of the most bizarre situations anyone had seen. Alex Cobb had an issue with his middle fingernail on his pitching hand and could not throw his secondary pitches, so the Rays needed a spot starter. Colome got the call against the Miami Marlins and proceeded to throughly impress, throwing 5.2 innings allowing just an unearned run on 5 hits, striking out 7 while walking 2. Now another freak injury, although one of a much more frightening nature, gives Colome a chance to return to a big league mound and possibly even earn a more permanent spot in the Rays rotation if he pitches well. Asked if Colome could wind up filling Cobb’s rotation spot, Joe Maddon said “There’s a possibility, yes.” Now Alex Colome has to make that possibility into a reality.
The Rays pulled some major strings to get Alex Colome this start. His last two starts were brief 2.2-inning outings on three days rest to make sure he would be on four days rest, no more and no less, for Saturday’s game against the Yankees. They want to see what he can do, and more than that, they need him. His stuff is tantalizing–a fastball that averaged 96 MPH in his first start, a dynamic changeup, and a sharp slider/cutter–and while he could use a little more time to refine the command and control of his fastball, there is no more time. There is nobody else. David Price is still out and Alex Cobb has joined him. Jake Odorizzi threw in Tuesday’s doubleheader as did Chris Archer. Mike Montgomery threw on Wednesday, and even if he didn’t, he has a long way to go to be a major league option for the Rays. And you can’t just convert Alex Torres to the rotation in a snap of your fingers. The Rays are relying on Alex Colome like they never have before. No matter how he pitches, his stuff is so good that he will get more chances–but the Rays will never appreciate his efforts as much as they would if he pitches well today. Price and Cobb will return from their injuries, and in an organization with so much pitching depth, you never know how long of a leash the Rays will have with Colome before sending his electric arm to the bullpen, where he has a stuff to close. Colome will never get a better opportunity to start for the Tampa Bay Rays than this.
Entering this season, no one thought that Alex Colome would possibly be here now. You had the five starters plus Jeff Niemann, Archer, and Odorizzi, and why in the world would the Rays need more starters than that? Or so we thought. Everyone was wrong and the Rays’ rotation is in shambles. And now, a starting spot on the team known for having one of the best rotations in baseball the past several years is right there for the taking for Alex Colome. If he pitches well, he may never spend another day in the minor leagues, and if he lets it slip away, he has no one to blame but himself.