Can Alex Cobb Provide the Spark the Rays Need?

By David Hill

June 5, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Tampa Bay Rays manager

Joe Maddon

(70) takes the ball to relieve starting pitcher

Alex Cobb

(53) in the eighth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Tampa Bay won 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

After a hot July, the Rays have been in a slump lately. After a rough road trip that saw them fall to three games behind the Red Sox in the American League East, and just a two game lead over the Orioles for the second Wild Card. Not only have the Rays not pitched well, with only one starter lasting beyond five innings in the previous week, but the offense was shut down over the last two games in Los Angeles. It would seem as though the Rays are in need of a spark, similar to the ones they got when Alex Torres and Wil Myers were brought up.

The good news is that the spark they need may be right around the corner. Alex Cobb, who we last recall seeing taking a line drive off the head, is scheduled to make his return to the mound on Thursday against the Mariners. Cobb, just by his presence, should be able to help solidify a rotation that has struggled as of late.

Cobb may also be able to provide a lift to the Rays just by getting on the mound. When he was initially hit by Eric Hosmer‘s line drive, it was natural to fear the worst. Having it happen to a teammate just one month after J.A. Happ got hit by a line drive against the Rays certainly struck a chord, and it was not a given that Cobb would be able to come back this season. Add in the unpredictable nature of head injuries, and it was not necessarily a given that Cobb would be able to return at all.

Yet, if everything goes according to plan, there Cobb will be, on the mound at approximately 7:10pm on Thursday, ready to throw the first pitch of the game. With the possibility that Matt Moore may soon follow Cobb back to the Rays rotation, that spark could possibly turn into a fire to get the Rays out of their recent malaise.

Alex Cobb may be returning at just the right time. And that return, in more ways than one, may be just what the Rays need right now.