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Tampa Bay Rays: Alex Cobb’s Long Ball Struggles Continue

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Apr 16, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Alex Cobb (53) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 16, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Alex Cobb (53) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
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One of the premier pitchers before undergoing Tommy John surgery, Tampa Bay Rays starter Alex Cobb may still be recovering from the effects of the surgery.

The Tampa Bay Rays took a huge loss when Alex Cobb missed almost two seasons due to an elbow injury. Before the injury, Cobb was one of the leagues’ premier pitchers, and an integral part of the Rays starting rotation.

However, since his return, he has been more of a mixed bag. In nine starts after his elbow injury, Cobb has surrendered an earned run average of 6.65, opposed to a 3.21 ERA before the injury.

The long ball has haunted Cobb, allowing homers in six straight starts, and ten in his last nine appearances.

The home run ball was never a  struggle for Cobb pre-injury, though. He only allowed 0.69 home runs per nine innings from 2011-2014, and he even went twelve straight starts without allowing a home run just before his injury.

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Usually, when a pitcher is suddenly allowing a ton of fly balls for homers you expect the numbers to regress. But Cobb could be an exception to this. No player with at least sixteen innings pitched this season has allowed more hard contact than Cobb. He is currently allowing a hard hit rate of 50.6%, much higher than his career average.

The pre-injury Alex Cobb only allowed hard contact of 29.4% of the time, ranking among the league’s best. Now, as one of the league’s worst in the hard hit category, Cobb must make quick adjustments to return to form.

Now, we could accredit this to a couple tough match ups to start the season. The New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Houston Astros have been offensive juggernauts recently, and they offer a tough match-up for any pitcher, regardless of experience or talent. However, we know what Cobb is capable of, and we expect more of him.

Next: Examining Steven Souza's Hot Start

At the end of the day, elbow injuries are no joke for a starting pitcher, and he may still be recovering from the effects of it. I expect the old Cobb to come back sooner or later, but I prefer sooner rather than later.

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