The Tampa Bay Rays have been anxiously waiting for the return of starting pitcher Alex Cobb since he was put on the disabled list on April 13. Cobb has been recovering from a strained oblique, and pitched in a minor league game for the Charlotte Stone Crabs on Saturday. He allowed no runs in five innings, striking out nine and surrendering three hits.
It likely that Cobb’s next start will be in the majors, but it is unclear when his first game back will be. Since he last pitched on Saturday, it is assumed that he will most likely start for the Rays on Thursday in place of Cesar Ramos. It is also unknown in what way Joe Maddon will make room for him on the roster. Cobb’s return will result in one of the Rays’ interim starting pitchers either being moved to the bullpen or designated for assignment.
Cobb’s return could not come at a better time for the Rays, as they have struggled in the first couple months of the season. Their pitching has been particularly concerning, given the fact that it was supposed to be their biggest strength. Even ace David Price has found himself pitching below his normal standards. Price allowed six runs in 6.2 innings last night, surrendering two homers to Los Angeles Angels’ slugger Albert Pujols. He is now 4-4 with a 4.28 ERA for the season.
After an off day today, the Rays start a six game home stand against the Oakland Athletics tomorrow night. After that series, they will take on the Boston Red Sox this weekend. It is crucial that the Rays take advantage of these home games to help dig themselves out of last place in the American League East. They are currently five games behind the first place New York Yankees.
Alex Cobb has a lot of pressure put on him given the struggles that his team has experienced so far this season. It is difficult enough to come back to pitching at a high level after being out of the game for over a month, but Cobb must also deal with the pressures of fighting to bring his team out of the cellar. Even if Cobb does come back pitching as well as ever, the remaining pitchers in the Rays’ starting rotation need to seriously step up their efforts if they want to see their team in the playoff hunt this season.
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