Saturday, May 11, 2013

An Extremely Unusual Start

On Friday night, Alex Cobb had one of the most unusual lines you'll ever see from a starting pitcher.

4 2/3 IP, 13 K, 2 BB, 5 H, 2 ER

So, Cobb got a total of 14 outs. Twelve were via the strikeout (one of the strikeouts reached first on a wild pitch). Two of the hits were home runs. That means that Cobb only had five balls in play. Of those five balls in play, two were infield singles and two were ground outs.

Looking at the underlying numbers, Cobb was just as dominant. Of Cobb's 117 pitches, 77 were strikes, for an about average total. However, aside from the two home runs, the Padres were clear completely lost at the plate. They swung at 57 pitches and swung and missed at 22 of them (38%). For comparison, 10% is a good swinging strike rate, and Yu Darvish has the highest swinging strike rate on the season (16.7%).

To top it all off, Cobb managed to strike out four batters in the third inning. Despite that, he allowed a run, as Will Venable reached on a wild pitch strike out, stole second, stole third, and then scored on a balk. Cobb then struck out Yonder Alonso to end the inning. It was only the 30th time than an AL pitcher has struck out four players in an inning and the 60th overall. Striking out four batters in an inning is one of the rarest occurrences in baseball, just behind a perfect game and the unassisted triple play.

All told, this might have been the most dominant start when a starter didn't even manage to qualify for a win.

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