Please Don’t Get Sexy: Jarred Cosart

A half decade has passed and an entire farm system’s worth of Phillies prospects have been shuttled to one team or another in exchange for a litany of significant big league pieces. Of those sent packing, almost none have gone on to do anything significant. Hell, Carlos Carrasco was DFA’d last week. But now Jarred Cosart, one of the few ex-Phils prospects likely to make an impact of some kind at the big league level, has been summoned from the minor leagues. And he’s already made some pretty serious noise.

So let’s talk about what we saw from Jarred Cosart on Friday night, a night in which he tossed eight shutout innings against one of baseball’s better offenses. Keep in mind that watching baseball on TV clouds your vision from lots of important things. It’s more difficult to see downhill plane, pitch grips upon release, point of release, use of lower half, front foot placement and anything that goes on when the eye in the sky isn’t watching. That’s a lot of things. But between what I saw last night and what I’ve seen from Cosart in person in the past, I don’t feel like I’m doing you a disservice by chiming in here, but be aware of our limitations.

Okay, let’s begin.  Jarred Cosart throws the baseball really hard. He sat 93-95mph most of the night and touched 97 a few times. His four-seamer features natural cut and will sink a bit, too. He commanded the shit out of it tonight, especially to his glove side, got some ground balls with it, some swings and misses, and generally kept it down in the strikezone. It was a very effective pitch and he leaned upon it heavily. He worked in a two-seamer that had a nice combination of sink and some arm-side run which he worked away to left handed hitters. It’s a plus-plus pitch (70) without much argument and provides Cosart a stable foundation on which to build a big league career. He maintained his velocity throughout the game, something he did not do the last time I saw him (2012 Fall League) when he was likely building arm strength which he seems to have constructed.

Cosart’s curveball has always been his most consistent, useful secondary pitch. The vertically oriented offering hums in between 79-82mph with good depth. Cosart knows how to use it. He pitched backwards with it the second time through Tampa’s order, buried it in the dirt, worked it back door at times, though we didn’t see any back foot charlies to left handed hitters. While Cosart showed advanced usage of the breaking ball, it didn’t yield results. He threw maybe 20 of them and none of them, none whatsoever, were swung at and missed. This is strange to me. The pitch appears to have the requisite movement to miss bats and the unusually high curveball velocity certainly helps, yet no Tampa hitter’s bat found only air when swinging. Again, I can’t be sure because I wasn’t sitting a few rows behind home plate like I usually am, but it’s possible that Cosart’s curveball is easy to identify out of his hand for one reason or another. Trevor May, who also has some tremendous movement on his curveball, suffers from the same stigma. It’s not a death blow, this is just one start and the curveball does look good, but it’s something to watch.

The changeup (of which Cosart threw maybe five or six) is about an average offering. It has nice horizontal movement but Cosart didn’t have great feel for it and the pitch often ran too far to his arm side for hitters to even consider offering at it. There’s a chance this pitch improves with time, but I’m not overly optimistic about it.

Cosart’s delivery has always been a topic of debate. It is a bit violent and he’ll lose sight of home plate at times because of it (though he looked to keep a still head most of the time on Friday) and some scouts aren’t a fan of where his front foot lands (he doesn’t create a right angle with it from the mound, it plants short, this is often called, “cutting yourself off”) but I’m not going to sit here and tell you the delivery is going to cause him to break.

Overall, I think Cosart is a #3 or #4 starter. Based on the way his two fastballs work, it’s really a four pitch mix right now and the secondary stuff seems solid, albeit unexceptional, overall. This is a young man with a tremendous right arm who had a terrific debut. I was surprised at how well Cosart mixed things up (though Carlos Corporan deserves a ton of praise for that as well), and that sort of pitchability bodes well for his future, especially if that change never comes along any more than it has thus far. I feel pretty good about his chances of staying in a rotation right now (unless he breaks, but we can’t exactly predict that. Well, I can’t anyway) but don’t think he’s going to be some dominant force of nature like most of baseball-watching Philadelphia probably thinks he’s going to be after tonight’s start. The Hunter Pence trade will end up hurting (Jonathan Singleton and Domingo Santana are on the way while Josh Zeid is probably a future middle reliever) and it would certainly be nice to have an arm like Cosart in red pinstripes, but I don’t think this one is going to cut depressingly deep.

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67 comments

  1. hk

    July 17, 2013 01:10 PM

    Larry,

    As to the reasons that I prefer Young to Galvis if they are my only choices for starting 3B, Galvis is not a good base runner, although he is better than Young and Freddy has played < 100 MLB innings at 3B, so I am not sure how good of a defender he is at that position. Therefore, Young's offense (as diminished as it is) remains so far superior to Galvis's that I prefer Young. Of course, this question is akin to asking me whether I prefer chicken liver or beef liver.

    3.

  2. Eric Longenhagen

    July 17, 2013 01:10 PM

    Larry,

    I think scouts should vote on Gold Gloves, not writers or managers or players. Stats on defense are an interesting thing to look at but I don’t they’re are

    As far as Howard’s MVP goes, I was fine with him winning it. Just like I was fine with Cabrera last year. I would have voted for Trout, but Cabrera was a fine choice.

    Just look at all stats and take everything into considertation and form your own opinion. Your opinion is fine. There are no overarching philosophical truths I demand anyone adhere to when you’re judging baseball.

  3. Larry

    July 17, 2013 01:23 PM

    I was trying to give you an apples to apples comparison which is easier to me at least with the same position. So I will rephrase it for you:

    “I prefer a great fielding, great base running 2B who produced a .388 wOBA over a poor fielding, bad base running 1B who produced a .436 wOBA. ”

    Would you prefer to have Galvis on 2nd than Howard on 1b in 2006?

    Since SS and 2nd are the most similar positions to compare in the infield, I will ask between a ss and 1st baseman. Would you rather have Howard at 1st base or Jroll at ss in 2006?

  4. hk

    July 17, 2013 01:49 PM

    If Galvis could have produced a .388 wOBA in 2006 and run the bases as well as Utley, I would have preferred him to Howard. Galvis doing so is unlikely however since he was 16 in 2006 and since his career wOBA is .271 in the big leagues.

    2006 Howard > 2006 Rollins, who was not as good a hitter or base runner as Utley was that year.

  5. hk

    July 17, 2013 01:53 PM

    “As far as Howard’s MVP goes, I was fine with him winning it.”

    Eric,

    I can at least somewhat understand the case for Howard deserving it more than Utley, but are you really fine with him winning it over Pujols? Pujols had a higher BA, OBP, SLG and was a better fielder and base runner.

  6. Phillie697

    July 17, 2013 01:58 PM

    “Would you rather have Howard at 1st base or Jroll at ss in 2006?”

    As opposed to what? They play different positions. I think a more apt question to what hk is saying is more like “would you prefer Jimmy Rollins at SS and Lance Berkman at 1B in 2006 over, say, Michael Young at SS and Ryan Howard at 1B in 2006?” And by the way, if you choose MY and Howard over JRoll and Berkman, you’d be nuts.

    There are no absolutes. .388 wOBA to .436 wOBA is not the same as .275 wOBA to .330 wOBA. I can literally throw a dart randomly at a board of imminently available players in the majors/minors and likely to find a player who can bat better than .275 wOBA, whereas I’m going to be hard pressed to find anybody who can hit .388 wOBA OR .436 wOBA, let alone a 2B hitting .388 wOBA while playing awesome defense. Like hk said, if you can’t understand the concept of value to replacement at different positions, let’s just stop the discussion right now because it’s pointless to proceed.

  7. Eric Longenhagen

    July 17, 2013 02:08 PM

    I would have voted for Pujols but awards are just, in general, something I don’t get worked up about. At all.

  8. Larry

    July 17, 2013 02:26 PM

    @ HK,

    “2006 Howard > 2006 Rollins, who was not as good a hitter or base runner as Utley was that year.”

    I thought our criteria was just defense and base running?

    “I prefer a great fielding, great base running 2B who produced a .388 wOBA over a poor fielding, bad base running 1B who produced a .436 wOBA. ”

    I disagree about who was the better base runner in 2006 unless you are using some other statistic or analogy, but if you are, please tell me. Rollins was a faster runner and was never accused of making a lot of base running mistakes back then.

    Chase had 15 sbs and 4 CS. That’s about a 78% or 79% rounded up success rate. Even if you ignore the fact that JRoll stole way more bases, he also have a way better success rate.

    JRoll in 2006 had 36 sbs and 4 CS which is a 90% success rate.

    Now defensively, apparently they are both in the same league, if that statement is true than we can cancel out that part and just look at the base running. With just the criteria we started out with, do you believe this statement to be true?

    “2006 Howard > 2006 Rollins”

  9. Phillie697

    July 17, 2013 02:34 PM

    hk said, “a great fielding, great base running 2B who produced a .388 wOBA.” Exactly what part of .388 wOBA doesn’t suggest that he takes hitting into account?

  10. Phillie697

    July 17, 2013 02:39 PM

    Pretty sure by trying to corner hk into saying 2006 Howard > 2006 Rollins, and then comparing Rollins and Utley on defense and base-running, you’re trying to “pigeon hole” the argument into a fallacy that “2006 Howard, ergo, is greater than 2006 Utley, since 2006 Howard is greater than 2006 Rollins.” Except 2006 Utley hit .388 wOBA. 2006 Rollins hit .346 wOBA. That’s the part you have yet to mention.

  11. Larry

    July 17, 2013 02:46 PM

    @Eric

    “I would have voted for Pujols but awards are just, in general, something I don’t get worked up about. At all.”

    Would you have voted Utley over Howard that year?

  12. Larry

    July 17, 2013 02:51 PM

    HK,
    Assume Rollins wOBA was 388 as well.

    I wonder if I can have a conversation on this site without the same person trying to get involved every single time? The same person just won’t stop over and over.

  13. Phillie697

    July 17, 2013 03:05 PM

    “Assume Rollins wOBA was 388 as well.”

    LOL, if that’s the assumption, 2006 Jimmy Rollins > 2006 Ryan Howard, let alone 2006 Utley.

  14. hk

    July 17, 2013 03:53 PM

    Larry,

    Phillie697 pretty much answered all of your questions for me.

  15. joecatz

    July 18, 2013 10:14 AM

    2 points here.

    1. in regards to lineup optimization, from the perspective of a former player here, the one thing that I will always believe the “lineup doesn’t matter” crowd gets wrong is that each individual player reacts differently to their approach at the plate based on where they hit in a lineup.

    if you want a great example of this, just look at Shane Victorino’s career numbers as a leadoff hitter vs. anyplace else in the lineup. his BB profiles change, his BB and K rates change, and his plate discipline is severely altered.

    That stems from baseball players being conditioned to specific roles in specific positions. so while lineup optimization in theory makes a lot of sense, the human element introduces variables into it that just don’t do it for me.

    2. I’m a huge believer in advanced metrics at the major league level. Its vital to ascertaining talent, and evaluating players. it has to be combined heavily with scouting and coaching reports at the minor league level. it’s imperative. Mainly because at that level, players are constantly tinkering, constantly being told to work on things that severely affect the data.

    When you take a AA power hitter and tell him “for the next month you are not allowed to swing at the first pitch, and I want you to drive every offspeed pitch you see to RF” that’s going to have a massive effect on the numbers. So as effective as Sabermetrics are (and they are) as an evaluative tool, if you ignore the rest of it at the minor league level, you’re in trouble.

  16. hk

    July 18, 2013 12:21 PM

    joecatz,

    That’s a good perspective on lineup optimization. My problem with lineup optimization is that the studies were all done based on data compiled while managers weren’t using optimal lineups. Put differently, the optimization studies minimize the importance of the 3-hole based on data accumulated when teams typically put lesser hitters / guys with lower OBP’s in the 2-hole. However, if teams ever do start putting their top 2 OBP guys in the lead-off spot and the 2-hole, the relative importance of the 3-hole will increase.

  17. Phillie697

    July 18, 2013 01:03 PM

    Here is why I think lineup optimization doesn’t matter all that much, despite taking into consideration what joecatz said about the human element: I don’t think players approach hitting differently because of where they hit in the lineup; they change their approach depending on game situation. Like, if there is a man on base, how many outs there are, if there is a runner in scoring position, whether the pitcher is pitching out of the stretch. And that’s what I think joecatz is talking about. For example, using his Vic scenario, it isn’t so much that Vic’s numbers are different because he was batting leadoff or not, but because in batting leadoff, he was often times seeing a different game situation than he would have if he batted elsewhere in the lineup.

    In that respect, that is why lineup optimization CAN matter, but it’s also why it doesn’t matter that much more than the simple fact that the earlier you bat in the lineup, the more PAs you’ll get, so you want you better hitters to be as high up as you can put them. I have done no studies to back that up, nor am I a former player beyond the high school level, but I can tell you right now, if I’m coming up to bat and the bases are empty, it wouldn’t have mattered to me whether somehow the leadoff hitter in the lineup or batting 8th; as far as I’m concerned, I’m the leadoff hitter that inning.

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