After last night's game - a rather forgettable loss to the Rangers - the Rays called up top prospect Alex Cobb for today's start, demoting bullpen arm Brandon Gomes in the process. With Jeff Niemann injured and Wade Davis struggling, Cobb is just the player Rays fans want to see right now: he's young, has pitched wonderfully in Triple-A, and he's not named Andy Sonnanstine.
Cobb isn't a light-the-world-on-fire, oh-my-gosh-I-can't-wait prospect like Jeremy Hellickson was last season, as most scouts have been somewhat skeptical of his upside. He doesn't throw hard heat and he doesn't have any sexy curves or sliders; instead, he succeeds primarily with a dominant change-up and pinpoint control, a combination that's been quite successful for him throughout the minors. You'd be hard pressed to find a crack or weakness in his stats; he's succeeded at every level of the minors, striking out 9.5 batters per nine in both Double-A and Triple-A these last two years while walking around two per nine.
While the Rays' minor league system is loaded with pitching prospects with higher ceilings than Cobb (like Matt Moore, Alex Torres, and Chris Archer), Cobb has the advantage of being the most refined and major-league ready of the bunch. He's only 23-years-old, but he's already shown that he doesn't have much else to prove in the minors and considering the Rays have a plethora of other arms, they don't need to worry about his service time and can risk rushing him slightly.
Cobb was called up for one game earlier this season, and he got hit around by the Angels in that start, lasting only four innings and allowing eight baserunners. His command was shaky, likely due to nerves, and he made the mistake of tipping his pitches by waggling his glove whenever he was going to throw a fastball. Maddon and Cobb both stated last night that the problem has been fixed and behind him, so the Rangers won't be able to rely on that to help them tonight.
Tonight's game is a 6:40 PM start. For more news and analysis on the Rays, follow SB Nation's blog DRaysBay.