Alex Cobb hopes to pick up where former teammate Kevin Gausman left off when he makes his San Francisco Giants debut Tuesday night at home against the San Diego Padres.
San Diego scratched out a 4-2 win in the opener of the three-game series on Monday in a tightly contested matchup in which the losing pitcher (the Giants’ Tyler Rogers) and the pitcher who recorded the save (the Padres’ Taylor Rogers) are twin brothers.
The Giants lost Gausman, a National League Cy Young Award candidate last season, to free agency over the winter, but they brought in Cobb to help fill the void.
San Francisco imported Gausman, mostly a career disappointment, in anticipation of losing ace Madison Bumgarner to free agency in December 2019. In 2021, the right-hander was an All-Star for a Giants team that won a major league-high 107 games.
Cobb, another former top prospect who flamed out with the Baltimore Orioles, will be stepping into Gausman’s shoes this time around after a promising 2021 in which he went 8-3 with a 3.76 ERA for the Los Angeles Angels.
The 34-year-old right-hander felt he was pitching better than ever this spring, when he allowed just five hits and one run in 7 1/3 innings.
The most impressive number was 97. Cobb noticed it showed up on the radar gun on more than one occasion in Arizona.
“That’s new to me,” he said of throwing a pitch above 96 mph. “I think I had one 96 last year, possibly. Each year it’s just been kind of creeping up.”
A lifelong American League pitcher before this season, Cobb has made just one career start against the Padres. That came in 2013, when he struck out 13 in 4 2/3 innings but allowed two home runs and three runs overall in a no-decision.
The Padres will counter with Yu Darvish (0-0, 0.00 ERA), who will be making his second start of the season in hopes of duplicating what he accomplished against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday.
The 35-year-old right-hander was brilliant on Opening Day in Phoenix, throwing six no-hit innings with four walks and three strikeouts before being pulled from a scoreless tie after 92 pitches.
Darvish, who hadn’t thrown more than 4 1/3 innings in any spring outing, credited hard work during the lockout for contributing to a sensational opening performance.
“I did have in mind that the lockout might be extended a little bit,” he said of a program he began in January. “I just wanted to be prepared once we got going.”
Darvish has done much of his best pitching in March and April, when he has compiled an 18-10 record with a 3.00 ERA.
Two of those effective outings came against the Giants last April. He followed up a no-decision on April 6 vs. San Francisco (six innings, three hits, one run) with a win in an April 30 rematch (6 1/3 innings, four hits, one run). He went 0-1 with an 11.57 ERA in two September starts against the Giants.
Darvish is 2-1 with a 5.40 ERA in seven career starts against the Giants.
–Field Level Media