At first glance, Jarred Cosart looks the part of a dominant Major League pitcher. He has outstanding velocity, filthy movement on everything he throws, and an exceptional minor league track record. On the other hand, there is Brett Oberholtzer. Aside from being left-handed and having a great last name, there wasn’t much that jumped out at you prior to his call-up on July 31st. He has a fastball that tops out around 90 mph, and was never much more than an above average minor league pitcher. Now that I’ve seen the two of them pitch for more than a month, I’m prepared to tell you who I think will have the better career as a starting pitcher.
As mentioned earlier, Jarred Cosart has the stuff to be an All-Star caliber starting pitcher. Unfortunately, I can’t say I’m completely sold on him just yet. There has always been concern over Cosart’s control. Over the past three minor league seasons, Cosart has averaged 4.1 BB/9 innings. The inability to consistently repeat his delivery is the main culprit. However, he was able to work around the walks in the minors thanks to his ability to rack up strikeouts (9.0 K/9).
David Banks-USA TODAY SportsIn Cosart’s ten MLB starts since being called up, the walks have risen from his minor league numbers, and the strikeout numbers have dropped. Since the All-Star break, Cosart has the highest BB/9 (5.54) and the lowest K/9 (0.97) among MLB starters. Thus far, the young righty has managed to avoid major damage with the use of his Rivera-esque cutter, but until he can figure out a way to level out those walk and strikeout numbers, he is begging for trouble. Sure he has a 1.95 ERA in the Bigs, but when you look at his 4.34 FIP you can see that he’s had plenty of luck on his side. Sooner or later those grounders that have been turned into double plays will start to find holes.
Perhaps the biggest affect of Cosart’s high walk rate this season was the high pitch counts and high-stress innings that came with that. In his last seven starts, Cosart managed to pitch past the sixth inning just once. If he is going to be a top-of-the-rotation pitcher on a team with a weak bullpen, he will need to consistently go deeper into games.
Brett Oberholtzer’s minor league numbers are not going to blow anyone away. He has a 3.83 career ERA, and he allowed 24 home runs last season between double-A and triple-A. However, the one number that jumps out to me is his 2.2 BB/9 over his minor league career. Never underestimate the importance of making hitters earn their way on.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY SportsSo far, Brett Oberholtzer is a better major leaguer than he was minor leaguer. Over his first seven MLB starts, he has thrown 47 innings and allowed just ten earned runs (1.91 ERA). The lefty has allowed only 1.34 BB/9 and has an impressive 4.43 K/BB ratio. Oberholtzer is holding hitters to a .225 average, with righties only batting .213. Armed with a two-seamer with good movement, a well-disguised changeup, and a slider and curve to boot, Brett separates himself from other pitchers with similar stuff with his pitchability. Obie just gets it! He has the Tom Glavine-like ability to keep hitters off-balance while nibbling at the edges of the strike zone.
From what I’ve seen from Cosart and Oberholtzer, I truly believe that both are special pitchers. I mean, I did just compare facets of their games to Mariano Rivera and Tom Glavine! I’ll stay with that comparison and say that I believe that Jarred Cosart will find his knack for pitching at the major league level in the back-end of the Astros’ bullpen. Think of the up-tick in velocity we may see if Cosart knows he’s only pitching one inning. I’ll also go out on a limb and say that Brett Oberholtzer will be an integral part of the Astros’ rotation the next time they finish above .500. Don’t agree with me? You should, because I’ve been correct on about 32% of my predictions so far!