Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports
Jarred Cosart heard it all offseason.
Average walk and strikeout rates brought talk the 1.95 ERA he posted was due for some form of “regression” in 2014.
He was quick to defend himself in social media.
On the eve of his first spring start, a short interview with Cosart aired on CSN Houston, with the second year pitcher sounding contrite and confident with the adjustments he made this off-season.
"“The knock last year, with all the walks, that’s something I had to live with all off-season…hearing everybody talk about it…I didn’t have to deal with that in the minor leagues”"
The amount of runners put on base via the walk over his 60 major-league innings is a legitimate criticism. Post-promotion, his walk rate increased to 5.3 BB/9, as opposed to a career minor-league number of 3.6 BB/9. To help, Cosart developed an uncanny ability to leave runners on-base 85.9% of the time. An above league-average ground ball rate of 54.5% is effective at quashing rallies, but reducing the amount of free runners would help, also.
Cosart failed to bring his high minor-league strikeout rate (7.8K/9IP) with him upon promotion last summer, but that shouldn’t mean it will stall at his 2013 rate (5.0/9) going forward.
During his ascent through the Phillies system (2009-10), he notched a strikeout rate of 8.6/9. 2011 brought a promotion to high-A Clearwater and later a trade to the Astros in July, but also a dip in K/9.
Cosart would save perhaps his best minor-league work for AAA. His K/9 spiked to its highest level (8.7/9) since rookie ball as he readied for a promotion to Houston.
On his word, Cosart seems to understand where his shortcomings are: Putting too many runners on-base. It could be a problem that is remedied by logging major-league innings and taking advice from those that have been there before.
That said, manager Bo Porter cited an increased measure of maturity in Cosart this spring. The second-year starter is said to be shadowing off-season acquisition Scott Feldman, looking to glean information that could help solidify his long-term role in the Astros rotation.
He also seems to realize the importance of working out mechanical issues in a bullpen session.
"“I made some small mechanical adjustments…you know, it’s something simple…it’s more with my rhythm. Which is obviously, when you get out there in front of 40,000 people in Texas…it’s a little more difficult to do in the bullpen. If you go to a major league spring training, and you watch the bullpens, they’re all going to be pretty good.”"
Anxious to carve out a sustained role with the Astros, Jarred Cosart understands this spring is the time to do it. His growth on-field and as a reliable clubhouse member is paramount for a club looking for leaders in both capacities.
Jarred Cosart makes his spring debut versus the Atlanta Braves today at 12:05 CST.
Some statistical analysis courtesy of Fangraphs.