Coming over from the Philadelphia Phillies in 2011 in the Hunter Pence trade, Jarred Cosart made his major league debut in the middle of July last season for the Houston Astros. He dazzled in his performance, inducing ground ball after ground ball. Cosart went into the 7th with a no-hitter looking sharp before giving up his first hit of the game. He ended up going eight-plus innings giving up two hits. Cosart out-pitched reigning American League Cy Young award winner David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays.
Cosart went on to throw 60 innings for the Astros last season with a 1.95 ERA. Other than his high walk ratio, the start to his career could not have gone any better. He was walking a little over five batters per nine innings. Yet, he limited his mistakes by inducing ground balls and getting out of jams. Opposing hitters’ batting average of balls put into play (BABIP) against Cosart was only .246. His stellar rookie season led for high expectations in 2014.
This season didn’t start off well for Cosart. In April, Cosart started six games and had an ERA of 5.52. He was striking out a high rate of batters at almost seven and a half per nine innings, but his walk rate was still north of four while his ground ball percentage was at 54.4 He was trying to strikeout hitters too often when his bread and butter is the ground ball out. Cosart has made the adjustment in a big way.
In the month of June, Cosart has started five games. He has a 4-1 record with a 2.6 ERA which is best on the team in that stretch of time. His strikeout ratio is down to 5.71 batters per nine innings and his ground ball percentage has climbed to nearly 60 percent. But what is Cosart’s biggest reason for success recently? He isn’t walking batters.
Cosart’s knock on him has always been that he walks too many hitters. It was his problem in the minors, always around four per nine innings, and the majors. In June, Cosart has dropped his walk rate significantly to 1.82 walks every nine innings. His cutter is helping him out tremendously. Getting ground balls regularly, he is gaining more and more confidence to throw it whenever he wants in any count and it is paying big dividends.
It is enjoyable watching a kid learn how to pitch right before your eyes. He has found that his cut-fastball may just be his meal ticket to success in the majors. The way it has been working for him in the past month, I wouldn’t change a thing if I were him. I know of one other pitcher, a reliever for the New York Yankees, who had quite a career because if his cut-fastball.