During the second inning Tim texted me and told me to send him my impressions of Jarred Cosart which would be used in the game recap. That was the intention...until I started to email him. It turned into the following:
First, a few things to keep in mind. Debut's are exciting and fun, but don't hold a lot of evaluative value. There are tons of extra variables that skew the already small sample size. Emotions, limited advanced scouting, focus, competition, drive to prove value as well as drive to introduce a rookie to major league ball. There is so much to it. It can skew it one way or another. I'd be saying the same thing if Cosart got rocked. I'm an Astros fan first and want every prospect to succeed.
Now to the meat of the email.
There's no question that Cosart was phenomenal. Easily the best I've ever seen him, live or video. And, I don't mean results wise. I wasn't watching him closely for overall results. I was watching his mechanics, his pitches, his location, his demeanor, him. Just him.
I've seen him at his worst with repeating his mechanics and I've seen him do it fairly well. That was the best I've seen him repeat. That includes this year. There were times he floated out of it, but was usually able to recover quickly or get out of the inning. Early in the fifth they were beginning to fall apart and may have been the longest run of pitchers where his mechanics were off. They fell apart after the Zobrist hit for a few pitches but Evan Longoria was aggressive and swung at a few pitches he shouldn't have and ended up grounding into a double-play. The ninth was pretty poor and that is why Porter pulled him. The mechanics were drifting and Porter wanted to protect they young guy.
There were a few things I noticed about his delivery which I've talked about some before. It's much more controlled in his warm-up tosses. He'll throw 93-94 then go into the inning and start firing 96 with less command. There is some difference in his arm action that you can pick up with the curve ball. Arm speed slows down a bit with the pitch. He mixes his delivery with runners on base. The slide step works, nut his delivery out of the stretch can be a bit long and give good runners some extra time.
Stuff wise, he was everything you should have expected. Mid-90's fastball with movement in all directions. He can cut it and sink it. The curve can be lethal. It's a harder curve than most, mostly at 80MPH. The break can vary but is consistently in two planes. The changeup was rarely used but didn't look bad. He did throw a really nice sinker to Luke Scott that dove right under the bat on the outer corner which was possibly the best pitch he threw all night.
His control and command was on when he could repeat his mechanics. Carlos Corporan helped him out and framed some pitches very well to get him some calls. One in particular was early in the second in which an inside curve missed the plate and Corp framed it perfectly to get the call and get him ahead in the count for the at-bat that ended with a ground out on a borderline pitch. He did leave a few over the plate. The one that Ben Zobrist hit was one of his worst pitches. Easily in the zone and easy for a hitter like Zobrist to handle.
The curve was a pitch I wanted to watch and the majority were way down early and a pitch that was pretty easy to lay off of. Those were the best ones but not placed well enough. Around the fourth he started to locate it better but at the expense of less break. Still enough for weak contact, though.
For the most part he wasn't really challenged. He gave up some hard hit balls that most were directly at people, but he usually was able to recover and pitch well. The Rays were much more aggressive than what you will normally see from them and not being familiar with Cosart could have played a role in their struggle (Not trying to take away from his start at all). He was around the zone a whole lot and didn't give them many chances to be patient, but they definitely attacked more than usual. I saw lots of swings on borderline pitches that were well placed by Cosart but could have gone either way had they not been swung at.
The most notable one was the Longoria at bat after the Zobrist hit. He threw two balls and then Longoria chased way up out of the zone to bring it to 2-1. He then swung at borderline fastball that he hit on the ground to get Cosart out of the inning.
He was impressive, he was efficient, he was calm, he showed great stuff. You saw him at his best and his weaknesses were hidden for the most part. That's exactly what he'll have to do in order to be successful.
Only time will tell what kind of pitcher Cosart will really be. Again, I'm not trying to take away from his debut. He was much better than I expected and I'll be the first to say that, but it's hardly enough to base any type of conclusion on. This is a nice start and an exciting start. Great game, Jarred. You've put in a lot of work for the opportunity and you made the best of it. Enjoy it.