Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
In the era of Clayton Kershaw, it is hard to put anyone ahead of him for any pitching accolade.
That would be like trying to argue someone was a better singer than Frank Sinatra was in his era.
With a preference to Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby and Elvis myself, I have tried to make that argument with very little success, so maybe I should just stick to baseball.
Kershaw is in a class of his own. He looks poised to become the first left- handed pitcher in the history of baseball to win his third CY Young Award before the age of 27. One pitcher, however, if we were to award a fantasy CY Young Award for the second half, can throw his hat in the ring next to Kershaw's.
Felix Hernandez, Adam Wainwright and Max Scherzer would probably be Cole, Crosby and Elvis in the above analogy, perhaps Chris Sale and Corey Kluber too.
But none of those guys are competing with Kershaw's second half numbers. It is the little-known pitcher from the Tampa Bay Rays that is: Alex Cobb.
Crazy right? Cobb is as close to Kershaw as Bobby Darin was to Sinatra. Maybe not even that close.
The numbers don't lie though. Cobb is 5-1 with a 1.05 WHIP and 66 strikeouts in 64 innings after the All-Star Break. Plus his 1.27 ERA is the best among starters. Yes, even better than Kershaw's 1.60 ERA after the break.
Kershaw has a lower WHIP (0.82), more strikeouts (76), and more innings (73), but Cobb's astonishing ERA and record would keep him in the conversation for the second half CY Young.
Because of a poor May and June, during which he had returned from an oblique injury, Cobb's season stats sit at 9-7, 2.83 ERA, 134 strikeouts and 1.16 WHIP in 140 innings.
Cobb rebounded to pitch to a 4-0 record with a 2.23 ERA in July and a 2-1 mark with 1.49 ERA in August. In his last 31 and 2/3 innings, he has yielded three earned runs, including a seven shutout inning performance against the first- place Orioles on Friday.
Can he keep it up the last three weeks of the season is always a reasonable question. It is certainly a hard pace to maintain. Either way, Cobb has proved he is much, much more than just a fantasy plug-in starter.
Kershaw is still my guy, but Cobb owners can definitely feel very good about the fantasy stretch run.