The Orioles announced Friday that righty Alex Cobb has been placed on the injured list. Right-hander Branden Kline has been selected from the team’s alternate training site in his place. Additionally, outfielder Mason Williams cleared waivers and was assigned outright to the alternate site, while infielder Ramon Urias has been added as the 29th man for today’s twin bill.
No reason was provided for Cobb’s IL placement, and manager Brandon Hyde would only state that the club is “following protocol” and hopes Cobb can return soon (Twitter link via MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski). That will surely lead to Covid-19 speculation, although it’s worth reminding that a player can be placed on the Covid-19 IL not only for testing positive but also for exhibiting symptoms or coming into contact with someone who has since tested positive. Righty Tom Eshelman will start in Cobb’s place today.
Cobb, 32, is in the midst of what has been a mostly solid rebound campaign. He was torched by the Blue Jays in his most recent start but still carries a 4.33 ERA with 6.1 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 1.27 HR/9 and an impressive 55.9 percent ground-ball rate. He was viewed as a possible trade candidate prior to the deadline earlier this week, though Baltimore surely would’ve had to pay down the bulk of his contract in order to facilitate a deal; Cobb is being paid a $14MM salary in 2020 (prorated to $5.04MM) and is also set to be paid $15MM in 2021 — the final season of his four-year, $57MM deal.
The 28-year-old Kline was hit hard in his debut campaign last year, yielding a 5.93 ERA with a 34-to-19 K/BB ratio and nine homers allowed in 41 innings. Last year’s poor showing aside, however, Kline has had some success in the upper minors. The 2012 second-rounder missed all of the 2016-17 seasons but came back with a brilliant 1.64 ERA, 9.7 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 through 65 2/3 minor league frames. He’ll give the O’s some depth in the ’pen with Cobb sidelined for a yet-to-be-determined period of time.
Williams, 29, went 2-for-11 with the O’s in a small sample before he was removed from the roster. The former Yankees prospect had a solid showing with the 2018 Reds when he hit .293/.331/.398 in a career-high 132 plate appearances, but he hasn’t had much success (or opportunity) at the MLB level outside that 51-game stint. He’ll stay on hand as depth in the team’s 60-man player pool and is eligible to rejoin the club later this season, should a need arise.