The San Francisco Giants and Alex Cobb believe they found a remedy for the impinged hip that bothered him for the better part of the season. But it will come at cost, a surgical procedure with a recovery timetable that knocks their No. 2 starter out for the start of next season.
Cobb, 36, is scheduled to undergo surgery on his left hip Tuesday in Vail, Colorado, the club announced. The procedure, performed by Dr. Marc Philippon, will prevent Cobb from pitching for approximately six months. Without accounting for typical six-week build up he will miss in spring training, that means Cobb won’t begin to pitch again until about the start of May.
One of only two Giants pitchers to log at least 20 starts and 150 innings, Cobb was named an All-Star for the first time in 2023, finishing with a 3.87 ERA while throwing his most innings since 2018. But throughout much of it, he had been pitching through an impingement in his left hip.
During the All-Star festivities in Seattle, Cobb sported a shiny 2.91 ERA next to his name. After the break, though, he pitched to a 5.25 mark.
Cobb said he first began to notice the issue during a June start in Colorado. But it wasn’t until after a rough outing in San Diego two months later that it was reported publicly, then-manager Gabe Kapler telling reporters in his office and Cobb confirming it was the case but downplaying the issue.
Just a week earlier, anyhow, he had come one out away from throwing a no-hitter. He also threw a career-high 131 pitches and would make only three more starts down the stretch before being shut down with two weeks left in the season.
Cobb later said the discomfort in his hip was “prevalent” in the no-hit bid. “But,” he said, “I would not solely put it on that, nor would I trade that night for anything.”
Doctors initially told Cobb they didn’t believe the issue would require surgical intervention, but after a month of rehab and multiple treatment therapies, Cobb and Dr. Philippon determined during a recent consultation that the operation was his best option. Cobb previously underwent a procedure to repair a similar issue in his right hip in 2019, though it was performed by a different doctor, in Nashville.
The free agent markets will open sometime in the next couple weeks — five days after the conclusion of the World Series — and the Giants now enter the bidding knowing they will be down one starter to begin next season. They have already been linked to the exciting Japanese right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto, regarded as the top pitcher available, with Farhan Zaidi confirming his recent trek to Osaka to watch a recent playoff outing by the soon-to-be-posted 25-year-old.
But Zaidi has also said the Giants didn’t plan to target anything below top-line starting pitching.
That was before it was known Cobb would opt for surgery. Will that change the calculus?
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On the free agent market, new manager Bob Melvin should be an attractive perk for Blake Snell and Sonny Gray, who have both played for him during stops in San Diego and Oakland, respectively. But the Giants also have a number of internal options, one reason why Zaidi was hesitent to add any more to the mix.
Kyle Harrison, Tristan Beck and Keaton Winn all made promising debuts last season and already figured into next season’s pitching plans. Changeup-wielding lefty Carson Whisenhunt, a second-round pick in 2022, should also join the mix at some point after rising quickly through the system last season.
While Alex Wood and Jakob Junis are set to become free agents, Anthony DeSclafani is still under contract and due back in time for spring training after undergoing season-ending surgery on his ankle in July. Ross Stripling is expected to be back after saying he plans to pick up his player option, while Sean Manaea faces the same decision but is seen as likelier to opt out, though potentially his former manager, Melvin, lures him back.