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Alex Cobb Injury: Rays starter set to return on Thursday

A strong rehab start followed by a promising bullpen session has the right-hander on track to start Thursday against the A's.

Joe Robbins

Tampa Bay Rays starter Alex Cobb threw a bullpen session on Monday and is set to return on Thursday to face the Oakland Athleticsaccording to the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin.

Cobb also pitched in a rehab start on Saturday, shutting down the Clearwater Threshers, the High-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. Cobb looked like his usual self in the start, striking out nine over five innings while allowing three hits and no walks or runs. He affirmed the good condition of his arm after the game, via Topkin's article:

"I went out there and just threw all my pitches," he said. "I didn't have any residual feelings of any pain coming back or any thought of any pain coming back. … Everything came out good, so I was pleased with it."

Cobb showed as much on Monday in his bullpen session, and barring an unexpected setback, he'll return to action after Jake Odorizzi and Erik Bedard start on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

The Rays badly need Cobb to bolster their struggling rotation, which has played a major role in the team's 19-26 start. Most notably, ace David Price has posted a 4.28 ERA across 10 rocky starts, and sophomore starter Chris Archer, who many pegged as a breakout candidate, has had an even rougher season with a 4.59 ERA. In fact, three of the rotation's five regular starters have ERAs over 4.50, with Bedard acting as the only bright spot. Manager Joe Maddon will undoubtedly hope Cobb can bring some sense of stability to a rotation that has lacked that quality thus far.

Cobb, who last pitched in a victory against the Cincinnati Reds on April 12, is certainly a good candidate to help out the rotation, having posted a 1.89 ERA across three starts (four runs allowed in 19 innings) before going down with a left oblique strain. He's made major strides in recent seasons, shaving 127 points off his ERA between 2012 and 2013 before getting off to a hot start this year. The Rays will be counting on him to return to form upon his return.