Oct 9, 2018

Late Seventies Mets Pitcher: Kevin Kobel (1978-1980)

Kevin Richard Kobel was born October 2, 1953 in Buffalo New York. 

In 1971 after graduating from St. Francis High at Colden, New York he was quickly drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 10th round of that year’s draft.

The six foot lefthander won 12 games at AA Shreveport in 1973 & was brought right up to the big leagues for a September cup of coffee.

Kobel was just 19 years old when he made his MLB debut on September 8th, in New York against the A.L. team. It didn’t turn out that well as he got pounded for four earned runs over two innings pitched. He made his first start on September 28th, going six innings allowing four runs earning the loss. He made just two appearances that season.

With a good Spring Training in 1974 he was given a spot in the Brewers rotation alongside Jim Slaton, Jim Colborn, Clyde Wright & Billy Champion. Kobel went 6-14 on the year, with two shut outs posting a 3.99 ERA for the 5th place Brewers team. Arm troubles set him back & he only pitched seven games in the Pacific Coast League at AAA Sacramento in 1975.

In 1976 Kobel returned to pitch 32 games at AAA Spokane going 7-12 but struggled with a 5.50 ERA. He was brought up to the Brewers in September pitching three games, two of them against the AL New York team. He took his only decision, a loss, on September 17th after blowing a save. The next year he spent the entire season at AAA Spokane, improving to 12-6 with a 4.94 ERA making two saves.

Kobel looked like he belonged on the Welcome Back Kotter television show, teaching the sweat hogs with his beard & puffy hair.

But instead the Gabe Kaplin look alike, worked hard to get back to pitching.

The New York Mets gave him a chance in 1978 as he began the year at AAA Tidewater, going 2-1 with a 2.42 ERA. He got called up to a weak Mets staff at the end of May. Kobel made his Mets debut on May 20th finishing off a 9-4 loss at Shea Stadium. In his first nine appearances the Mets lost every game, although Kobel was only the losing pitcher of record in one of them.

On July 8th he got a start against the Chicago Cubs & pitched six shutout innings to earn his first victory in four seasons. In early September he threw a complete game shutout against the Pittsburgh Pirates, allowing just one run on two hits.

On October 1st, he won the last game of the year, allowing only one run through seven innings of work at Wrigley Field in Chicago. On the season he would go 5-6 with a 2.91 ERA, getting 11 starts and making 21 relief appearances.

In 1979 he began the season in late April with two relief appearances. He was then thrown into the starting rotation and pitched well. He was 2-0 that month, going into the 8th inning three times while never allowing more than two runs in any start.

Unfortunately he only got credit with one win in those games. On June 16th, Kobel threw a three hit shutout against the Atlanta Braves at Shea Stadium. It turned out to be his last really good outing of his career.

The rest of the way he went 3-6 for the last place Mets, finishing the year at 6-8 with a 3.54 ERA. He only struck out 67 batters while walking 46 in 162 innings pitched.

1980 proved to be the end of the line for Kobel, after 14 games he was 1-4, giving up 19 earned runs in 24 innings. He was sent back down to AAA Tidewater in mid June & never got back to the big leagues.

In his six season career he went 18-34 with 205 strikeouts in 405 innings pitched, posting a 3.88 ERA in 115 games.

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