Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Alex Cobb
Betting odds: Baltimore Orioles vs. Cleveland Indians
- Orioles Moneyline: +175 (Alex Cobb)
- Indians Moneyline: -195 (Adam Plutko)
- Over/Under: 9
- First pitch: Aug. 18 — 4:05 p.m. ET
- Channel: FS1
As my involvement in this baseball season comes to a close — college football starts next weekend! Hawaii-Colorado State, who’s excited?!? — let’s take a quick stroll down memory lane.
I thought I could get through the whole year without betting the Mets, but I did that a bunch. Betting on the Marlins? Did that just last week, and it pushed somehow. Placing some hard-earning money on the Orioles and Royals? Did that too, with some productive results (amazing, I know).
But betting on Cobb, the Orioles starter? This is not a place I thought we’d ever reach, my friends.
It seems almost impossible to do. But here we are, on Aug. 18, and the Indians’ Plutko is -200 in the first five innings of a Major League Baseball game. So, I guess anything’s really possible.
Cobb is the unlikeliest of pitchers to garner support this season. The dude started the season 2-14! Opponents hit .484 off of him in 11.2 innings in April.
Sites such as Fangraphs and Baseball Reference give a “game score” for each start, a metric invented by Bill James, where the average is 50. Cobb has gotten a score of 4 in TWO starts this season.
But something interesting has happened as the season has gotten further along. The Orioles haven’t been winning that much more, but Cobb has been pitching excellently. His ERA splits by month for June/July/August: 6.67/4.34/1.35.
And it’s not coming against league-average competition, either: Cobb pitched well against BOTH the Yankees and Red Sox.
This is an insane turnaround, one that merits our attention today against the Indians.
It was hard to put proper projections into a model for a guy such as Cobb, but seeing such consistent form in August, I’d be likely to lean much more heavily on recent results, especially considering his career arc and history.
Meanwhile, the Indians called up Plutko to start Saturday’s game as an injury replacement for Trevor Bauer.
Plutko proved to be quite hittable during his two-month stint with Cleveland earlier this year.
After getting off to a strong start in May, he posted a 5.40 ERA in June and hasn’t started a game since the All-Star break.
His metrics suggest he was pitching a little worse than that 5.40 suggests as well, with a low strikeout rate and much-lower-than-average BABIP.
One of the best things about this first 5 innings bet? I don’t have to worry about the Orioles bullpen whatsoever.
The difference in lineups here can’t completely account for this much of a price difference between the teams.
Baltimore clearly has the better starter on the mound. So I have no choice but to scratch another “first” off my list and — gulp — bet on Cobb in this spot.