After right-hander David Hess delivered the Orioles’ fifth quality start in the last 10 games last night, right-hander Alex Cobb (3-15, 5.31 ERA) will look to add to that total this afternoon. After Friday’s 2-1 loss at Cleveland, the Orioles play the second game of a three-game set with the Indians.
Cobb has two of those five quality starts and he’s been pitching his best ball of the year lately. Cobb has allowed exactly one earned run in four of his past five starts. He has recorded four consecutive quality starts, pitching to an ERA of 2.08. He has five quality starts his past six games with an ERA of 2.17.
Cobb has seen a resurgence in recent games with his split-finger fastball, which serves as his changeup. While he threw the pitch 17 percent in April, 20 percent in May and 8 percent in June, he has used that pitch 26 percent of the time in July and 41 percent this month. He has also gotten more swings and misses on the pitch recently than at any other time in 2018. Opposing batters whiffed at the pitch at a 17 percent clip in July and on 18 percent of those pitches this month. Batters hit .300 off his splitter in June, but have hit just .177 against it in July and .171 in August.
After Cobb took a tough loss Sunday versus Boston, he talked about his recent solid pitching. He went seven innings allowing six hits and two runs (one earned) against the Red Sox on 106 pitches.
“The results are good,” Cobb said after that game. “I’m very happy with the way the line looks after those games, but there’s a lot of things where you look at the game within the game of pitching and mistakes that you might get away with here and there that you know aren’t sustainable throughout the course of a season or just a long stretch. I’m missing a lot with certain things that I probably won’t say in the media. There’s things that I can get better at. That will be the fine-tuning part. Once I get that, I can’t tell you the results are going to get any better, but I’ll feel better about what I’m doing.”
Despite Cobb’s pitching better as the season has gone on, the Orioles are only 4-18 in his 22 games. They are just 1-8 in Cobb’s past nine starts.
Right-hander Adam Plutko (4-2, 4,75 ERA) will get the start for the Indians. In nine big league games this year, six as a starter, he has gone 4-2 with a 4.67 ERA. He has allowed a .324 batting average against lefties and .200 versus right-handers. Plutko is 7-3 with a 1.70 ERA this year at Triple-A and in his two most recent starts on the farm he threw 11 1/3 scoreless.
The Orioles’ Trey Mancini has hit safely in 18 of 25 games since the All-Star break, batting .306 (30-for-98) with five home runs, four doubles and 14 RBIs in the second half. His 17 home runs are tied for the team lead among active Orioles with Mark Trumbo. Mancini’s eight outfield assists this season are tied for sixth in the American League and are tied for 10th in the majors.
The Orioles (36-86) and the Indians (70-51) play the sixth game of seven matchups between the two clubs this season. The Indians lead the season series 4-1 and Cleveland won the 2017 season series 6-1. The Orioles have lost seven of their last eight. Cleveland has won six in a row and 13 of 16.
On the farm Friday, Double-A Bowie’s Austin Hays went 4-for-4 with two doubles, a homer and three RBIs. A few games back, he had a three-hit day. Over those last four games, Hays is 8-for-15 with three doubles, two homers and eight RBIs. He has 11 RBIs in his past seven games.