Cobb’s career with Orioles begins today

BOSTON - The wait is over. The plastic comes off Alex Cobb today and the Orioles are allowed to play with their new toy.

Cobb finally gets to make his 2018 debut after simulated and extended spring training games. And he’ll try to give the Orioles their fourth quality start in the last five games.

This will be Cobb’s first major league outing since Sept. 22 at Camden Yards, when he allowed three runs over six innings in an 8-3 win. Chris Davis homered off him in the fourth inning. The Orioles used five relievers behind Ubaldo Jiménez, who lasted only three innings.

Cobb is 6-4 with a 3.43 ERA and 1.254 WHIP in 14 career starts against the Red Sox over 81 1/3 innings, and 5-1 with a 3.15 ERA and 1.375 WHIP in seven starts at Fenway Park over 40 innings.

Christian Vázquez is 8-for-11 (.727) lifetime against Cobb and J.D. Martinez is 4-for-8 with two doubles. If you prefer larger sample sizes, Mookie Betts is 6-for-20 (.300) with a double and home run.

Andrew Benintendi is 2-for-15 (.133) with a double and Jackie Bradley Jr. is 2-for-13 (.154) with a double and five strikeouts.

Cobb expressed his gratitude yesterday for having former Orioles left-hander Scott McGregor with him in Sarasota. McGregor serves as pitching rehabilitation coordinator. He works behind the scenes, but his contributions shouldn’t be ignored.

“It was beneficial and just very nice to have somebody to talk to, somebody that can relate to the things that you’re going through and put things in perspective,” Cobb said. “That was a lot of fun. A guy with his background, what he’s accomplished in his career, you feel like you’re talking to a mentor and somebody that can really settle things down and explain it. Like I said, it was enjoyable just to hang out with him and chat with him.”

Right-hander Hector Velázquez is making his fifth career start today and his first appearance against the Orioles. None of the current players have faced him.

Left-handers are 3-for-16 (.188) against Velázquez this season and right-handers are 5-for-18 (.278).

The Orioles didn’t announce their roster move last night. Someone has to step aside for Cobb.

Could they be waiting until today to check on second baseman Jonathan Schoop, who left last night’s game in the eighth inning with discomfort in his side? It cropped up on his last swing.

buck-showalter-looking-on-sidebar.jpgI don’t know the severity of it. Manager Buck Showalter mentioned it at the end of his postgame media session after I asked about Schoop’s removal. A two-sentence explanation that will be expanded this morning.

If the move doesn’t involve Schoop, and last night’s substitution may have been done only as a precaution, the Orioles could option Vielma or remove a pitcher. Mike Wright Jr. is out of options. Miguel Castro, Mychal Givens and Donnie Hart can be sent down.

(So can left-hander Richard Bleier, but there’s no way he’s coming off the roster.)

Hart just arrived as a second left-hander and it would be strange to send him back down and again leave Bleier as the only southpaw, especially against the Red Sox, who had five left-handed hitters in their lineup last night.

I wrote last night that Chris Tillman’s 21 consecutive starts without a win are a team record. Here’s the list, courtesy of STATS:

Chris Tillman: 21
David Hernandez: 16
Jason Johnson: 15
Jeremy Guthrie: 15
Mike Boddicker: 14 (twice)
Sidney Ponson: 14
Kevin Millwood: 14
Brian Matusz: 14

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