If you want to make a wager on the Orioles to win the American League East, you’ll get 12-1 odds right now through the online sportsbook Bovada. Here are the odds released earlier this week. Meanwhile, eight teams are listed ahead of the Orioles with odds in terms of winning this year’s AL championship.
AL East - Odds to win
New York Yankees - 1/1
Boston Red Sox - 7/4
Toronto Blue Jays - 17/4
Baltimore Orioles - 12/1
Tampa Bay Rays - 12/1
2018 AL Pennant - Odds to win
Houston Astros - 11/4
New York Yankees - 11/4
Cleveland Indians - 13/4
Boston Red Sox - 6/1
Los Angeles Angels - 14/1
Minnesota Twins - 18/1
Seattle Mariners - 18/1
Toronto Blue Jays - 20/1
Baltimore Orioles - 40/1
Tampa Bay Rays - 40/1
Texas Rangers - 45/1
Chicago White Sox - 75/1
Kansas City Royals - 75/1
Oakland Athletics - 75/1
Detroit Tigers - 150/1
Good first outing for the southpaw: Nestor Cortes Jr., taken by the Orioles in the Rule 5 draft in December, got on the mound for the first time wearing an O’s uniform last night. It went pretty well. He gave up one run and one hit over two innings in ,. He threw 23 pitches, 16 for strikes and clearly impressed his skipper.
“Very professional, does a lot of little things well,” said manager Buck Showalter. “Good start for him. I thought we pitched well today for the most part. I was happy with him. ... The thing you can’t test analytically, he’s got some moxie. He’s got a feel for the competition.”
Cortes is trying to beat the odds, make the O’s roster and possibly the starting rotation as a Rule 5 pick. He has certainly overcome some odds just to get this far when you consider he was taken in the 36th round with the 1,094th overall pick in the 2013 draft out of Hialeah High School in Florida. That is the same school that produced the Nationals’ Gio Gonzalez, who has become a friend, mentor and workout partner for Cortes.
In the 2016 season, Cortes went 11-4 with a 1.53 ERA over 106 innings with 24 walks, 115 strikeouts and a .167 average against. Last season, mostly at Double-A and Triple-A, he was 7-4 with a 2.06 ERA. Over 104 2/3 innings, he walked 32, fanned 105 and yielded a .211 average. Yeah, pretty nice numbers.
For his five-season minor league career, Cortes has an ERA of 2.08, a walk rate of 2.11 per nine innings and strikeout rate of 9.55 batters per nine innings with a WHIP of 1.00.
If like me, you enjoy watching pitchers that can’t light up any radar guns but still get outs, Cortes may be for you. He often tops out at 88-90 mph on his fastball. But he changes speeds and arm slots to keep hitters off-balance. It’s way too early to get carried away with his chance to help the Orioles this year. But he impressed Showalter at the January mini-camp and that continued last night.
But it’s only spring training: Yep, it is. It is nice to have games back but they don’t count and it is always a challenge to know how to read spring training stats and results. They are certainly not completely meaningless, but are they ever meaningful?
For a player like Cortes, they could be. Certainly, he can impress Showalter without an impressive pitching line each time out, but it doesn’t hurt. Whether he is getting out established major leaguers or a Single-A prospect in a game in Florida, it is still his chance to show his stuff.
We probably overanalyze spring training results. But after the long, cold winter, everyone is glad baseball is back and it’s all we have right now. So the spring box scores get more scrutiny than they probably deserve.
As a fan, what do you look to learn from during spring training?