No-Hitter Alert!? Astros’ Dominant Cole on Mound vs. Athletics

Tuesday, May 8, 2018 2:44 PM UTC

Tuesday, May. 8, 2018 2:44 PM UTC

Obviously, it would be stupid to predict a no-hitter in an MLB game, but as good as Houston’s Gerrit Cole has been this season it wouldn’t surprise anyone if he threw one Wednesday afternoon in Oakland.

Houston Astros at Oakland A’sFree MLB Pick: Under & Astros RLBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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It’s getaway day for a handful of teams around baseball Wednesday as they wrap up early-week series. That’s the case between the Astros and A’s in Oakland with a 3:35 p.m. ET first pitch on the MLB Network.

All eyes here will be on Houston’s Gerrit Cole, an early favorite for the American League Cy Young. The Astros stole Cole from Pittsburgh back in January for young pitchers Joe Musgrove and Michael Feliz, infielder Colin Moran and outfielder Jason Martin. Why did the Bucs give up the No. 1 overall pick from the 2011 draft? Because they decided to rebuild and because Cole was going to be way out of their price range when he hit free agency after the 2019 season.

Usually, pitchers who go from the National League to the AL find it a little tougher because of course the AL teams have designated hitter instead of facing a pitcher at-bat a few times per game. Yet, Cole has been utterly dominant at 3-1 with a 1.42 ERA (second in AL), 0.69 WHIP (second) and 77 strikeouts (first). Those strikeouts are the most by a pitcher in his first seven starts with a team in MLB history (previously Chris Sale, 73 in 2017). Cole has reached notched double-digit strikeouts five times. In 127 starts for Pittsburgh, he did it six times.

Are you familiar with the statistic Game Score for a pitcher? I’m not going to get into all the math, but a Game Score of 50 is considered average. Anything in the 80s and 90s is fantastic. There have only been 14 games to reach at least 100. Cole’s last start was one of them (100 on the dot). He threw his first complete-game shutout, allowing just one hit and striking out a career-high 16 in Arizona. The Ks were the second-most in franchise history. The lone hit was a fifth-inning double to left field by Chris Owings. Cole’s performance was rather overlooked because it came last Friday and that was the same night Albert Pujols joined the 3,000-hit club and four Dodgers pitchers combined to throw the season’s second no-hitter.

If you are wondering, the highest Game Score ever was Kerry Wood’s 20-strikeout one-hitter of the Astros on May 6, 1998 (105). The second-best score this year (95) was Oakland lefty Sean Manaea’s no-hitter on April 21 vs. Boston where he struck out 10 and walked two.

Cole’s worst start of the year was April 29 in a no-decision vs. Oakland and it was still pretty good as he threw 6.2 innings and allowed three runs with 12 strikeouts in a no-decision. Jonathan Lucroy has seen him more than any Oakland player, going 9-for-21 with two doubles and seven RBIs. Stephen Piscotty (he’s supposed to be back with team even though his mother recently died) is 5-for-19 with a double. No A’s player has gone yard off Cole.

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Mengden on Bump for A’s

It’s 25-year-old right-hander Daniel Mengden for Oakland. He was a 2014 fourth-round pick of Houston but traded to Oakland in a deal for Scott Kazmir in July 2015. Mengden (2-3, 4.30) took a no-decision in his last start, allowing one run and three hits over five against Baltimore. He only walked one and hasn’t walked more than one in any of his seven starts with a terrific 29:5 K/BB ratio. Mengden is 5-4 with a 2.97 ERA over his last 12 starts compared to 2-10 with a 6.86 ERA over the first 16 starts of his career

Mengden pitched in Houston on April 28 and struggled, lasting a season-low 2.1 innings and surrendering five runs and six hits. Mengden is 0-3 with an 8.10 ERA in three starts AL West teams compared to 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in four starts against all other teams. He is 0-3 with a 7.23 ERA in five career starts against Houston.

A few Astros hit him very well. Jose Altuve is 7-for-14 with a homer and four RBIs. Carlos Correa is 5-for-10 with a homer and five knocked in. Alex Bregman is 3-for-4 with a double.

  • Astros are 5-1 in Cole’s last 6 starts following a Quality Start in his last appearance.
  • Athletics are 1-4 in Mengden’s last 5 starts vs. Astros.
  • Under is 4-1 in Athletics’ last 5 during game 3 of a series.

I’ll be taking the ‘under’ for an MLB pick here as Cole could well blank Oakland for however long he goes. Mengden has been much better at home (3.23 ERA in five starts this year) than on the road (8.59 ERA in two outings). A smaller lean on Houston on the runline.

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