As the Boston Red Sox get set to face New York Yankees right-hander Gerrit Cole on Friday night at Fenway Park, one of Cole’s betting propositions has been fascinating to follow of late.
Some American sportsbooks offer markets on a starting pitcher’s strikeouts. It’s literally an “Over” or “Under” bet on a total decided by oddsmakers.
During the first month of the season, Cole’s strikeout prop was routinely set around O/U 9.5 with juice to the “Over.” In six April starts, Cole struck out eight, 13, eight, 10, 11 and 12 batters. So 9.5 was a damn good number to use for Cole in the early going.
Thing is, Cole’s strikeout numbers really suffered in May and June. And bookmakers gradually shortened the prop number from 9.5 to 8.5 to 7.5.
Gerrit Cole strikeouts (May/June):
5/6 vs. HOU – 4
5/12 at TB – 12
5/17 at TEX – 7
5/22 vs. CHW – 7
5/28 at DET – 5
6/3 vs. TB – 7
6/9 at MIN – 9
— Spider Tack ban —
6/16 at TOR – 4
6/22 vs. KC – 6
6/27 at BOS – 6
Cole did show flashes of his old self in his last two outings by striking out 23 batters in 15 innings against the Houston Astros and Red Sox. And yet his prop Friday still is set at O/U 7.5.
Without even knowing what the prop market looked like, NESN Red Sox analyst Lenny DiNardo responded with eight when asked how many strikeouts Cole would have Friday night.
“The key with Cole is that you’ve got to get to him early,” DiNardo explained. “Guys are hitting over .450 against him on the first pitch. But he’s going to want to compete against the Red Sox. Rivalry games like this drive him and he’ll bring the energy. Good luck taking him out of the game.”
The scary thing with shorting a guy like Cole — or Shane Bieber of the Cleveland Indians — is that either guy realistically could strike out 10 batters on any given night. But I believe the placement of this number tells a story. And Cole has struck out seven batters or less in eight of his last 11 starts.
Here’s hoping the Boston bats stay aggressive early in at-bats and knock Cole around in the first few innings. Count me in on “Under” 7.5 strikeouts.
Gerrit Cole U7.5 Ks -115
RECORD: (43-43, -4.0)
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