Monday night, I checked in on Zach Plesac, in what was his 14th start of the season for the Cleveland Indians. His first of the campaign, on May 28, was also his MLB debut. His first and 14th, both were against the defending champion Boston Red Sox.
The Indians won Monday, while Plesac took the no-decision. And it got me wondering about my column from early March, about the Virgin Victory, on pitchers who made their big-league debut in a starting role. I wondered how the same pitchers did the second time around against the team they debuted against.
The system, by the way, is 24-13 on the year. With some fantastic prices during a 9-3 run in June, baseball bettors following this system are up 14.3 units since the start of the season. So, $100 bettors playing starting pitchers making their MLB debut are up $1,430 with those 37 plays alone.
The monthly breakdown for the system is as follows: March (2-2), April (4-1), May (5-3), June (9-3), July (4-2) and August (0-2).
But how about the second time around?
There have been 13 pitchers who faced the team they debuted against, a second time at some point this season. The rookie pitchers’ teams are 8-6 in those games, including 3 of 4 after the Indians’ win on Monday with Plesac.
But I needed to dig deeper, as I’m always looking for an angle.
If a pitcher won his debut, his team is 5-3 in that return engagement. If a pitcher lost his debut, his squad is 3-3 the next time he faces that team. And if the rookie hurler has his rematch at home, his team is 3-5.
So that leaves us with one scenario, and I was a bit shocked when I saw it.
When a starting pitcher faces the team he debuted against a second time, and that encounter is on the road, his squad is a sterling 5-1.
I found my angle.
Now I have to keep an eye on 22 pitchers (see graphic) for the remainder of the season.
Some pitchers have been optioned back to the farm system but could return when rosters are expanded, or non-playoff teams shut down some of their veterans for maintenance. Other rookies have found a place in their respective rotations and just haven’t had that second chance at their debut foe.
Two of them have been traded — Logan Allen, from San Diego to Cleveland, and Zac Gallen, from Miami to Arizona — and four of them, including Allen, would be an Interleague game.
Keep an eye on this, with the pitchers I’ve identified, and if you see them facing their debut opponent, gauge the price accordingly. And if they happen to be pitching on the road, I highly advise you to make the play.
Now, off last week’s 2-1 showing to get back to .500, let’s take a look at this week’s selections:
Mets at Braves: While the LFGM t-shirts have circulated from Queens to online shops, not to mention the hashtag infiltrating the Internet, the Marcus Stroman-project has yet to materialize. In two starts since joining the Mets, the veteran right-hander has a sky-high 6.10 after a six-inning, four-run allowance vs. the Nationals. His next assignment will be tougher. Braves starter Julio Teheran hasn’t had his best stuff against the Mets this season, but he’s recorded a quality start in five of his past seven outings. This is a pivotal game in many ways. BRAVES
Mets at Royals: It’ll likely be pricey, but one day after siding against the Mets, I’m thinking they’ll leave Atlanta and will look to flex their muscles against Kansas City. This is a great spot for Noah Syndergaard, who has thrown at least seven innings in five consecutive starts. Now he takes on a team he is 2-0 against, and remember, beat in the 2015 World Series. Yes, that was four years ago. But it was also when the Royals were American League champs. Now they’re an A.L. cramp, with one of the least productive offenses in the league. METS
Cardinals at Reds: I’ll continue to look at every game Luis Castillo starts for Cincinnati, as the legit National League Cy Young-candidate has been its most consistent starter. The right-hander is 11-4 with a 2.69 ERA on the year, and over his last two starts — against the Angels and the Cubs — he’s recorded 21 strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings. Now the dominating part, he has a 1.50 ERA and struck out 12 over 12 innings against St. Louis this season. Nothing changes here, as Castillo pitches his team in a position to win. REDS
Last week: 2-1