Miami Marlins at Chicago Cubs
First pitch: 5:05 p.m. PT
Probable pitchers: Caleb Smith (3-0, 2.00 ERA) vs. Jon Lester (2-1, 1.73 ERA)
There is no weather staple in sports that can affect an over/under quite like the trademark Wrigley Field winds. Tonight’s second encounter in this four-game set between the Marlins and Cubs illustrates just that.
Normally, a matchup emanating from a National League park featuring starting pitchers the caliber of Smith and Lester would generally attract an over/under ranging from 7-8 — or considerably higher if the winds are blowing out — but in this instance, the opposite effect will be in place, hence why the line here has opened at a low 6.5.
While that number can be intimidating, especially since it involves a shaky Marlins bullpen, I’m still willing to pursue the under nonetheless.
Lester has been outstanding thus far in his fifth year with the Cubs. He hasn’t allowed more than two runs in any of his five starts, and despite having to briefly go on the injured list at one point, the 35-year-old has maintained his strong beginning. Since coming off the IL, in fact, he’s yielded just one run and five hits total in two assignments, spanning 12 innings.
There’s at least a pretty good chance he can keep that going on this night given the opponent. Like last year, Miami has struggled with left-handed pitching. In 2018, they finished dead-last in team OPS (.643) against southpaws, and this season, they’ve been even worse in that regard, as evident in their .596 OPS.
They’ve launched only five homers — tied for the fewest in baseball — in 273 at-bats with a lefty on the hill and as a result, it doesn’t seem likely they’ll be able to go yard in this one with the infamous Wrigley winds blowing in mightily. Additionally, Lester has typically been steadier at home as a Cub, being 32-19 in 73 starts within the Friendly Confines to go with a 3.31 ERA for his career.
The winds also figure to give a boost to Smith, not that he needs the help considering the sensational work he’s put together up to this point. The former Yankee farmhand has yet to surrender more than three runs in any outing and he also enters this affair having put together five consecutive quality starts.
Most impressive of all, Smith has been racking up K’s like an elite strikeout artist, something he showed glimpses of last year as a rookie before a shoulder injury ended his campaign. He recorded 10.24 K/9 a season ago and is exceeding that high mark in ‘19, punching out 11.25 K/9.
For this bet, you’re definitely going to want to wait up until first pitch to see if the total inflates to 7, since there’s no chance it goes in the opposite direction. That half-run could be the difference but even if there is no movement, the under will still get action from me. Play: UNDER 6.5/7
Yesterday’s Result: Mets-Padres Under 6.5 (WIN)
Zylbert’s 2019 MLB Over/Under Betting Record*: 20-18-1, -0.25 unit
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit
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