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Baltimore Orioles at Chicago White Sox

Over/Under: 8.5

First pitch: 5:10 p.m. PT

Probable pitchers: John Means (3-2, 1.74 ERA) vs. Manny Banuelos (1-0, 2.51 ERA)

If you haven’t heard of either of these two starting pitchers, well, there’s a good chance you’re going to be a lot more familiar with both by season’s end.

Banuelos is a former top prospect who hasn’t quite established himself yet, mostly due to injuries that have limited the 28-year-old to just 40.2 major league innings. He debuted four years ago with the Braves, and while he was solid in flashes, this is his first time back up in the bigs since that stint in Atlanta.

The former Yankee farmhand started the season in the bullpen but received an opportunity for a spot start when Lucas Giolito landed on the sidelines. That first assignment came last week against these same Orioles, whom he blanked in four quality innings.

His pitch count should be higher now that he’s stretched out more and I’ll bank on the lefty to keep it going based on his notable past potential. Plus, it certainly helps if Trey Mancini remains out of the lineup.

Then there is Means, who wasn’t nearly as heralded coming up, being a former 11th round draft pick of the O’s. During last year’s disastrous campaign for the franchise, when many guys were pushed into their major league debuts early, Means was one of the last to go, clocking in with only one relief appearance during the last week of the year.

However, Means looks like the brightest of all of Baltimore’s oncoming youngsters — at least on the pitching front — as he’s blossomed in the season’s first month. He’s been so good that he’s already earned a spot in the pitching rotation, with rookie manager Brandon Hyde even decreeing that he “likes giving John the ball.”

Means has exhibited the potential to sustain at this level, posting a 2.08 ERA in his three starts. Most impressive of all, he’s generating a high swinging-strike rate, clocking in at 15.25 percent according to The Baltimore Sun. That number ranks Means fifth-best among all pitchers with at least 20 innings logged.

Since this over/under has a no shot of going down, I’m going to wait some time before putting the bet in, with there being a real chance of an uptick to 9 coming to fruition. Follow me on Twitter to see when I settle on the number. Play: UNDER 8.5/9

Yesterday’s Result: Reds-Cardinals Under 7.5 (WIN)

Zylbert’s 2019 MLB Over/Under Betting Record*: 16-14-1, +0.1 unit

*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit

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