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New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays

Over/Under: 8.5

First pitch: 4:10 p.m. PT

TV: MLB Network

Probable pitchers: Masahiro Tanaka (5-5, 3.74 ERA) vs. Brendan McKay (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

When a starter is coming off literally the worst start of his career, you can try and tap into said pitcher’s psychology entering his next turn if the track record calls for it. In this case, it looks like a good idea concerning Tanaka.

The 30-year-old’s last outing was easily the shortest of his career, as he managed to retire only two batters. When all was said and done, Tanaka wound up with six runs charged to his name in less than an inning of work.

To be fair, this particular assignment emanated from London, an unusual variable for any hurler. But in any event, Tanaka is known to bounce back right away from a tough day at the office.

Last weekend’s start represented the 24th time Tanaka allowed at least five earned runs. For the ensuing outing in the previous 22 instances (one happened in his last appearance of the season, so he couldn’t follow that up), the Japanese right-hander was typically very good. In fact, he posted a cool 3.54 ERA and1.16 WHIP alongside an impressive 146-30 K/BB ratio in 132.1 total innings. So, it’s safe to conclude Tanaka, who is usually a solid big-game pitcher, locks back in entering these spots.

Helping matters considerably is that Tanaka has had great success with this opponent in his five seasons in the big leagues. He’s 10-4 in 17 career starts against the Rays while registering a 3.06 ERA and an outstanding 0.91 WHIP. He’s been especially sharp opposite Tampa Bay this year, yielding only a single run (0.41 ERA) and 11 baserunners (0.50 WHIP) in three meetings.

Tanaka will take on a rookie making his second career start. If it’s anything like the first, this kid McKay — who is a two-way player, remember — could be ascending to something special.

In his Major League debut, McKay stifled a quality Texas Rangers lineup, limiting them to just a single hit and two baserunners (one hit, one walk). He only struck out three but the K’s will come in time, at least based on how he was striking out more than a batter per inning at each level of the minor leagues.

He gets another tough challenge in the rival Yankees, who boast as potent a lineup as there is in the game, but McKay looks like he’s going in the right direction out of the gate and I think he can hang in there enough to help support this bet.

Follow me on Twitter to see when I place my under wager. I highly recommend waiting like I am to see if the total ticks up to 9, which there’s a fine shot of happening. Play: UNDER 8.5

Yesterday’s Result: Tigers-White Sox Under 9.5 (loss)

Zylbert’s 2019 MLB Over/Under Betting Record*: 50-41-7, +4.05 units

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

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