Atlanta Braves at Chicago Cubs
First pitch: 5:05 p.m. PT
Probable pitchers: Max Fried (8-3, 4.03 ERA) vs. Adbert Azolay (1-0, 2.25 ERA)
Just like in last night’s series opener between these two first-place National League clubs, the over/under once again reveals just how different Wrigley Field — in terms of totals — can be from not just any other stadium in baseball, but any venue in all of sports as well.
Obviously, a matchup featuring Julio Teheran going against Jon Lester would never normally command an over/under as high as 12 but that had everything to do with those notorious Wrigley winds heavily blowing out last night.
The linesmakers have decided to stick with that number for the second meeting in this four-game set, and given this evening’s starting pitchers, I’m willing to bet they’re making a mistake going that high again.
Bias is always possible when it comes to Fried, my No. 1 sleeper entering the season if you’ll recall. Though he’s experienced an inconsistent June, the 25-year-old southpaw is back on the upswing after a solid performance his last time out to nab a victory in his first outing yielding fewer than three runs in almost a month.
That is the version of Fried we saw a lot more times than not in the first third of the campaign, when he notched a dandy 3.19 ERA going into June.
While the Cubs — and strong winds — can certainly be intimidating on any given night, it should be pointed out that Fried has actually been excellent in his history facing the North Siders, albeit in two career assignments. Still, he limited Chicago to just a single run across 11 combined innings while impressively keeping Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Wilson Contreras, Jason Heyward, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber all hitless (0-for-15).
Fried is getting into a rhythm of steadiness again, which is very crucial when dealing with an enormous total. It’s hard to say if that’s what’s on tap from the home side, with Alzolay making his career start in the big leagues.
In fact, this will only be the undrafted rookie’s second appearance at this level. His Major League debut came last Thursday opposite the Mets, whom he held to only one run in four effective innings. The only hit he surrendered was a garbage-time solo home run to Todd Frazier in the ninth.
Alzolay was pitching very well at Triple-A Iowa before coming up, registering a 3.09 ERA in six starts to go with a stunning 46-6 K/BB ratio in 32 total innings. In his aforementioned debut, he showed some of that potential with five strikeouts compared to two walks.
It can absolutely be tricky handicapping someone in their first career start but it looks like Alzolay has displayed the necessary tools to succeed right away. As a bonus, he’ll have some room for error, too, considering the total of 12 we’re dealing with. Play: UNDER 12 (-115)
Yesterday’s Result: Rockies-Giants Under 8 (WIN)
Zylbert’s 2019 MLB Over/Under Betting Record*: 44-38-6, +1.55 units
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit
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