Cincinnati Reds at Washington Nationals
First pitch: 1:05 p.m. PT
TV: MLB Network
Probable pitchers: Trevor Bauer (10-8, 3.74 ERA) vs. Stephen Strasburg (14-5, 3.72 ERA)
Really? An over/under as high as 9 for this premium pitching matchup consisting of a pair of elite strikeout artists? And in a National League park, no less.
It’s certainly a questionable call on the part of the linesmakers, apparently not giving enough respect to both Bauer and Strasburg — two proven ace-caliber pitchers who are also probably potential Cy Young Award winners in the future.
While both are typically very steady when their turn in the rotation comes up, there might be a bit more variables surrounding Bauer, considering this is just his third start with his new club.
Then again, after an unspectacular first outing with the Reds, Bauer showed off in his last outing why the team was willing to give up so much in order to acquire his services. In his home debut in Cincinnati last Friday (an under bet we won), Bauer was simply terrific, clocking in with seven sharp innings of one-run ball while notching 11 K’s against a tough Chicago Cubs lineup.
While this will be a road outing for Bauer, today’s assignment should also come with the same “big-game” feel when he squared off with Yu Darvish for his last go-around. When the right-hander is comfortable like he apparently is now (considering his last performance), he’s reliable to lean on.
Bauer is tied for 13th among qualified starters in baseball in strikeout rate with 10.69 K/9, a ranking also shared with his counterpart, Strasburg. The former No. 1 overall draft pick has always had a penchant for picking up strikeouts and this is just the latest season in which he’s punching out more than 10 batters every nine innings.
Strasburg recently churned out his worst outing of the season, when the Arizona Diamondbacks blasted him for a career-high-tying nine runs, but just like Bauer, bounced back nicely his last time out. The result was a quality start opposite the New York Mets, and even before that meeting with the D-backs, Strasburg had enjoyed a superb five-start stretch where he allowed only four total runs.
Additionally, the outside conditions can also be considered in a Strasburg game. The 10-year vet will be at home and working during the day, which are favorable settings for Strasburg. He’s been a little bit better at Nationals Park than on the road throughout his career, as well as in the daytime compared to at night.
That latter trend has been more extreme this year, with Strasburg’s 2.58 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and .202 batting average against in afternoon starts easily besting the 4.60 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and .234 BAA he’s registered under dark skies. Play: UNDER 9 (-120)
Yesterday’s Result: Diamondbacks-Rockies Under 12 (No Action; pitcher change)
Zylbert’s 2019 MLB Over/Under Betting Record*: 66-58-9, +1 unit
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit