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Cleveland Indians at Houston Astros

Over/Under: 7.5

First pitch: 5:05 p.m. PT

Probable pitchers: Trevor Bauer (2-1, 2.20 ERA) vs. Gerrit Cole (1-3, 5.22 ERA)

It’s not often there’s a genuine personal rivalry between two major league players but that’s indeed the case with this pair of former UCLA Bruin teammates. And that’s outside the fact that both were taken in the top three in the 2011 Draft.

In Bauer’s words: “We had a rocky relationship in college, because he told me I have no future in baseball, and he insulted my work ethic. Those are two things I don’t take kindly to.”

In other words, there pretty much can’t be any more motivation for the eighth-year right-hander, who is out to another stellar start in 2019 in looking like a bonafide American League Cy Young Award contender once again. This will actually be his second time matched up against Cole and he fared well in that outing a year ago.

Bauer also has a history with the Astros as a team, trading barbs with certain players on social media. Question it all you want but Bauer has brought his ‘A’ game whenever he’s squared off with Houston. He’s faced them eight times in his career and literally sports a flawless record, being 7-0 with a nice 3.18 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. Additionally, Bauer also compiled a whopping 68 strikeouts compared to 18 walks in those meetings, spanning 51 innings pitched.

Meanwhile, following a solid beginning to the campaign of his own, Cole is suddenly looking to bounce back after arguably the worst start of his career, when the Rangers got to him in Arlington for nine runs (eight earned) in just 4.1 innings last Saturday.

Cole addressed the issues he had in that start, which he believed were related to tipping pitches, and I think he can be depended upon as a result to get back closer to form for this next turn. In his assignment against Bauer and the Indians last season, Cole churned out a quality start as well.

Since there’s a real possibility this series opener could wind up 5-3, I’m taking a bit of a risk and waiting to see if the line ticks up to 8. However, there’s also a chance it goes down to 7, so make sure you follow me on Twitter to see when I settle on the number. Play: UNDER 7.5/8

Yesterday’s Result: Dodgers-Cubs Under 8 (loss)

Zylbert’s 2019 MLB Over/Under Betting Record*: 14-13, -0.7 unit

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

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