MLB Over/Under Bet: Verlander squares off against MLB’s top bullpen

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ALDS Game 4

Houston Astros at Tampa Bay Rays

Over/Under: 7.5

First pitch: 4:07 p.m. PT

TV: FS1

Probable pitchers: Justin Verlander (21-6, 2.58 ERA) vs. Diego Castillo (5-8, 3.41 ERA)

The Rays couldn’t beat Verlander with their best starter, Tyler Glasnow, in Game 1. This time around, they’ll throw their entire bullpen battalion at him, which could help to maintain another low-scoring contest opposite the AL Cy Young candidate.

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In the opener of this ALDS, the over actually hit, albeit barely by a half-run (and needed some bad defense to even do that), as the final score was 6-2. That was no thanks to Verlander, who once again excelled in a date with the Rays.

Everyone is already aware of his outstanding regular season that has him (with teammate Gerrit Cole) among the two front runners for this year’s Cy Young hardware. I’ll spare you that and just highlight his terrific work against Tampa Bay throughout his Cooperstown-bound career. In 20 career meetings, he’s 10-4 with a 3.17 ERA, including a 6-3 mark and 2.87 ERA at Tropicana Field.

This year, including this past Friday’s Game 1, Verlander won all three assignments opposite the Rays, yielding only a single run total across 19.1 innings pitched. He permitted only 12 base runners as well and racked up 21 strikeouts compared to only four walks.

Considering how he even said he wanted to take the ball in this important spot, it looks like a pretty good idea to lean on the former Detroit Tiger to come through.

But can the talented Rays bullpen keep up? Well, assuming Verlander crafts his usual dominant outing, the beauty of this bet is that they don’t necessarily have to.

In other words, bettors have the opportunity to lean on Tampa’s league-best relief core while having room for error. The Rays led baseball in bullpen ERA (3.67), and their .231 batting average against ranked second-best in the AL — behind only, interestingly, the Astros.

Tampa Bay has still pulled off the concept of the “bullpen game” well even after trading the original “opener” Ryne Stanek. Castillo gets those honors in this one and brings the potential to start the game out right for those on the under.

He’s only going one or two innings but that’s perfectly fine given the strong depth behind him. Brendan McKay, in particular, is capable of eating up some middle innings effectively. Additionally, Chaz Roe, Nick Anderson and Emilio Pagan have provided steady and stellar work.

Also, don’t forget the Rays could ultimately bring in Glasnow as well at some point, which would definitely be welcomed here. The electrifying 26-year-old has experience in a relief role, too, so it eliminates that variable of putting him in a spot out of the ordinary. Play: UNDER 7.5 (-110)

Yesterday’s Result: Yankees-Twins Under 9 (WIN)

2019 MLB Over/Under Betting Record*

Regular Season: 89-78-12, +1.05 units

Playoffs: 6-1, +2.5 units

*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit (playoffs 0.5 unit)

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