Tampa Bay Rays at San Diego Padres
First pitch: 7:10 p.m. PT
TV: MLB Network
Probable pitchers: Diego Castillo (2-6, 3.50 ERA) vs. Joey Lucchesi (7-6, 4.19 ERA)
Somewhat amazingly, this is only the Rays’ second-ever visit in franchise history to Petco Park — which opened up in 2004, the year the then-Devil Rays first traveled to the pitcher-friendly venue in San Diego.
In tonight’s series opener, Tampa Bay, the innovator of the “opener,” will be rolling with this strategy when Castillo takes the mound. This will be his third career “start” (and third of the season), and while he’s only gone exactly one inning in each of the prior two assignments, it’s still a nice way to begin the ballgame if Castillo continues to hold the opponent scoreless.
Hitters are 1-for-7 off the right-hander in the two aforementioned outings and overall, Castillo’s having a pretty nice year despite his 2-6 record, pitching to a respectable 3.50 ERA and logging 49 strikeouts in 43.2 total innings.
Austin Pruitt is expected to serve as the “primary” pitcher and while the 29-year-old doesn’t have the greatest track record in the big leagues, he can still be useful here if his most recent work is any indication. Pruitt was recalled to the majors a week ago and has since notched a pair of shutout frames; this after the third-year righty registered three straight scoreless appearances at Triple-A Durham prior to being called up.
The bulk of this bet, however, will probably need to be carried by Lucchesi. That’s usually a fine proposition to lean on, especially when the southpaw is working from home.
Since first debuting with the Padres last season, Lucchesi has been significantly more effective at Petco (3.39 in 28 starts) compared to on the road (5.21 ERA in 20 starts). It’s a trend that has been very prevalent in his game this season, as Lucchesi owns a 2.71 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in his 12 home starts, with opposing batters mustering only a minuscule .186 average in those outings.
The matchup itself enhances Lucchesi’s outlook to continue his strong pitching in San Diego. No team in baseball has struck out more times against left-handed pitching than the Rays, who are retired via the K at an unhealthy rate of once every 3.44 at-bats. Their offense also ranks 19th in team OPS (.744) with a lefty on the hill. Play: UNDER 8.5 (-115)
Yesterday’s Result: Rangers-Brewers Under 9 (WIN)
Zylbert’s 2019 MLB Over/Under Betting Record*: 66-57-9, +2.15 units
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit