Sunday’s MLB Over/Under: Expect Low-Scoring to Continue in Nats-Dodgers Finale?
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
I’m still incredibly after last night. Not only did one of my favorite pitchers, Sean Manaea, beat Chris Sale, he threw an improbable no-hitter against baseball’s best team and hottest offense. And to make it even sweeter, we had the under and won with relative ease. If you doubted my belief in Manaea, I hope yesterday changed your opinion on the future ace.
On to Sunday …
Zylbert’s 2018 MLB Over/Under Betting Record: 15-4-2, +10.7 units
Yesterday’s Result: Red Sox-Athletics Under 7.5 (WIN and NO-HITTER)
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit
Washington Nationals at Los Angeles Dodgers | O/U: 8
8:05 p.m. ET | ESPN
Probable Pitchers: Jeremy Hellickson (0-0, 3.86 ERA) vs. Alex Wood (0-2, 3.91 ERA)
I’ve got a rare over wager to hopefully cap off the weekend right. These two teams have struggled to score runs thus far, but remember, those first two games came against supreme pitching — Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw dueled in the opener before Stephen Strasburg took part in the second contest opposite Hyun-Jin Ryu. While you wouldn’t rank Ryu alongside the other three, it was still a difficult spot for a Nationals lineup that has struggled versus left-handed pitching in 2018.
But wait, that’s what they’ll be facing again this evening, so wouldn’t that lead to another lackluster offensive night for Washington?
The answer lies in the pitcher opposing the Nats. Alex Wood (pictured above) is a very respectable starter coming off a terrific All-Star campaign a year ago, but this could prove to be a real challenge for the 27-year-old southpaw. The Nationals are bound to have some positive regression against lefties, considering they had one of baseball’s best averages versus left-handers in 2017 (.275).
Also, consider: Some of Washington’s bats have a notably successful history when facing Wood. Anthony Rendon is 12-for-19 (.632) with a dinger. Bryce Harper has seven hits in 17 at-bats (.412), while fellow everyday regular Michael A. Taylor is 5-for-11 (.455).
Last season, Rendon produced a team-best .337/.448/.683 slash line against left-handed pitching to go with nine homers and nine doubles in just 104 ABs. This season, that line sits at .182/.308/.182, albeit in 11 ABs. It’d be huge for this over bet if he could suit up today (he’s considered day to day at the moment).
Harper, meanwhile, is just 4-for-21 (.190) with a southpaw on the mound in 2018, far off the .311 mark he registered last season. At the same time, he’s displayed optimism for an upward trend, as he already has a pair of long balls in his 21 ABs opposite a left-hander — last year, he had just three in 119 ABs. Lesser role players like Howie Kendrick and Wilmer Difo, who both typically fare better versus lefties, should also see an uptick soon based on their track records.
After a slow start from the Dodgers offense, the lineup has seemingly settled in, having scored six or more runs in six of their past nine games. I expect that to continue as veteran Jeremy Hellickson makes his second start with the Nationals.
In Hellickson’s first outing, the right-hander also known as Hellboy didn’t show much against the Mets, yielding two runs on seven hits and a walk as he failed to escape the fifth inning in the no-decision. It’s a continuation of a lackluster 2017 season: Pitching for the Phillies and Orioles, Hellickson finished 8-11 with career worsts in ERA (5.53), K/9 (5.27) and HR/9 (1.92) despite a helpful .246 batting average on balls put in play.
Additionally, the velocity he displayed in his season debut last Monday (90.2 mph on his fastball) indicates more trouble is ahead for the nine-year veteran. Don’t forget, this is also just Hellickson’s second start of the season, so he’s still trying to build his arm strength. In other words, he’s not in a position to get his maximum pitch speed closer to 91 mph.
And just like the opposing batting order, a trio of Dodgers batters are very comfortable against Hellickson: Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig and Yasmani Grandal have gone a combined 14-for-33 (.424) with three home runs.
Envisioning at least one crooked number on the scoreboard, the over looks like the bet to back in this Sunday Night Baseball affair.
Play: OVER 8 (-110)