Saturday’s MLB Over/Under: Verlander, Price Lock Horns in Houston

Saturday’s MLB Over/Under: Verlander, Price Lock Horns in Houston article feature image
Credit:

Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA Today Sports

Last night’s over/under victory pushed our winning streak to eight (which ties our season-high) and it also moved my record to 6-1 in games involving Pittsburgh’s Jameson Taillon. Let’s just keep it going, shall we?

Zylbert’s 2018 MLB Over/Under Betting Record: 41-19-2, +19.7 units
Yesterday’s Result: Pirates-Cardinals Under 8, Taillon vs. Mikolas (WIN)
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit


Boston Red Sox @ Houston Astros | O/U: 7.5
7:15 p.m. ET (FOX)
Probable Pitchers: David Price (5-4, 4.04 ERA) vs. Justin Verlander (7-2, 1.11 ERA)

There was a premier pitching matchup in the second meeting of this four-game set last night between American League juggernauts, the Red Sox and Astros, with Chris Sale pitted against Gerrit Cole, only to see the over (7) prevail by a decisive margin. For game No. 3, there’s another star-studded showdown on tap, but in this instance, don’t expect a similar outcome to last night’s affair regarding the over/under.

In fact, it has to be extremely difficult right now to cash any over when it involves Justin Verlander, who looks like the current frontrunner to start for the AL in this year’s All-Star Game in a little over a month. After all, he’s seen the under emerge victorious a whopping 10 times already in his 12 starts — including seven straight entering tonight — and he leads the majors in ERA (1.11), WHIP (0.71), batting average against (.153) and opponents’ on-base percentage (.205). Just think about that last stat for a second: Opposing batters are simply only reaching base when Verlander is on the hill barely more than 20% of the time!

The former AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner has also produced a very healthy 98/15 K/BB ratio in his 81.1 innings of work. If he’s not recording a punch-out, Verlander is at least basically always keeping the ball in the yard, as he’s surrendered a mere five homers for the campaign. That can be very useful when dealing with a Boston batting order that has cranked out the third-most long balls (84) in the bigs.

Speaking of that Red Sox lineup, they’re without leading AL MVP candidate Mookie Betts, who was just placed on the disabled list, which is huge. Dustin Pedroia also just returned to the DL, so their dangerous offense is down a couple of very critical pieces right before having to deal with one of the league’s best pitchers who has been absolutely cruising. All you have to do is look at his past seven outings, in which Verlander has allowed no more than one earned run! For the year, he’s yielded two runs or more in a start only three times — and never allowing more than three. Yeah, he’s kind of a good starting point to build an under around.

Squaring off with the former Tigers ace is a daunting task but it’s one that can be handled by a battle-tested veteran like David Price, Verlander’s former teammate in Detroit from 2014-15. And just like his ex-teammate, the fellow former AL Cy Young Award winner also is entering this evening’s assignment in a nice groove.

In his last four outings, Price has given up two earned runs or fewer each time out, going 3-0 with a 2.49 ERA over that span. That’s notable because he hasn’t experienced such a lengthy stretch since late in the 2016 season. Even aside from that, Price has to be feeling good, since that followed a two-start mess where he was touched for 15 runs (12 earned) across only nine innings.

Given his pricey contract and that he pitches for Boston, you know the boo-birds were starting to form in bunches again, but since he’s back on track now, the sometimes sensitive Price can relax again and pitch with comfort. That’s typically when the 32-year-old is displaying his best consistency. Overall, he’s been perfectly fine this season anyway, as opponents have mustered only a .230 batting average in his 11 starts.

Yes, Houston has put up good numbers versus southpaws but I still think Price can chime in with something useful here while he’s in his current groove. We’ll take that along with Verlander’s usual masterful work, and with both of these bullpens each ranking in the top five in baseball in ERA, it looks like there’s enough here to pace an under.

As for the line, with the over being considerably more juiced, you should try and wait to see if the total slides up to 8, which would be quite significant here. Even if that doesn’t happen, I’m still going with the under as my over/under play for Saturday.

Play: UNDER 7.5/8

Follow me on Twitter @MattZylbert

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