Sunday’s MLB Over/Under: Welcome Back to the Majors, Frankie Montas

Sunday’s MLB Over/Under: Welcome Back to the Majors, Frankie Montas article feature image

Brad Penner, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Frankie Montas

Despite being muddled in a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the bottom of the ninth of last night’s Reds-Rockies Under 11.5 bet, we still were able to prevail thanks to Reds reliever Jared Hughes. We’re now halfway toward a potential Memorial Day Weekend sweep, so let’s see if I can keep it going Sunday.

Zylbert’s 2018 MLB Over/Under Betting Record: 35-19-2, +13.7 units
Yesterday’s Result: Reds-Rockies Under 11.5, Mahle vs. Anderson (WIN)
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit

Arizona Diamondbacks @ Oakland Athletics | O/U: 8
4:05 p.m. ET
Probable Pitchers: Zack Greinke (3-3, 3.71 ERA) vs. Frankie Montas (0-0, -.–)

You already know about one starting pitcher in this matchup — Greinke, of course — and while he may not be enjoying the usual dominant campaign that we’ve grown accustomed to throughout his 15-year career, the former AL Cy Young Award winner has still exhibited signs that could have him headed in that direction.

For one, Greinke is averaging 9.94 K/9 this season, which would be the best he’s ever recorded if it were to hold up. At the very least, he’ll be in a position to build considerably on his outstanding 67/7 K/BB ratio in this particular assignment, as the A’s rank in the top 10 in strikeouts as a team.

The 34-year-old should also start to see a regression in his home runs allowed, and working from the pitcher-friendly Oakland Coliseum can certainly aid in that cause. He’s currently yielding 1.48 HR/9, his highest-such mark since his rookie season in 2004.

Just as important as anything, though, is Oakland’s struggles at the plate recently without Khris Davis. In the five games since their star slugger went on the disabled list, the Athletics have scored just two runs per contest, and failed to top three runs in all but one of those. Davis is one of the most underrated power hitters in baseball and his absence from the batting order can serve as a cure-all for Greinke in keeping the ball in the yard.

The Diamondbacks have also slumped at the plate lately, with their current rut lasting significantly longer. In fact, Arizona has remarkably plated three runs or fewer in 13 out of their last 16 games, unsurprisingly going 2-14 over that stretch. At this point, it’s hard to argue that guys aren’t pressing, especially considering the strong start the club got out to in April.

That can help young Frankie Montas in his third career major league start and first outing of the year. This is someone that stood out to me when he received his first pair of starting assignments three years ago with the White Sox, and while he’s still considered raw, I believe he’s advanced enough to the point where he can begin contributing consistently to a major league rotation. While this is being tabbed as more of a spot start, that can help put Montas at ease in a favorable spot versus an offense that’s just really struggling right now.

We may be catching the 25-year-old righty at the right time, too, as he’s been trending up based on his most recent work at Triple-A Nashville. In each of his last four starts there, he pitched into the sixth inning or deeper in all, while surrendering two runs or fewer in three of them. One of those was a 10-strikeout effort, and that can be the key to propelling Montas to success. He’s been sitting in the 95-97 mph range and has good stuff, and with the D-backs ranking fourth in strikeouts per game (9.57) as a team, the opportunity will be there for Montas to accumulate some punch-outs. All in all, it’s a solid under bet at 8.

Play: UNDER 8 (-110)