Thursday’s MLB Over/Under: Will the Jays and Indians Pour It On?

Big win yesterday to stop to the losing streak, as Blake Snell and Michael Fulmer both delivered delightful outings for our Rays-Tigers Under 8 bet. We obviously can’t be satisfied with just that, however, so let’s continue to get to work.

Zylbert’s 2018 MLB Over/Under Betting Record: 19-11-2, +6.9 units
Yesterday’s Result: Rays-Tigers Under 8, Snell vs. Fulmer (WIN)
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit


Toronto Blue Jays @ Cleveland Indians
7:30ish p.m. ET (starts 30 minutes after first game is complete)
Probable Pitchers: Joe Biagini (0-0, 4.76 ERA) vs. Adam Plutko (0-0, -.– ERA)

Over in the NBA tonight, Toronto and Cleveland will be going at it in Game 2 of their second-round Eastern Conference playoff series. Before the opening tip-off, however, the two cities’ baseball teams were taking part in a unique doubleheader consisting of two makeup games that were both postponed in mid-April.

Today’s over/under play involves the second contest of the twin bill, when Toronto’s Joe Biagini makes his second start of the year opposite Adam Plutko in his first career starting assignment in the big leagues. The volatility of this pitching matchup figures to bring on at least one crooked number in the final score.

Let’s start with the new kid, Plutko, who has appeared in a major-league game twice before, doing so near the end of 2016 with a pair of relief appearances over which he yielded three runs on five hits, two walks and a homer in 3.2 innings. Last year, the right-hander posted an ugly 5.90 ERA and 1.52 WHIP over 22 starts (and two relief appearances) in Triple-A.

This season, Plutko has fared much better with Triple-A Columbus, pitching to a 2.35 ERA and 0.82 WHIP while recording a 25/7 K/BB ratio in his 30.2 innings, but I’m just not buying it, at least at this point in time. The 2013 11th-round draft choice is a four-pitch pitcher who doesn’t throw hard, with his average velocity sitting in the 90-91 mph range. His fly-ball percentage (57.3%) thus far in the minors this season has been troublesome, and that may come into play this evening with the wind blowing out at Progressive Field.

Plus, the plan won’t be designed for him to go deep into the ballgame, and we unfortunately experienced how poor that Indians bullpen can be when it does not have its most important piece, Andrew Miller, who is on the disabled list.

Of course, let’s also factor in the tough offense he’ll be trying to contain. The Blue Jays entered Thursday’s action as one of only four teams in baseball that is averaging more than five runs per game. Yes, Plutko will miss Justin Smoak in this one after the first baseman was placed on the paternity list; but he will have to take on former American League MVP Josh Donaldson, who is returning from injury.

As a team, Toronto is also tied for the third-most long balls with 42 homers. In addition, they average the fewest at-bats per home run (21.9) against right-handed pitching. This won’t be an easy task for Mr. Plutko.

Ditto that for Biagini as he takes on the Indians, though this 27-year-old at least has some experience at the major-league level. As a rookie out of the bullpen in 2016, Biagini was solid, registering a cool 3.06 ERA in 60 appearances and striking out almost a batter per inning. Last year, he got a chance to start, but ultimately proved more effective as a reliever. In 26 relief appearances, he posted a 4.26 ERA and 1.17 WHIP but in his 18 starts, he was 2-12 with a 5.73 ERA and 1.48 WHIP.

Biagini doesn’t look like he’s improved much in his newfound starting role, at least based on his early numbers at Triple-A Buffalo. In three starts, he’s 0-2 with a 5.17 ERA and 1.28 WHIP. Biagini also received one start at the major-league level a little more than two weeks ago, tossing five-plus innings against the Royals and allowing three runs on six hits and three walks, including a homer.

Like Toronto, the Indians can also put it out of the ballpark with efficiency off right-handers. They rank third in that department in at-bats per homer (23.0). They’re simply starting to score more in general, having scored at least four runs in eight straight ballgames entering Thursday. Edwin Encarnacion has finally run hot, going 5-for-10 with three homers in his last two contests, so we’ll look for that to continue.

An over of 10 can be difficult when it’s not emanating from Coors Field, but working with these two hurlers, this looks like a fine total to have action on.

Play: OVER 10 (-110)


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