Tuesday’s MLB Over/Under: Will Velasquez and Ray Turn the Lights Out in Philadelphia?

Tuesday’s MLB Over/Under: Will Velasquez and Ray Turn the Lights Out in Philadelphia? article feature image

It was smooth sailing in our Indians-Orioles Under 8 win last night, as Carlos “Cookie” Carrasco and Kevin Gausman pitched us through the game with relative ease. Let’s try to get another winning streak developing through Tuesday.

Zylbert’s 2018  MLB Over/Under Betting Record: 16-5-2, +10.6 units
Yesterday’s Result: Indians-Orioles Under 8, Carrasco vs. Gausman (WIN)
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit

Arizona Diamondbacks @ Philadelphia Phillies | O/U: 7.5
7:05 p.m. ET
Probable Pitchers: Robbie Ray (2-0, 4.98 ERA) vs. Vince Velasquez (1-2, 3.80 ERA)

The first thing to note about tonight’s bet is that there is rain in the forecast later on in the evening, though that may not arrive until the very end of the contest, which could also add to the sense of urgency for both pitchers.

Arizona’s Robbie Ray is a noted strikeout artist and led the National League with a 12.11 K/9 mark last season and collected the third-most Ks (218) among NL pitchers in just 162 total innings. That tendency has been very prevalent in his fifth major league season thus far, as he once again is at the top of the leaderboard with 13.29 K/9 with 32 punch outs in 21.1 innings of work. He’ll be in quite an advantageous spot here as a result, as the Phillies are known to be free swingers. The Phils are tied for the fourth-most Ks (211) in the league, striking out once every 3.32 at-bats.

The 26-year-old currently owns a 4.98 ERA and 1.52 WHIP on the year but don’t expect that to continue. Opponents have hit just .232 off Ray, and that’s even despite a .311 average on balls put in play (BABIP). He’s also had a problem keeping the ball in the yard but the Phillies have only five as a team in their 130 ABs opposite left-handed pitching.

Before Ray arrived on the scene as an upper echelon strikeout pitcher, many thought his counterpart for tonight, Vince Velasquez, would turn into a dominant pitcher. However, injuries have slowed the former Houston Astros second-round draft pick down. The good news is that early returns from his four outings thus far indicate he might finally be on a breakout path.

First off, Velasquez is striking out more than a batter per inning again, something he hasn’t done since making a career-high 24 starts a couple of years ago. That especially applies to tonight’s effort, as much like the Phillies, the D-backs are also in the top 10 in baseball in team strikeouts with 204.

It’s always important to observe if a guy is in a rhythm and that appears to be the case with Velasquez, who, after a rough showing in his season debut on March 31 in Atlanta, has turned in three quality starts, striking out at least six in each of them. Arguably the most important thing to note with his stat line is that the walks have been significantly down, issuing just five free passes in his 21.1 total innings which is a great sign since Velasquez has always averaged at least 3.0 BB/9 in each of his seasons in the big leagues.

The velocity has certainly been there, as his average fastball of 95 mph is his highest since his rookie year of 2015. The sinker is also coming along with more bite, so it does indeed look like Velasquez is harnessing his talents more. He figures to also get a boost from the absence of 2017 All-Star Jake Lamb (elbow) in Arizona’s batting order.

It’s unfortunate that there’s a weather factor in play here to worry about. But if mother nature can just keep calm for a few hours, the starting pitchers should take care of the rest in delivering an under triumph.

Play: UNDER 7.5 (-110)

Photo: Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Vince Velasquez. Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports