Wednesday’s MLB Over/Under: Will Outburst of Runs Continue in Royals-Orioles?
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
OK, just an incorrect call in last night’s Pirates-White Sox Under 9 play, as I may have been pressing a bit too much with Lucas Giolito involved. Either way, not how I wanted to start off this week, so let’s just get to Wednesday’s slate.
Zylbert’s 2018 MLB Over/Under Betting Record: 23-13-2, +8.6 units
Yesterday’s Result: Pirates-White Sox Under 9, Nova vs. Giolito (loss)
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit
Kansas City Royals @ Baltimore Orioles | O/U: 10
7:05 p.m. ET
Probable Pitchers: Eric Skoglund (1-2, 6.84 ERA) vs. Andrew Cashner (1-4, 4.89 ERA)
Are the oddsmakers overreacting to last night’s scoring outburst by saddling this middle contest of a three-game set with an over/under line of 10? That remains to be seen. Last night, of course, saw the Royals win the series-opener, 15-7, scoring 10 of those runs in the top-half of the first inning, meaning the over hit before the home team came up to bat.
In any event, I’m going to be a bit bold here and go after the under anyway, with the thinking that this is a pitching matchup that can at least churn out one desirable outing, consisting of two guys more than capable of getting their seasons on track.
Let’s start with the more unknown commodity, Eric Skoglund (pictured above), who will make his 11th career start. Admittedly, his stats haven’t been pretty overall since he debuted a year ago, but the talent is there. It was certainly on display when Skoglund recently enjoyed his best performance in the majors, when he hurled seven innings of one-run ball to go with nine strikeouts against the White Sox en route to picking up his second career victory.
Skoglund had some trouble his last time out, but the 2014 third-round pick can have some success against these Orioles. After all, only three teams in baseball strike out more than Baltimore, which is averaging 9.69 Ks per game at the dish.
Although his ERA (6.84) and WHIP (1.41) are uncomfortably high, Skoglund possesses a healthy 8.54 K/9 mark, compared to only nine walks. This is probably no mirage, as Skoglund strung together 9.12 K/9 in his 19 starts last year at Triple-A Omaha. Baltimore, meanwhile, strikes out once every 3.5 at-bats when a lefty is on the hill.
Clearly, the Orioles are reeling right now, having lost seven in a row and 19 of 22 to give them the worst record in all of Major League Baseball. Not only that, their lineup has produced the fewest runs in the American League, and they have the second-lowest OPS (.662) in all of MLB. Team morale has to be low, especially after last night’s beat-down, and that can play into the hand of Skoglund.
Fortunately, as it concerns this under bet, we’ll also be dealing with another offense that doesn’t put up a whole lot of runs, as Kansas City is tied for 25th in MLB in scoring. That’s good news for Andrew Cashner, who we’ll thankfully be getting in his home digs this evening, as he has produced some of the most extreme home-and-road splits you’ll see from a starting pitcher.
In 70 career starts at home (and 35 relief appearances), Cashner has a cool 2.98 ERA over 471.2 innings. On the road, where he’s logged 74 career starts (and 48 relief appearances), his ERA shoots up significantly to 4.73. You’ll be hard-pressed to find another pitcher who features that significant of a difference in his home/road stats, and Cashner has exhibited this tendency over a lengthy nine-year big-league run.
Before you point out that the bulk of Cashner’s career was spent in pitcher-friendly San Diego, and that his ERA at Camden Yards this year is actually higher thus far compared to that of his road outings, just take a look at last year during the 31-year-old’s lone campaign with the Rangers. Of course, Texas has one of the more hitter-friendly environments in the game, yet Cashner still came away with a nifty 2.72 ERA, easily besting his 4.07 ERA on the road. Overall, the former first-round draft pick has ended up with a better ERA at home in seven of his previous eight seasons.
Another encouraging item to note from Cashner’s 2018 season: He’s currently averaging 8.61 K/9. This is notable because Cashner has never had such a high mark since becoming a full-time starter in 2013, and that ability will be extra useful tonight in trying to tame a Royals lineup that has struck out less often than any other team in the early going.
It may be a stressful under after the type of affair these two clubs put on in last night’s opener, but I believe this starting pitching matchup can bring about the opposite result.
Play: UNDER 10 (-110)