Friday’s MLB Over/Under: Jacob deGrom Faces Rays’ Bullpen Battalion

Friday’s MLB Over/Under: Jacob deGrom Faces Rays’ Bullpen Battalion article feature image

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Pictured: Jacob deGrom.

Well, that may be the last time I can trust Bruce Bochy when he declares one of his starting pitchers ready to return from injury, as Johnny Cueto did not look right out of the gate in his first start back from the disabled list. Oh well, we’ll try to fix that with a nice showing this weekend, beginning tonight.

Zylbert’s 2018 MLB Over/Under Betting Record: 57-37-2, +16.15 units

Yesterday’s Result: Cardinals-Giants Under 7.5, Weaver vs. Cueto (loss)

*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit

Tampa Bay Rays @ New York Mets | Over/under: 7

7:10 p.m. ET

Probable Pitchers: Ryne Stanek (1-2, 1.98 ERA) vs. Jacob deGrom (5-4, 1.84 ERA)

For just the second time in franchise history, the Rays will be traveling to Citi Field as they prepare for a three-game series with the Mets in Flushing, beginning Friday evening.

Right away, you’ll note a marquee name is set to toe the rubber in the series opener, with deGrom slated to make his 18th start of the campaign. Despite picking up only five wins halfway into the season, the 30-year-old has actually been one of the game’s best pitchers, as evidenced by the fact that he leads all MLB starters in ERA (1.84). Furthermore, he also ranks in the top five in the National League in WHIP (1.02), batting average against (.208) and K/9 (11.24).

The likely NL All-Star will also be working from home tonight, which is significant considering his home-and-road splits throughout his five-year career. In fact, while he’s generally pitched well everywhere, deGrom is actually more than a full run better at Citi Field (2.28 ERA) than he is away from home (3.36 ERA).

Something else that may help ensure a typical outing from deGrom in this one is that he’s actually allowed at least three earned runs in back-to-back starts — only in two other instances in deGrom’s time in the big leagues has this happened in three consecutive outings, and the Rays are unlikely to crack that number considering they rank third-to-last in the AL in runs scored and home runs.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Tampa Bay is third in the league in bullpen ERA (3.44), a number we’ll be leaning on especially tonight as they prepare to deploy their now-infamous bullpen game strategy. It’s actually worked like a charm, as ever since May 19 — when they first began using this — the Rays have produced the best ERA in the majors (2.81).

Even better, we’ll also be backing their most successful “opener” in Stanek, who has actually made more “starts” than anyone else in that stingy bullpen with nine. In other words, he’s the most prepared for these types of assignments, and it shows in his 1.42 ERA when opening up a ballgame. Not only that, opponents are hitting just 5-for-43 (.116) against the 2013 first-round pick in such starts.

Yes, Stanek doesn’t go more than two innings, but we can presume that after a day off, Kevin Cash will have all hands on deck out of his bullpen to help stymie a Mets club that owns the third-worst team batting average and fourth-fewest runs in all of baseball. Couple that with deGrom’s usual home cooking, and it figures to be a low-scoring series opener in New York.

Play: under 7 (-120)

Follow me on Twitter @MattZylbert