Friday’s MLB Over/Under: Can Stroman Keep Trending Up and Lead the Way?

Friday’s MLB Over/Under: Can Stroman Keep Trending Up and Lead the Way? article feature image

Gerry Angus-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Marcus Stroman.

When you do this job and grind for 180-ish consecutive days (minus the All-Star break), you’re bound to at least make one bad call. And that looked like the case in last night’s Mets-Pirates under 8.5 wager that fell in defeat early on.

It’s the weekend now, though, and since it’s the final one in July, I plan on ending the month in style, starting with tonight.

Zylbert’s 2018 MLB Over/Under Betting Record: 67-43-3, +19.55 units

Yesterday’s Result: Mets-Pirates under 8.5, Matz vs. Kingham (loss)

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

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Toronto Blue Jays at Chicago White Sox | O/U: 9

8:10 p.m. ET

Probable Pitchers: Marcus Stroman (3-7, 5.42 ERA) vs. Reynaldo Lopez (4-8, 4.13 ERA)

The Blue Jays and White Sox begin a series at Guaranteed Rate Field with the first of three Friday evening, and I’m certain at least one starting pitcher here can come through with a nice outing to help spark a victory for the under.

That would be Stroman, Toronto’s fifth-year right-hander who has been mired in the most difficult campaign of his career. In fact, the 27-year-old currently owns career-worst marks in ERA (5.42), WHIP (1.45) and batting average against (.274) while being on pace for a career low in wins and career high in losses.

So, why in the world should we trust Stroman in this particular spot? One, he finally appears to be settling in following a troubling start to his season, reducing his ERA by more than two full runs over his last six starts. In five of those outings, Stroman yielded three earned runs or fewer, and in two of his past three trips to the mound, the 2012 first-round pick tossed seven innings of one-run ball — both performances that resulted in wins.

Interestingly, the root of Stroman’s problems could hinge on the number of free passes he’s been issuing, as he’s averaged 3.45 BB/9, decisively the worst such mark of his career. Well, fortunately for the Long Island product, he’s about to take on the club that has drawn the second-fewest walks in all of baseball, as the White Sox are tied for the third-lowest on-base percentage (.301) as well. Furthermore, they’ve scored the fourth-fewest runs in the American League.

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All that considered, I believe Stroman can continue his clear upswing as of late. Remember, this is a guy who is as emotional and animated as they get on the hill; sensing a momentum boost from him lately, I’m confident he will give his all to keep it going — especially since it’s possible this might be his final start in a Blue Jays uniform.

And then we have Lopez, who has achieved more success this year than that unflattering 4-8 record suggests. After all, in his defense, he’s tied with Max Scherzer and Michael Fulmer for the second-most winless starts in baseball with at least seven innings pitched and no more than two runs allowed, notching four such instances (Jacob deGrom unsurprisingly has the most with seven).

Lopez didn’t look so hot in his first start out of the All-Star break, being tagged for five runs in five innings in Seattle, but there’s reason to believe he can bounce back in this one. First off, he’ll be working from Chicago tonight, which is key given his home and road splits this season.

Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Reynaldo Lopez.

In fact, he’s strung together a very desirable 3.17 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and .209 BAA in eight home starts. Contrast that to the 4.95 ERA, 1.60 WHIP and .275 BAA Lopez has registered in 12 outings away from Guaranteed Rate Field.

Let’s also recall that Lopez just became a father for the first time less than two weeks ago. Apparently, this has affected the 24-year-old’s performance, having surrendered five runs in each of his last two starts since. That’s actually the first time he’s ever done that in back-to-back starts. Now that the All-Star break is over, Lopez can keep easing back into the swing of things while putting more focus back on his pitching. Starting at home here figures to aid that cause.

At the end of the day, it’s a matchup between two starting hurlers capable of delivering a shutdown outing. As long as one comes through in that regard, we’ll be in good shape as it concerns this under.

Play: Under 9 (-115)