Friday’s MLB Over/Under: Musgrove and Lauer Battle At Petco Park

Friday’s MLB Over/Under: Musgrove and Lauer Battle At Petco Park article feature image

Kiel Maddox, USA Today Sports

Michael Fulmer delivered the goods in his start against the A’s yesterday, but we’re moving on. Friday is a new day and we’ll be up late, as I’m targeting a pitching matchup out west that provides value.

2018 MLB Over/Under Betting Record: 55-32-2, +19.5 units
Yesterday’s Result: Athletics-Tigers Under 9, Manaea vs. Fulmer (WIN)
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit

Pittsburgh Pirates @ San Diego Padres | O/U: 7.5
10:10 p.m. ET
Probable Pitchers: Joe Musgrove (2-3, 4.59 ERA) vs. Eric Lauer (3-4, 5.05 ERA)

OK, this is one of the most annoying totals I’ve dealt with due to the Padres’ lengthy delay in settling on a starting pitcher for tonight’s affair, but I’m sold anyway on this under for a variety of reasons.

One, this series opener between the Pirates and Padres is serving as a homecoming of sorts for Joe Musgrove, who — other than a one-inning “start” in the 2016 All-Star Futures Game — will be taking on his first career assignment right around the city where he grew up (El Cajon). In fact, he used to attend Padres games as a kid.

Although the 25-year-old has been sluggish in his last two starts, Musgrove is bound to get back in a rhythm. In this particular spot, with many friends and family in attendance, I think that this is indeed what will happen.

Besides, he had to labor in his most recent outing after facing Arizona for the second time in less than two weeks, which can be difficult. And in the start before that, in hitter-friendly Cincinnati, he was following up a rough ending (thanks to manager Clint Hurdle ordering him to hit the leadoff man in a late inning, which opened up the floodgates) in his prior instance toeing the rubber.

Overall, Musgrove has displayed much of the promise the Buccos thought they were acquiring when they traded away Gerrit Cole. He’s capable of handling San Diego’s not-so-intimidating batting order in a start that will be very personal.

As for the Padres, they’re going with another youngster in this matchup, 23-year-old southpaw Eric Lauer, who, unlike his counterpart, has been in a nice groove as of late.

Lauer did face the Pirates once earlier this year and didn’t fare too well, allowing four runs and failing to escape the fifth inning. But the 2016 first-round draft pick seems to have put it together lately, amassing a 3.25 ERA in his seven starts since.

A big reason for that, other than the obvious that Lauer is getting used to life as a major league starter, could be the extra ticks on his fastball. Lauer’s average velocity has been sitting at 91-92 mph during his five June starts, a marked improvement from the 89-90 mph range he was showing off in May. In other words, he’s settling in and beginning to harness his high potential.

So we have one guy returning home for an emotional night at the office, capable of turning in a useful performance, and another who has been trending up considerably in his freshman campaign. I’m going with the under as a result.

Play: UNDER 7.5 (-110)