Monday’s MLB Over/Under: Wheeler Takes On Eflin In Game 1 of Twin Bill
Eric Hartline, USA Today Sports
Hard to believe the All-Star break is one week away now. That makes this new week a little more important, as I vie to end my first half as strongly as possible. That starts today.
Zylbert’s 2018 MLB Over/Under Record: 58-38-3, +16.05 units
Yesterday’s Result: Reds-Cubs Under 8.5, Castillo vs. Lester (loss)
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit
Philadelphia Phillies @ New York Mets | O/U: 8
4:10 p.m. ET (MLB Network)
Probable Pitchers: Zach Eflin (7-2, 2.97 ERA) vs. Zack Wheeler (2-6, 4.36 ERA)
Over in the American League, it’s pretty clear that left-hander Blake Snell of the Tampa Bay Rays was easily the biggest All-Star snub. In the National League, Eflin might hold that distinction.
The 24-year-old right-hander has made some serious strides in his third major league season, and the improvements are noticeable. First off, he’s now made 11 starts this year and he’s registered almost twice as many wins (seven) in 2018 alone compared to his first two seasons combined.
Furthermore, Eflin finished with an ERA of at least 5.54 in ’16 and ’17. This year, he’s cut that mark almost in half (2.97). His strikeouts are up significantly (8.91 K/9), his batting average against is sitting at a career-low .231, and he’s also allowing a full home run less per nine innings than he did in his first two seasons.
Harnessing an uptick in velocity, Eflin is a legitimate pitcher, and in the beginning portion of this doubleheader, he draws one of the worst offenses in the league.
Wheeler has pitched at an All-Star level before, although it could be argued that hasn’t been the case since he had Tommy John surgery in 2015. But he has displayed flashes of his early years since coming back, such as a seven-start streak last season in which he yielded three runs or fewer each time out. Wheeler is on a similarly decent run of form lately, notching five quality starts over his last seven assignments.
Wheeler has also amassed 38 Ks across 45 innings within the aforementioned streak, but perhaps most impressive, he was tagged for only two home runs as well. Philadelphia has cracked the fifth-fewest homers on the road in baseball and will have a hard time going deep today.
Pick: UNDER 8 (-110)
Follow me on Twitter @MattZylbert
Editor’s note: The opinion on this game is from the individual writer and is based on his research, analysis and perspective. It is independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.