Tuesday’s MLB Over/Under: Will the Bats Stay Quiet In Royals vs. Cubs?

Tuesday’s MLB Over/Under: Will the Bats Stay Quiet In Royals vs. Cubs? article feature image

Andy Marlin, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Brad Keller.

Betting odds: Chicago Cubs at Kansas City Royals

  • Over/Under: 8.5
  • First Pitch: 8:15 p.m. ET
  • Probable Pitchers: Mike Montgomery (3-4, 3.90 ERA) vs. Brad Keller (4-4, 3.39 ERA)

Zylbert’s 2018 MLB Over/Under Betting Record: 74-47-3, +21.9 units

Yesterday’s Result: Phillies-Diamondbacks Under 8.5, Arrieta vs. Godley (WIN)

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

>> Follow Matt Zylbert in The Action Network App to get free alerts on all his MLB bets during the season.

Even after sustaining a broken nose in a softball doubleheader Sunday evening, I still managed to move our winning streak to four games after last night’s Phillies-Diamondbacks Under 8.5 cashed relatively easily despite it stretching 14 innings.

Tonight’s over/under bet might require at least a little more sweating, however, when the Cubs and Royals get together for the second time in this three-game interleague set. That might be the common perception when rookie Brad Keller is on the bump, but the 23-year-old has actually been fairly impressive if you’ve been tracking along.

Keller began the year in the Royals’ bullpen before receiving an opportunity to start at the very end of May. He hasn’t looked back since, posting a 3.39 ERA in 11 starts.

He’s not racking up a lot of K’s, with just 54 punch-outs in 82.1 innings pitched, but he is generating the right type of contact. When opponents have put the ball in play, Keller has drawn a 55.0% ground-ball and 23.3% fly-ball rate, which are both numbers you’ll take when you’re not missing a lot of bats.

Additionally, Keller has surrendered just two long balls across the 60 innings he’s logged as a starter. His K/9 mark while starting (6.2) is also higher than when he was pitching in relief (5.2), and the encouraging thing about that is he’s trending up with K’s. Keller’s first two outings with more than six strikeouts have come within his last three starts, including his most recent one.

Like his counterpart in this one, Mike Montgomery also got a chance in the big-league rotation after the first several weeks of the campaign and has remained there thanks to some solid work.

Montgomery has always preferred being a starter and his splits between the pitching staff and bullpen are very revealing of that. In fact, as a reliever, the 29-year-old southpaw put up an underwhelming 5.33 ERA but since joining the rotation, Montgomery owns a 3.36 ERA in 12 starts.

Can the former Royals farmhand keep it going through at least one more assignment? Well, there’s one main key in this affair, as Montgomery will be facing the team that drafted him. He even acknowledged the motivation, saying: “A lot of new guys there, but I still keep up with how everybody’s going. It’s always fun to pitch against former teammates and organizations. I know a lot of the guys in the front office are still here, that drafted me. It always gives you that little extra incentive to do well against them, but it doesn’t change too much. I’ve had a couple of good starts against them in the last few years. I remember the very first time, in ’15, I was just nervous.”

Montgomery is correct, as he’s allowed only a single run in his two starts (and one relief appearance) opposite Kansas City for his career, spanning 16.1 innings, with 14 strikeouts and no walks. Plus, we shouldn’t have to worry about him being nervous squaring off with his ex-team, since it’s been years now since he was dealt and already went through those emotions the first time he faced them. The motivation will still be there, too.

Unfortunately, the oddsmakers moved swiftly on this game, bringing the over/under down a full run from its opening line of 9.5. There’s still a chance it returns to 9 based on the current juice, so wait it out to see if we indeed get that uptick. If not, I’ll still be on Under 8.5.

Play: UNDER 8.5/9

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.

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