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Fresh off yesterday's win, MLB expert Matt Zylbert is back with his pick for Thursday's ALDS matchup between the Athletics and Astros

Oakland Athletics vs. Houston Astros

Over/Under: 9

First pitch: 3:35 p.m. ET


Venue: Dodger Stadium (Los Angeles)

Probable pitchers: Frankie Montas (3-5, 5.60 ERA) vs. Zack Greinke (3-3, 4.03 ERA)

Oakland Athletics vs. Houston Astros Predictions

If it seems like Frankie Montas and Zack Greinke have opposed one another quite often lately, that’s because they have. This is actually the third matchup between the two right-handers since late August.

They squared off in one those shortened doubleheader seven-inning affairs. A regular nine-inning game, too. Interestingly, it was Greinke — then still with the Arizona Diamondbacks — who was Montas’ first challenger in his first start with Oakland two years ago, which he won in the form of a fun 2-1 duel. The two split their pair of meetings this season

Now it’s the playoffs. And this is a potential elimination game for the A’s, who will be cinching onto Montas to keep them alive. And the former Chicago White Sox farmhand is more than up for the tall task.

Yeah, yeah. Montas definitely had an underwhelming performance overall in 2020 following his first-ever American League Pitcher of the Week Award, which he garnered as a result of his fantastic work for the first week of August. Things immediately started to go downhill for him when he was scratched with back tightness in what was supposed to be his first start after earning the August nod.

Montas’ rest-of-the-season was very up-and-down, hence why he finished with a very uncharacteristic 5.60 ERA and 1.51 WHIP at the end of the campaign. The good news is he did end his year strong, even racking up a career-high 13 strikeouts in the final assignment.

He had pretty good numbers in his three dealings with the Astros. In fact, two of Montas’ three wins on the season came at  the expense of Houston. His counterpart, Greinke, also has solid history against this opponent, a trend that has held true since the 17-year veteran first arrived in H-Town a season ago.

Greinke has faced the Athletics five times in an Astros uniform and strung together a 2.40 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 28-5 K/BB ratio across 30 total innings. That’s an average of six innings per outing but of course, the elephant in the room is how long Greinke can go after reporting arm soreness following his last start in the Wild Card Round. But this is something to lean on.

As manager Dusty Baker explained, the plan is for exciting rookie Cristian Javier to “probably” be involved in the game plan. That could suggest he may be in line to piggyback Greinke, and even if that’s the case after only a few innings, I’m all for it.

Javier was very impressive in his first Major League rodeo. Additionally, following up a slow-thrower like Greinke can only serve to make his already-good stuff look even more explosive to batters.

Bet: UNDER 9 (+100)

MLB Leans - October 8

TB/NYY Under 9

2020 MLB Over/Under Betting Record*

Regular season: “19-42-4,” -28.91 units

Postseason: 5-2, +1.95 units

Last Result: Marlins-Braves Under 8.5

*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit (postseason 0.5 unit except first one)


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