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Matt Zylbert closes out the work week with a pick for Dbacks vs. Reds

Cincinnati Reds vs. Arizona Diamondbacks

Over/Under: 9.5

First pitch: 9:40 p.m. ET

TV: MLB Network

Probable pitchers: Tyler Mahle (1-0, 3.60 ERA) vs. Taylor Widener (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

Cincinnati Reds vs. Arizona Diamondbacks Predictions

Since first coming up at the end of the 2017 season, Mahle has impressed for lengthy stretches and exhibited clear potential that he can be a pristine starter.

Now may be the time he’s finally fully blossoming and solidifying himself as one of the horses on Cincinnati’s pitching staff. Mahle’s season debut points to that.

Not only did the 26-year-old beat the St. Louis Cardinals, he did it in decisive fashion, yielding just two earned runs and notably striking out nine. Mahle has always proven capable he can be one of those one-strikeout-per-inning pitchers and broke out in a big way when he etched a career-best 11.33 K/9 last year.

With that first performance under his belt, I believe there’s a lot more similar work to come from the Reds right-hander. Mahle couldn’t really ask for a better assignment to keep pace, as he gets an already-weak lineup that just lost its most dynamic player (Ketel Marte) to the injured list. As it is, they’ve produced more than three runs in a game only twice in seven tries.

But can Widener be trusted? Based on his first career major league start last weekend, the answer is a resounding yes.

The South Carolina product only debuted last year in the pandemic campaign, trotting out for 12 relief appearances en route to mixed results. In those 20 innings, Widener allowed only 14 hits and punched out 22 batters, but he also administered 12 walks and a whopping five home runs.

However, despite a really tough first draw against the hard-hitting San Diego Padres — their best iteration with Fernando Tatis Jr., that is — Widener shined across six scoreless frames and scattered just six baserunners (three hits and three walks).

So, with that instant progression, I’m ready to buy Widener as a polished, viable force that can handle five or six innings with effectiveness and avoid a barrage.

For me, this bet hinges on Mahle putting up a lot of zeroes. While the offense he plays alongside is dangerous, Widener showed he’s ready to hang. Given a high total to work with, that’s all we really need.

Pick: UNDER 9.5 @ -117 (Click to bet)

Friday's MLB Leans

Nationals-Dodgers Under 8.5

Padres-Rangers Under 9

2021 MLB Over/Under Betting Record*: 3-5, -2.55 units

Yesterday’s Result: Mariners-Twins Under 8 (loss)

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


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