Toronto Blue Jays at Kansas City Royals (Game 1)
First pitch: 2:10 p.m. ET
Probable pitchers: Steven Matz (2-0, 1.46 ERA) vs. Mike Minor (1-0, 4.50 ERA)
One of the challenges for a gambler early in the season is deciphering whether or not a player’s resurgence is truly for real.
In the case of Matz, as someone who always believed in the left-hander’s ability during his six years with the New York Mets, it’s maybe time now everyone starts buying in. Matz is living up to his potential.
Though the 29-year-old fell out of favor in Flushing, that could be attributed to a combination of injuries and inconsistency related his role. By the end of his tenure with the Amazin’s, Matz was shifted back and forth to the bullpen, which can mess with any pitcher’s psyche when they’re a starter — and, in fact, a legit quality one.
Matz appears to be putting it all together, which is unsurprisingly the result sometimes of moving a talented guy to new scenery. He’s 2-0 and allowed only a pair of runs total across his two assignments, spanning 12.1 innings. He’s also notably crafted a 13-4 K/BB ratio.
Clearly, the southpaw has his confidence back after seemingly losing it a year ago when he was saddled with some uncharacteristically bad numbers. And when Matz is in rhythm and has his stuff working, he’s a genuine solid arm to tail.
Minor hasn’t exhibited the same type of re-emergence at first glance but the clues are there. One, he’s been pretty steady, pitching into the fifth or deeper in both his outings. Most glaringly, he’s been tagged for only one homer, which might not be a huge deal to some in such a small sample size, but I see it as a big stride considering Minor allowed 66 taters in 71 starts (and one relief outing) the last three seasons.
Like his counterpart tonight, Minor is succeeding in a new situation, one that has him positioned again as a dependable veteran hand in the pitching rotation like he was in Texas. And he’s responded well.
Of course, pitching in an unusual seven-inning doubleheader game can possibly present variance no matter the matchup. Here, though, I like the two starters tasked with this challenge, as I think Matz will embrace his first such start, seeing it as an opportunity for a complete game (he only has one, from 2019, in his career).
Minor, meanwhile, pitched in three of these last year and churned out generally fine results, including his second-ever complete game shutout in the Majors. Put your trust in both lefties to carry the load. Pick: UNDER 7 (-132)
MLB Expert Picks
UNDER 7 @ -132 (Click to bet)
MLB Free Picks
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Saturday's MLB Leans
Blue Jays-Royals Over 7.5 (Game 2)
Giants-Marlins Under 7.5
2021 MLB Over/Under Betting Record*: 7-9, -3.07 units
Yesterday’s Result: Astros-Mariners Under 8 (“loss”)
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit