Arizona Diamondbacks at Cincinnati Reds
First pitch: 12:35 p.m. ET
TV: MLB Network
Probable pitchers: Taylor Widener (1-0, 1.59 ERA) vs. Jeff Hoffman (2-1, 2.93 ERA)
Skepticism is to be expected when looking at the curiously low earned run averages attached to the two, otherwise, obscure starting pitchers who are set to take the mound for today’s series finale in Cincy.
Alas, what if I were to tell you they are both legit uprisings? Widener especially has caught my eye as one of the most intriguing surprises early in the campaign.
Though he is not posting whopping strikeout numbers, Widener does an admirable job working the plate and he possesses good stuff. He’s also allowed only one homer also across three starts — two of which went for scoreless outings.
That’s how you keep a tough Reds offense at bay; by keeping the ball in the yard. Relatively cold temperatures in the 40’s, as projected, can also play a sizable role. Plus, I don’t envision Widener sticking to that lower strikeout rate (5.82 K/9) he currently pockets after registering more than a punch-out per inning during each stop of his professional baseball career.
How about Hoffman? Is he for real after a lackluster first five years in the bigs as a member of the Colorado Rockies? Maybe.
At the very least, Hoffman is proving he belongs now and that’s all that really matters when first latching onto such a pitcher in the process of doing so. This version of Hoffman is evidently different from the one that had a career 6.40 ERA.
According to Fangraphs, Hoffman is drawing considerably more soft contact (17.4 percent) compared to recent years. The hard-hit contact rate (34.8 percent) is down notably, too. While his strikeout totals have been lower — similar to his counterpart — I expect that to tick back up closer to his norm. He was around a strikeout per inning the last two seasons.
Being a getaway-day early game following a nighttime affair (not to mention action before that finishing off the previous game), we can also shoot for downgraded lineups, even if only by a bit.
Just wait up until first pitch to see if the total inflates up to 9. Based on the allotment of the juice, it’s very possible. If it doesn’t, I’ll still bet the current number.
MLB Expert Picks
UNDER 9 @ -115 (Click to bet)
MLB Free Picks
The Major League Baseball season is in full swing now as we’re a little over a week into the season. You can find Mr. Over/Under, Matt Zylbert, on OddsChecker throughout the season, providing us with his in-depth breakdown and pick on the total for all his plays.
Be on the lookout for Matt’s picks, along with our weekly Major League Baseball betting market video from John Laghezza and Jamie Kelton. On OddsChecker, we bring you the best expert picks and up-to-the-minute odds for all things MLB.
Thursday's MLB Leans
Yankees-Indians Over 8
2021 MLB Over/Under Betting Record*: 11-9, +0.93 unit
Yesterday’s Result: Pirates-Tigers Under 6 — Game 1 (WIN)
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit