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Matt Zylbert closes out the work week with a pick for Toronto Blue Jays vs. Houston Astros

MLB Picks

Toronto Blue Jays at Houston Astros

Over/Under: 9.5

First pitch: 7:10 p.m. ET

Probable pitchers: Steven Matz (4-2, 4.78 ERA) vs. Cristian Javier (3-0, 1.75 ERA)

Toronto Blue Jays vs. Houston Astros

Those not giving serious thought to Javier might want to begin doing so right away. He’s showing his rookie year was no fluke.

That freshman campaign came a year ago in the pandemic-shortened season. Thrust into Major League action for the first time, Javier responded by notching an impressive 3.48 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in 12 games (10 starts). He did it convincingly, too, limiting hitters to a lowly .188 average, which was the sixth-lowest mark in baseball among starters.

Opposing offenses aren’t faring any better at all in the right-hander’s sophomore showing so far, as Javier’s BAA sits at .170. Not only that, he’s harnessing a high strikeout rate like at all levels throughout his minor league journey. After registering 8.94 K/9 as a rookie, Javier has bumped that number up to a sizzling 10.52. Remember, this is someone that was punching out a whopping 13.76 K/9 between Double-A and Triple-A in 2019.

So, Javier’s emergence is indeed for real. How about this renaissance from Matz?

As someone that has always stuck up for and believed in the Long Island product, I assure you his return to relevancy is no sudden flash in the pan. Matz has always simply had it him and sometimes all it takes is a change of scenery — along with returning to a starting rotation full-time — for a player to churn out success again.

True, Matz possesses a mediocre 4.78 ERA. However, his 3.96 xFIP begs to differ in arguing he’s actually been solid. Additionally, he’s continuing a trend from last season when he posted his highest-career strikeout rate with 10.57 K/9. This year, it’s down a bit to 9.28 K/9 but that’s still better than any of his first five years.

Matz is using his changeup considerably more and that’s definitely made a difference in his increased K’s. He’s looking a lot like the pitcher he was in his Mets prime and that’s just what we want.

MLB Expert Picks

Pick: UNDER 9.5 @ -116 (Click to bet)

Friday's MLB Leans

Rays-Athletics Under 7.5

2021 MLB Over/Under Betting Record*: 16-17, -3.3 units

Yesterday’s Result: Diamondbacks-Mets Under 7.5 (“loss”)

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


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