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Matt Zylbert's pick for Thursday's Giants vs. Pirates game

MLB Predictions

San Francisco Giants at Pittsburgh Pirates

Over/Under: 8

First pitch: 6:35 p.m. ET

Probable pitchers: Anthony DeSclafani (2-1, 2.40 ERA) vs. Wil Crowe (0-1, 4.02 ERA)

Giants vs. Pirates Predictions

OK, for those that haven’t been doing so, it’s time to start paying attention to the two starting pitchers set to kick off this four-game set between the Giants and Pirates tonight. They deserve attention.

First of all, both are apparently still very much under the radar in the eyes of the linesmakers, who have elected to tag this series opener with an over/under of 8 from a pitcher-friendly National League venue. There have definitely been inferior pitching matchups to this particular billing at PNC Park that attracted lower totals.

Oh well, let’s try to capitalize on it and feel good about the pair of probables colliding.

DeSclafani, for one, has been a true underrated breakout of the 2021 campaign thus far. He’s previously exhibited potential of doing this for awhile but in his first year with the Giants, it looks like the seven-year veteran has really put it all together. Alongside a shiny 2.40 ERA, DeSclafani is limiting opponents to a minuscule .191 batting average, which is the 16th-best mark among all starters.

The right-hander otherwise known as Disco doesn’t get a lot of K’s but that’s fine considering the type of contact he generates. Only a mere 13.2 percent of balls put in play off DeSclafani have gone for line drives, according to FanGraphs, while his groundball rate is a staggering 56.1 percent. He’s clearly been in control.

Now give DeSclafani a soft lineup to work against — in a pitcher’s park, to boot — like the Buccos and watch him do his thing. The Pirates currently pen, probably, the least intimidating offense in baseball.

The other team in this affair, the Giants, certainly don’t carry a weak batting order. Their balance in every facet of the game is why they’re currently sitting pretty as the National League West division leaders.

At the same time, how long can this last? San Francisco is a top-10 club in team OPS (.718) and top five in homers (47) as well, but those rankings don’t seem sustainable. Given their lack of flash, it seems a regression would be oncoming.

Maybe that can assist the emerging youngster Crowe, who has been nearly as impressive as this evening’s counterpart. While this has involved a shorter sample size of three starts (and one relief appearance), his success must be noted, especially compared to last year’s woes.

Crowe made his Major League debut in the pandemic-shortened campaign and got pounded (though that also involved a universal DH), providing a disastrous 11.88 ERA and 2.64 WHIP from his three starts. This season, however, is proving to be a night-and-day scenario, as the 26-year-old hasn’t yielded more than three runs in any assignment. Progress this is, indeed.

Opposite the rock-steady DeSclafani, all we would like is just another serviceable showing from Crowe. He’ll be following up his first-ever quality start with confidence.

MLB Expert Picks

Pick: UNDER 8 (-112)

MLB Leans - May 13

Cardinals-Brewers Under 6.5

Rangers-Astros Under 9

Marlins-Diamondbacks Under 8.5

2021 MLB Over/Under Betting Record*: “17-21-2,” -6.98 units

Yesterday’s Result: Padres-Rockies Under 7 — Game 1 (“loss”)

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


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