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Matt Zylbert is back with his pick for Friday's White Sox vs. Royals game

MLB Predictions

Kansas City Royals at Chicago White Sox (Game 2)

Over/Under: 6.5

First pitch: 8:10 p.m. ET

Probable pitchers: Jakob Junis (1-2, 5.14 ERA) vs. Michael Kopech (2-0, 1.61 ERA)

Royals vs. White Sox Prediction

Very, very interesting matchup to cap off tonight’s doubleheader between the Royals and White Sox. The quality of pitchers making a spot start during a twin bill really typically isn’t this good, for sure.

But in this instance, it’s two solid arms going at it, both of which are somewhat established with the potential for a whole lot more. Such is certainly the case for Kopech, one of baseball’s most-prized rising hurlers. This season represents the 25-year-old’s first action at the big-league level in three years and Kopech is once again justifying all the hype he gets.

This will be a special assignment for the former Boston Red Sox farmhand, as it’s only his third start of the campaign. Kopech’s mostly been used out of the pen, easing back in after Tommy John surgery.

He’s done more than enough already to prove he can be finally be a fixture on the pitching staff without any extra care. Overall, he’s clocked in with a 1.61 ERA to go alongside a sparkling 35-8 K/BB ratio across 22.1 innings. From his previous pair of starts this year, Kopech allowed only a couple of runs combined while stringing together 14 K’s compared to just one walk.

So, at this point in time, when you’re able to back Kopech as a starter when these outings are few and far between at the moment, you go for it — especially when he’s involved with a reasonable total. The prospects of the flame-throwing right-hander taking on a seven-inning doubleheader mission make me salivate.

Junis, meanwhile, does not nearly carry the same pizzaz as his counterpart this evening. That’s OK, though, because this fifth-year Royal is someone I’ve really been into since first arriving on the scene.

Not only has Junis been pitching well (despite what his 5.14 ERA may suggest), this will be an important spot for the righty after wrongfully (and inexplicably) being demoted from the rotation at the end of April. Prior to his removal (for goddamn Daniel Lynch, who has been basically garbage), Junis was working on a very commendable 3.47 ERA and 1.16 WHIP.

He also looked consistent in doing so, completing at least five frames in each of his four starts. Junis deserved far better than the baffling decision bestowed upon him but he’s getting another shot here to prove he belongs within the starting five.

All that considered, I think Junis can actually be useful in helping maintain a low score opposite someone with real genuine dominant potential like Kopech.

MLB Picks

Pick: UNDER 6.5 (-114)

MLB Leans - May 14

Indians-Mariners Under 7.5

Marlins-Dodgers Under 7

2021 MLB Over/Under Betting Record*: “18-21-2,” -5.98 units

Yesterday’s Result: Giants-Pirates Under 8 (WIN)

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


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