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Matt Zylbert is back with his pick for Friday's Reds vs. Cubs game

MLB Picks

Cincinnati Reds at Chicago Cubs

Over/Under: 6.5

First pitch: 2:20 p.m. ET

TV: MLB Network

Probable pitchers: Vladimir Gutierrez (0-0, -.-- ERA) vs. Adbert Alzolay (2-4, 4.30 ERA)

Reds vs. Cubs Predictions

No, that isn’t a typo. A matchup featuring a relatively unknown youngster making his Major League debut opposite a pitcher with a 4-plus ERA contains a total of 6.5.

This is one of the oddest over/unders I’ve ever seen. Of course, there’s nothing like a Wrigley Field game, as the presence of the famous Chicago winds — depending on which way they’re blowing and how strong they are — will dictate which number the linesmakers elect to go with.

Obviously in this afternoon’s series opener between National League Central division rivals, very significant winds are to be expected. To be specific, 20 mph that is!

And you can tell based on the 6.5 tag that those winds will be strongly blowing in.

Normally, this total still wouldn’t be low given the situations of each of the two starters. But that’s due to myself and the oddsmakers sharing the same thinking.

Alzolay is solid. Finally garnering his first opportunity to be a full-time starter in the big leagues, the 26-year-old has not disappointed one bit. Though his 4.30 ERA may not jump out, Alzolay also holds a very impressive 0.86 WHIP, which actually ranks him in the top 10 amongst starters.

Furthermore, he’s holding opponents below the Mendoza Line with a .195 batting average against. Last year he was even more stingy in that department with a .169 BAA, albeit within a smaller sample.

Point being, this is a young pitcher that stood out to me as early as his second career assignment two years ago (an under I had where he’s faced Max Fried) and trusting Alzolay right now can be a wise investment. How about Gutierrez?

As mentioned, the Cuban import is making his MLB debut here, and while that may bring about a whole bunch of potential variables, I think just like his counterpart, Gutierrez can be trusted this afternoon.

First off, the Reds right-hander has looked good at Triple-A, notching a 3.12 ERA alongside a nice strikeout rate (11.12 K/9).

A lot of backing him has to do with the mental side also. He was literally in tears when he got the call that he would finally be getting his shot in the Major Leagues (“Everything I’ve done in the past has been to get to this moment,” is one thing he said), and his confidence is glaring, too

Gutierrez commenter, “I had kind of like a chip on my shoulder, and said, 'OK, it’s time for me to get back to where I was. It’s time for me to be Vladimir Gutierrez that I know and that everyone knows as well.'"

He throws in the mid-90’s with a four-pitch mix and always stood out in spring training, according to manager David Bell. Gutierrez has potential to shine quickly.

MLB Predictions & Picks

Pick: UNDER 6.5 (-105)

MLB Leans

Brewers-Nationals Under 9

Orioles-White Sox Over 8.5

Padres-Astros Under 8

2021 MLB Over/Under Betting Record*: “28-25-2,” -0.42 unit

Yesterday’s Result: Rockies-Mets Under 5 — Game 1 (WIN)

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


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