Zack Greinke has tossed back-to-back Quality Starts for Milwaukee as he approaches his old Cy Young form after fracturing a rib, and Javier Vazquez has also improved for Florida. Go ‘under’ Monday.

Two pitchers that have showed marked improvement lately square off Monday night when Zack Greinke and the Milwaukee Brewers (33-26 overall, 12-19 away) pay a visit to Javier Vazquez and the Florida Marlins (31-26 overall, 14-15 home) as the teams conclude a wrap-around four game weekend series  at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, FL at 7:10 ET.

The Brewers have dominated this series thus far, winning the first three games including a 6-5 extra-inning win yesterday that was won by an 11th-iinning home run by Josh Wilson. The Brewers have now won four of their last five games on this road trip to move to within two games of the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central Division, and just one game back in the loss column.

Hanley RamirezOne of the keys to this Milwaukee resurgence has been the recent pitching if tonight’s start Zack Greinke, the former American League Cy Young Award winner when he was with the Kansas City Royals. Greinke did not make his Brewers’ debut until May 4 as he was recovering from a fractured rib, and after a slow start, he is starting to regain his Cy Young form.

The Marlins counter with Javier Vazquez, and the veteran looked like a washed up pitcher for much of this season until he suddenly turned things around with a superb outing vs. the Tampa Bay Rays three starts back and he followed that up with another Quality Start vs. the LA Dodgers. We feel that both of these pitchers have progressed enough that they should be able to keep this contest ‘under’ the posted total.

The MLB latest line from 5 Dimes has the total for this contest at 8½ in Miami, with the betting odds set at -115.

Greinke has managed to go 4-1 this season despite his overall 5.29 ERA, and the Brewers as a team have gone 5-1 on the baseball odds in the games that he has started. He was very hittable in his first four starts as a Brewer, but his last two starts are much more like it, as he has reeled off back-to-back Quality Starts while allowing a total of five runs and 11 hits in 13 innings with 16 strikeouts.

Even though Greinke gave up a lot of runs in his first four starts, he has had almost impeccable command in every appearance, as he now has 45 strikeouts in 34 innings against a minute six walks! The fact that teams have stopped scoring off him lately suggests that he is almost where he was when he was with the Royals, which is bad news for the rest of the National League.

If Greinke is in need of relief late, it is reassuring to know that Milwaukee has now moved up to sixth in the Major Leagues with a 3.12 bullpen ERA, thanks to that pen posting a miniscule 1.59 ERA over the last 10 games. Greinke is facing a Florida lineup that is batting a modest .241 at home vs. right handed pitchers this year while averaging 3.98 runs per nine innings against them.

Now Vazquez is only 3-4 in MLB betting with an ugly 6.02 ERA and 1.54 WHIP in 58.1 innings, but after looking atrocious in his first eight starts, in fact amazingly allowing first-inning runs in all eight of those outings, Vazquez suddenly tossed seven scoreless innings vs. the Rays while allowing just three hits three starts back in an outing that seemed to come totally out of the blue.

Then, as of to prove that start wasn’t a fluke, Vazquez held the Dodgers to two runs while again allowing only three hits, this time in six innings. Now he did allow four runs vs. the Diamondbacks last time out, but he allowed only six hits in six innings while not walking a single batter, again a major improvement over his early season performances.

Vazquez now has the opportunity to succeed again vs. a Milwaukee lineup that is batting a dismal .222 on the road this season, including batting .224 while averaging 3.46 runs per nine innings vs. right-handers away from Miller Park.

Granted, the ‘over’ is now 8-3 in the last 11 head-to-head meetings between these teams, but we feel that tonight’s hurlers are in good enough form to buck that trend tonight.



Free MLB Pick: Brewers, Marlins ‘under’ 8½ (-115)