MLB plays of the day: Trust deGrom, Mets' bats early vs. Braves
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Monday's slate of nine games is thinner than usual, but two intriguing mound matchups more than make up for that.

Cleveland Indians (+115) at Cincinnati Reds (-135)

Starting pitchers: Zach Plesac (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Sonny Gray (2-0, 0.71 ERA)

Indians star Shane Bieber is rightfully getting plenty of early-season Cy Young buzz. But Gray is making one heck of a case for hardware in the opposite league, too. He's the only pitcher ranked in the top five league-wide in ERA (0.71), WHIP (0.55), fWAR (0.5), and batting average against (.098). A solo shot allowed in his debut - the only hit he gave up that day - is the lone blemish on Gray's otherwise sterling record.

His stuff has been phenomenal, and Gray is second only to Bieber in xFIP (1.14) and strikeout rate (44.4%). He tweaked his slider to revive his career in 2019, and the 30-year-old has added even more movement to that pitch now, resulting in an absurd 56.5% whiff rate in 2020. He's also tightened up his curveball, which Fangraphs ranks as the fourth-most valuable breaking pitch this season.

And then there's Plesac, one of only three pitchers who has thrown eight-plus innings without allowing a run. He fanned 11 batters while giving up just three hits and zero walks in an electric debut, coaxing seven of those strikeouts with his slider, one of the few pitches this Reds lineup is struggling against.

Given Cleveland's recent difficulties at the plate, too, this game could easily develop into a pitcher's duel.

Pick: Under 8.5 (-120)

New York Mets (-125) at Atlanta Braves (+105)

Starting pitchers: Jacob deGrom (0-0, 1.64 ERA) vs. Mike Soroka (0-0, 1.59 ERA)

It's hard to trust the Mets with your money right now because of their comical bullpen woes and lineup concerns. Still, there are opportunities here. New York plated 10 runs against the Braves on Friday and stranded a combined 24 runners over the following two games in Atlanta, and the latter simply won't sustain for long.

Soroka got the best of New York's bats on Opening Day, but he managed just three strikeouts, and 41% of the batters he faced hit him hard while registering a .334 xBA, according to Statcast. The 22-year-old is a prototypical pitch-to-contact hurler, which isn't ideal against a Mets lineup that ranks seventh in solid contact rate and has been among the most successful this year on balls in play.

Conversely, deGrom sliced through the Braves' lineup in that Opening Day win, striking out eight of the 17 batters he faced while allowing just one hit. The Mets' bullpen is too volatile right now for a full-game bet, but five innings of deGrom is hard to resist.

Pick: Mets first five innings (-130)

(Odds source: theScore Bet)

C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He's an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He's also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.

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MLB plays of the day: Trust deGrom, Mets' bats early vs. Braves
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