The Cincinnati Reds would love to resume using the Pittsburgh Pirates as a stepping stone in Wednesday’s clash between NL Central rivals. It has been nothing but downhill for the Reds in recent games to the point where their path to the playoffs is in jeopardy. They’ll try to turn it around against a Pirates team that has quietly put together consecutive series victories over the Washington Nationals and Detroit Tigers. Mitch Keller is pegged as the starting pitcher for this game against Cincinnati’s Vladimir Gutierrez.
A get-right opportunity for the RedsThe Reds are barely clinging to the second Wild Card spot in the NL playoff picture. A sneeze or a hiccup at the most inopportune time would see them fall behind the San Diego Padres or even the St. Louis Cardinals in that list.
They haven’t exactly helped themselves by losing their last six consecutive series meetings. It has been a steady freefall late in the second half of the season for a team that seemed destined for playoff contention.
But the Pirates could save them from impending doom.
The team with the second-worst record in the NL is on their schedule for at least nine times before the season ends. Heading into Tuesday’s opener, the Reds were 9-1 in these head-to-head meetings. Cincinnati is clearly playing their best defense on the road as opposed to the Great American Ball Park, where they hand out free runs like Halloween candy.
So Vladimir Gutierrez (4.05 ERA) could find success in this matchup against the league’s worst run-scoring offense. Granted, the bats for the Pirates did manage to come alive in their previous series with the Washington Nationals, but I wouldn’t hold my breath for a continuation of that effort.
Speaking of good offense, the Reds have scored seven-plus runs in three of their last four games against the Pirates. They have the ability to pile on the scoreboard quickly, especially when guys like Nick Castellanos and Joey Votto are sending pitches into orbit.
It’s important to note that shortstop Jose Barrero and outfielder Tyler Naquin are both listed as questionable to play in Wednesday’s game.
Will Keller keep it within reach?We’ll see if the third time is the charm for Pirates pitcher Mitch Keller when staring down the Reds’ offensive lineup. There’s no reason to sugarcoat the fact that he got dominated in the previous two meetings. I’m sure he’s still having bad thoughts from that 14-1 loss back in May, when he allowed seven hits and seven runs in only 3.1 innings of work.
Another meltdown like that would sing the Pirates’ lullaby early in Wednesday’s game. Keller has to do a better job of keeping his team in the fight to actually give them a chance a win. The Pirates don’t need me to tell them they aren’t built to play from behind with the worst scoring offense in the league.
It doesn’t help matters that Keller is coming off a loss to the Detroit Tigers in a game where he allowed a whopping 10 hits and four runs in his 11th decision loss of the season. The truth is it could take a gem from the 25-year-old righty to pull off an upset in this game. Crazier things have happened in baseball, and the Reds are slumping enough to at least make it possible.
The top supporting trends for this game, found on Covers.com, are:
- Reds are 19-7 in their last 26 games against a team with a winning % below .400.
- Reds are 18-4 in the last 22 head-to-head meetings.
- Pirates are 32-75 in their last 107 games as an underdog.
- Pirates are 16-41 in their last 57 games against a team with a winning record.
- Pirates are 3-9 in their last 12 home games against a team with a winning record.
- Pirates are 20-66 in their last 86 games against a starter with a WHIP greater than 1.30.
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Full-Game Side Bet
No, the third time won’t be the charm for Mitch Keller on Wednesday night. Charm doesn’t exist for the Pirates’ starting pitcher at PNC Park. However, there are plenty of nightmares for a man that’s throwing an 8.19 ERA with a 2-8 record in his home building.
Welcome to the official house of horrors show for Keller.
Not only is he facing a Reds offense that has treated him like a piñata on the mound, but he’ll be facing them at home, where he has clearly struggled this season. Cincinnati is going to pound his pitches early in this game and put Pittsburgh in a bind of having to play from behind.
That doesn’t usually end well for a Pirates team that’s averaging only 3.67 runs per game. They aren’t putting up the numbers to compete in an offensive shootout with a team like the Reds. Despite all of the recent struggles, this is the game where it all comes alive for Cincinnati with them powering their way through a team that’s clearly inferior to them on both offense and defense.
Heading into Tuesday’s opener, the Reds had compiled double-digit runs against the Pirates in two of their last three games.
I’m taking the Reds to roll on Wednesday.
Full-Game Total Pick
The Reds haven’t looked like themselves in recent outings, particularly on the offensive side of things. They’ve slipped considerably in run-scoring, and in some ways, they’re looking more vulnerable than they’ve been all season.
But a turnaround performance is in the cards with them visiting PNC Park. Pirates starting pitcher Mitch Keller is a meltdown waiting to happen in Pittsburgh, and the Reds have plenty of reasons to be confident heading into this game—the biggest being they dropped seven runs on him in 3.1 innings in their last road trip meeting.
The Pirates just haven’t shown much fight defensively this season with opposing teams averaging a .784 OPS against them. It’ll be all Cincinnati in this game. Give me the over on Wednesday.