Cincinnati Cannot Score and Middle Relief is Brutal
The word around the Cactus League this spring was that the Reds were going to have trouble scoring runs with a less potent lineup. Those baseball watchers were spot-on as the Reds are 28th in baseball in runs scored at 3.5 per game. Having Jay Bruce and now Joey Votto out of the lineup depletes there run potential, as has catcher Devin Mesaraco having just 79 at bats this season.
Even when Cincinnati has been competitive the first five or six innings, their middle relievers have been clobbered, which is covered below in greater depth.
The Reds were supposed to slip to around a .500 in 2014. This club lacks the necessary spark as noted by their 7-15 (-6.3 units) record as an underdog.
The Dodgers have a Pulse, but do they have a Heartbeat?
To this point of the season, Los Angles has overcome losing ace Clayton Kershaw for more than a month, unreliable fielding all year, and scant production from a highly paid outfield (except the Yasiel Puig), yet the Dodgers are still within shouting distance of San Francisco at five games back thanks to an 18-11 (+5.3) road record.
It is about time the players in the bright white uniforms with the blue caps begin playing with passion before the home folks and earn those hefty paychecks.
Puig is doing his part (.345 BA) and Adrian Gonzalez is showing signs of awakening, as he is up to 12 home runs. Nonetheless, Manager Don Mattingly needs Matt Kemp, Andre Either and/or Carl Crawford to step up. Reports all season have said one of these three needs to be traded, but given their performance this and the last couple of seasons, along with injuries and big contracts to go along with declining skills, what would any of this trio bring back in return?
The best solutions are to have two of these outfielders start sending out signals like they care about winning, the Dodgers start playing to their talent level, and possibly make a trade to help their bench or bullpen.
Pitching Matchup for Tuesday
Just when it looked like Alfredo Simon (6-2, 2.31 ERA, 1.01 WHIP) might be showing signs of not being able to maintain his skill in moving from the bullpen into the rotation, he’s turned in two fine performances, and has to be considered to beat the MLB odds. Opposing teams are hitting just .210 against Simon, and his road ERA is a superb 1.05 in five starts.
How good has Zack Greinke (7-1, 2.02, 1.13) been? In his last start, he set a major league record with 22 straight outings in which he gave up two earned runs or less. His consistency is something to marvel at, and he has a .175 ERA when pitching under the lights. He’s been one of the best home hurlers in beating the betting odds with MLB picks with his 19-2 record in home games versus NL teams with an on-base percentage .315 or worse. (Team’s record)
In spite of having all the key members of the bullpen back, Cincinnati continues to flounder and is last in the NL in ERA. MLB baseball handicappers are quick to find the Reds have five different relievers who have made at least 10 appearances this season with an ERA north of five. It is terrific to have Aroldis Chapman back, but his true effectiveness is when Cincy has a lead late, which is problematic with this crew.
Hard to argue with L.A’s save percentage at 76.1 percent, yet something has been off all season about the Dodgers pen. Not having Clayton Kershaw impacted the use of this group, and they have thrown the most innings in the NL. (This is also indictment on the Dodgers starters.) Nonetheless, when the game has been in the balance to go either way, Los Angeles relievers have been pegged for a dozen defeats, tied with the Cubs for the most in the senior circuit.
The Dodger pensters hurt themselves with free passes and even if you adjust walks for innings pitched, they are still the worst in the NL, a full 10 percent over the league average.
Head to Head Combat and Betting Odds
The Dodgers have taken six of the past eight at Chavez Ravine, which includes a 5-2-1 'under' mark. These clubs have shown tendencies to play 'under,' with a 10-2-1 'under' record the past three years.
Sportsbooks sent Los Angeles out as -160 money line favorites with a total at 'under' 6.5.
The Winner Is….
Given how well Simon has pitched all year, and the fact that Cincinnati has won all five of his away starts, the Reds certainly would appear to have a chance, but Greinke and the Dodgers are a remarkable 23-4 as a favorite of -150 (or more) which makes it difficult not to play them.
MLB Free Picks: Los Angeles Dodgers win