Trade-deadline seller Cincinnati has taken two of the first three games of a series with playoff-hopeful Pirates, but this capper gives the Pirates a good chance of salvaging a split this afternoon.
Pirates-Reds Sunday Odds
As of this writing the MLB betting market was holding off on lining this game, as oddsmakers tried to handicap a pitching match-up of Pittsburgh's Charlie Morton against Cincinnati rookie righty Keyvius Sampson.
Cincinnati has taken two of the first three games of this series, including a 4-3 decision Saturday night. Pittsburgh scored once in the top of the ninth and had the bases loaded when Aroldis Chapman escaped disaster by whiffing Starling Marte to end the game.
So Cincy, a seller in the trade market over recent days, has won four of its last five games, while the Pirates, despite the loss, are 6-3 over their last nine. The Reds also lead the season series with Pittsburgh nine games to three, despite trailing the Bucs by 12.5 games in the standings.
At 47-55 Cincinnati sits 9.5 games from the nearest NL playoff spot.
At 60-43 Pittsburgh trails St. Louis by 5.5 games in the NL Central race, but leads the National League wild-card race.
The totals have leaned toward the OVERS in this season series by a 7-3-2 margin.
Sampson will be making his first-ever ML start, as Cincinnati looks for replacements for Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake. Sampson made his ML debut Thursday, throwing one inning of perfect relief against these Pirates, striking out two.
Sampson, a former fourth-round pick by San Diego back in 2009, is 40-35 with a 4.17 ERA in six-plus seasons of Minor League ball, but only 6-12/6.40 at the Triple-A level. This year he's 2-4/5.08 at AAA-Louisville.
Morton (6-4, 4.61), by our strict standards, is five-for-12 on quality starts this season, but 0 for his last three. Tuesday he gave up three runs in 5 2/3 innings against Minnesota, and over his last three starts he's allowed 12 runs through 18 1/3 innings. On the season Morton has given up 70 hits in 70 innings, walked 24 and struck out 41, which is way down for him.
The Pirates are 8-4 in Morton's starts, with the totals leaning toward the UNDERS by a 6-4 margin.
Last year Morton started twice against Cincy, giving up eight earned runs through 12 innings; Pittsburgh managed to split those two games.
Sunday's Batting Splits
Pittsburgh ranks 10th in the Majors against right-handed pitching this season with a .258 team batting average, and 12th with a .319 team on-base percentage.
Cincinnati ranks 14th against righties with a .256 average and 11th with a .319 team OBP.
Ballpark Totals Factor
The OVERS are 28-18 in games played at Great American Ballpark this season, which are averaging 9.3 runs per, sixth-most among all ML ballparks.
Pirates-Reds Sunday Free Picks
This game might come down to the bullpens, and if it does Pittsburgh holds the advantage. Also, Cincy home games are trending OVER this season, and we like that angle in this spot.
MLB Picks: Pirates and OVER