JA Happ the Difference Tonight When Pirates Visit Reds: MLB Picks

David Lawrence

Wednesday, September 9, 2015 11:40 AM GMT

We preview tonight's matchup between the Pirates and the Reds in hopes of finding solid MLB betting value. Where have we decided to place our MLB picks in this matchup?

MLB odds have opened the Pittsburgh Pirates as -150 favorites for tonight's meeting, and the total currently sits at 8.5. 

The Pittsburgh Pirates are trying to chase down the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central Division race. They host the Cardinals for another series a little later this month, so if they can carve into the Redbirds’ lead a little more, they know that with a sweep of St. Louis at home, they’ll be in position to snatch the division and not have to play a wild card game in early October. One problem, though, for the Pirates this season is that they have struggled against their own division. They have dominated the other two divisions in the National League, but are under .500 against the Central. If they can solve this issue and win this series in Cincinnati by beating the Reds on Wednesday, they’ll feel a lot better about themselves heading into the coming weekend.

 

Momentum
Neither team has a lot of momentum because the first two games of this series were split. On Monday, the Reds’ pitching dominated in a 3-1 win over the Pirates. On Tuesday, the Pirates’ hitting had the last word in a 7-3 victory over the Reds. In that narrow context, these teams are even in terms of momentum. However, the Pirates have a lot more at stake this week, which ought to help them. Pittsburgh did win two out of three over the past weekend in St. Louis, against the Cardinals, so that’s something Pittsburgh can turn to as a source of inspiration going into this game. If the Bucs can win a series in St. Louis, surely they can win one in Cincinnati as well.

 

Pitching Matchup
With J.A. Happ, the Pirates have to feel increasingly confident about where they are in this game. Pittsburgh should stand on solid ground with Happ, who continues to give this team great performances from the back end of the rotation, shoring up the overall pitching staff and easing pressure on the bullpen. Happ was dazzling last Friday night, as he shut out the Cardinals through seven strong innings, giving up only three hits. Happ had an ERA which was a lot more bloated earlier in the season, but he has shaved it down to 3.90 with a WHIP of 1.33. He has turned his own season around and has become a valuable part of the Pirates’ roster, something a lot of analysts probably weren’t expecting or forecasting when he joined the team.

For Cincinnati, Keyvius Sampson is the starter. He joined the rotation on July 30 and has made eight career Major League appearances, all with the Reds, seven of them as a starter. The results have not been good at all. Sampson’s ERA is at 6.68, the WHIP at 1.87. Sampson has given up at least three runs in each of his last four starts. He has not gotten out of the fourth inning in any of those four starts. He has pitched into the sixth inning in only one of his seven starts. He has pitched into the fifth inning in only three.

 

What’s The Pick?
So when setting up our MLB picks, this is clearly a pithcing mismatch in favor of the Pirates, and you do not have to overthink this game too much. Take Pittsburgh.

Free NFL Pick: Pittsburgh -135 at TheGreek