MLB Picks: Betting Edge Found On Totals When Tommy John Returnees Face Off In Pittsburgh

Mark Lathrop

Saturday, August 6, 2016 1:34 PM UTC

Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016 1:34 PM UTC

Two Tommy John returnees take the mound in Pittsburgh on Saturday, but it is the bullpens that will decide the fate of the wager of our expert MLB handicapper, Mark Lathrop.

Cincinnati Reds vs Pittsburgh Pirates   
Giving up some ground on my season record here, but just like the clutch of an old Ford truck you just have to keep grinding. This Saturday features a matchup with the Cincinnati Reds traveling to take on the Pittsburgh Pirates in NL Central action. The Reds are in the basement of the Central and currently sport one of the worst run differentials in the MLB, while the Pirates have been hovering around .500 and are well back of the Cubs in the division. The early lines have the Pirates as slight home favorites in this game, where you can back them on the moneyline with MLB odds of -120 at Pinnacle. The O/U total has opened at 8.5 and 8 at various books, so plenty of options there depending on your lean.


Cincinnati Reds
Making his way back from Tommy John surgery to start for the Reds in this game is Homer Bailey. He’ll be on a pitch count I’m sure, so I don’t expect him to go deep in the game, but he did get into the 6th inning in his first start against the San Diego Padres last week. Bailey was a very effective pitcher before getting injured, posting ERA’s in the mid-3’s before getting hurt in early 2015. In his last full season in 2013, Bailey posted a 3.49 ERA, 199/54 K/BB rate, 1.12 WHIP, and .243 batting average allowed. His velocity has been back after his rehab, where Bailey sits at about 94 for his fastball.

Although he hasn’t faced the Pirates in two years, Bailey has done well against them historically. In his career, Bailey is 8-5 with a 3.28 ERA and 1.18 WHIP against the Pirates. The O-U numbers show a strong trend with the Under cashing 11 out of 16 times in his starts.


Pittsburgh Pirates 
Starting for the Pirates is another Tommy John returnee, Ivan Nova. Nova was just picked up from the Yankees, where he had posted a 4.90 ERA, 75/25 K/BB rate, 1.36 WHIP, and .274 batting average allowed over 97.1 innings pitched. He was having a bit of a dinger problem with the Yankees in the tough AL East, and had posted a 21.3% HR/FB rate so far on the season. To put it into perspective, there has been just one start out of Nova’s first 15 on the year in which he did not give up a home run. In fact, he has given up 2 home runs in 4 out of his last ten games. His batting ball metrics tell the whole story, where Nova’s pitches have been both ‘pulled’ and ‘hard hit’ at the greatest rate in his career.

The one clear advantage in this game is in the bullpens. Cincinnati has one of the worst bullpens in the league at a 5.17 ERA. On the other hand, the Pirates’ bullpen ERA of 3.53 is another plane entirely.


Final Analysis
Both of these teams have exhibited very strong O-U trends in 2016. The Reds are 56-41 O-U overall and 46-29 O-U against right-handers favoring the Over on the season. The Pirates are 60-44 O-U overall and 46-36 O-U against right-handers on the season. The Pittsburgh offense at home is almost an autobet on the Over as well, coming in at 34-17 on the season.

I like the matchup that Bailey has here, but I just think that the Cincinnati bullpen will ruin any chance he has of winning the game. The value here is to take the Over, and I’ve found it at 8 at -115 at Heritage for my Saturday MLB Pick.


Free MLB Pick: Over 8 -110
Best Line Offered: at Heritage
2016 YTD MLB: 43-29-3, +12.21 Units

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