The Pirates are headed to the playoffs again, while the Reds are not...again. How are we betting Monday afternoon's series opener at Great American Ball Park?
Pirates-Reds Monday Odds
As of this writing the best price we could find on Pittsburgh on today's MLB odds board with lefty Jeff Locke was the -118 at 5Dimes, while Cincinnati and Anthony DeSclafani were getting +115 at Pinnacle. And most books listed a total on today's game of eight runs, with a few 8.5's out there, too.
Pittsburgh just took two of three games in St. Louis over the weekend, winning Sunday night's rubber match 7-1. So the Pirates are 6-1 in their last seven series, 16-8 over their last 24 games.
At 81-54 Pittsburgh has pulled to within 5.5 games of the division-leading Cardinals in the NL Central, and leads the National League wild-card race by three games over the second-place Cubs.
Cincy, meanwhile, just dropped two of three games at home to Milwaukee, avoiding the sweep with a 6-3 victory Sunday. So the Reds have lost 10 of their last 11 series, although they're 4-4 over their last eight games.
At 56-79 Cincinnati has fallen into last place in the NL Central, 30.5 games behind the Cardinals.
The Reds may trail the Pirates by 25 games in the standings, but they lead this season series nine games to four, with the OVERS going 7-4-2.
Monday's Mound Match-Up
DeSclafani (7-10, 3.87), by our tough standards, is 13-for-26 on quality starts this season, but one for his last three. Last Tuesday he was charged with three runs through 5 2/3 innings against the Cubs, and over his last three starts he's allowed 10 runs through 17 2/3 innings. On the season DeSclafani has permitted 158 hits through 156 innings, walked 52 and struck out 121.
Cincy is 11-15 in DeSclafani's starts, with the totals skewing UNDER by a 15-8 margin.
In three starts this season against Pittsburgh DeSclafani has allowed six earned runs through 17 innings; the Reds won two of those games, while two of those games played OVER.
Locke (7-9, 4.66) is just seven-for-26 on quality starts this season, and just one for his last eight. Last Wednesday he gave up five runs in less than four innings against a mediocre Milwaukee lineup, and over his last three starts he's allowed 13 runs through 15 2/3 innings. For the season Locke has allowed more hits, 157, than innings pitched, 145, walked 52 and struck out 107 for an unimpressive K/BB ratio of 2/1.
The Pirates are 14-12 in Locke's starts, with the OVERS going 14-9.
In three starts this season against Cincinnati Locke has allowed nine ER through 16 innings; Pittsburgh won two of those games, while two of those games played OVER.
Monday's Batting Splits
For the season Pittsburgh ranks ninth against right-handed pitching with a .323 team on-base percentage and 18th with a .399 team slugging percentage.
Cincinnati, on the other hand, ranks 17th against left-handed pitching with a .318 team OBP but sixth with a .418 team slugging percentage.
We'll call this battle of the bats a wash.
Ballpark Totals Factor
The OVERS are 36-27 in games played at Great American Ball Park this season, which are averaging 9.0 runs per.
Cincinnati is playing without OF Billy Hamilton (54 SB), who's on the DL with a bad shoulder. The Reds are 5-13 since he went down.
Pirates-Reds Free Picks
We'll give Cincy the edge in the pitching match-up, but Pittsburgh owns the much better bullpen. And the Pirates are just the better team, with more to play for. We'll take the Buccos today. Also, we can see this game getting to 5-4, so we like the OVER.