MLB Picks for Pirates vs. Reds with Cole/Leake Starting Pitchers

Joe Gavazzi

Wednesday, April 8, 2015 2:23 PM GMT

Wednesday, Apr. 8, 2015 2:23 PM GMT

We are pleased to share our free MLB pick, betting odds analysis and prediction for tonigh't matchup at 7:10 ET between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cincinnati Reds in the 2nd of a 3-game set.

Pittsburgh Pirates (Cole) (-115) vs. Cincinnati Reds (Leake) 7:10 ET
The Reds won the opener on Monday by a score of 5-2.  Pittsburgh Pirate killer, Johnny Cueto, had another outstanding start against the Bucs.  Todd Frazier clouted a 3-run homer to finish the job in the 8th inning.  I don’t expect a repeat of that result Wednesday night, as these two teams have been headed opposite directions for several years.  Consider that in 2012, the Reds were a superb 97-65.  The Pirates were in the midst of losing for the 20th consecutive season with a record of 79-83.  In the 2 years since, Pittsburgh has had a better record than the Reds, including 88-74 last year to 76-86 last season for Cincinnati.  Similar records are expected for these two again this season, as the Pirates again challenge St. Louis for the NL Central crown.

Last season, the Reds played much of the year without injured hitting stars, Votto and Bruce.  The result was a pathetic offense that resulted in a .661 OPS (3rd worst in the league).  The Reds hope that offense will improve with a return to health of their stars, plus the addition of Marlon Byrd and Billy Hamilton, who will lead the way on the base paths.  But after Cueto at the top of the rotation, there is little to fear.  Two of last year’s starters, Latos and Simon, were traded, while No. 2 man, Homer Bailey, had off-season surgery.  That leaves Mike Leake in this No. 2 spot following an 11-13 campaign, in which he posted a 3.70 ERA.  History may show that Leake is 5-0 in his most 11 recent starts against the Pirates.  But, a closer inspection shows that the Reds dropped his last 4 starts against the Pirates.  More telling for those placing MLB picks is the fact that, for the 3rd consecutive season, opposing batters hit .263 or better against him.  

The MLB odds favorites tonight, the Pirates, are clearly a team on the rise with 182 victories in the last 2 seasons.  Another 90-win season could easily be in the offing this year.  Last season, Pittsburgh was in the Top 10 in both pitching and batting with a 3.47 ERA and .247 BAA from their mound corps.  On offense, the Bucs had a .734 OPS which was bettered by only Colorado, Detroit and the LA Dodgers.  This year, the Bucs have the best outfield in baseball, led by CF Andrew McCutcheon, who is flanked by Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco.  Emerging star, Josh Harrison, will take over at 3rd, allowing Alvarez to move to 1st, where his defensive deficiencies will not be as evident.  The trading for AJ Burnett, who stabilized this staff in 2013 with his veteran leadership, is as big a positive in the locker room as on the mound.  Most eager, however, to witness the season of tonight’s starter, Gerrit Cole, as he begins his 3rdseason in the “bigs”!  With a 238/68 lifetime KBB and 1.19 WHIP, look for Cole to have his best season ever.   

With the better of it on the plate and on the mound, look for the Pirates, who have not started 0-2 since 2006, to even this series against the Reds. 

MLB Picks: Take Pittsburgh Pirates -1.5 (+150) from 5Dimes

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