Cincinnati shoots for a sweep of a divisional road series at Pittsburgh Thursday night. Do we go with the Reds and the brooms for our free MLB pick? Or do we think the Pirates will fend it off?
Reds-Pirates Thursday Betting Odds
In the early betting most MLB odds were chalking Pittsburgh with AJ Burnett at around -140 over Cincinnati and Anthony DeSclafani, with a total of 7.5 runs.
Cincy took the opener of this series Tuesday night 7-1, rapping out 12 hits while getting six quality innings from starter Michael Lorenzen. The Reds then poked out 10 hits while getting eight shutout innings from Mike Leake in a 3-0 victory Wednesday night. So the Reds are 6-3 over their last nine games, and 5-0 this season against Pittsburgh.
The Pirates have lost five in a row overall, scoring a total of five runs in the process.
At 14-13 Cincinnati sits in third place in the NL Central, six games behind first-place St. Louis, while Pittsburgh, at 12-15, is in fourth place, eight games out.
The Reds swept three games from the Pirates a month ago at Cincinnati, by scores of 5-2, 5-4 and 3-2
This pitching match-up is a rematch of a game played three weeks ago, a 3-2 Reds win.Burnett is four-for-five on quality starts this year, and four for his last four. Last Friday he tossed six shutout innings against the Cardinals in St. Louis, and just before that he held Arizona to one run through seven innings. On the season Burnett has allowed just five runs and 36 base-runners (hits + walks) through 31 innings; Pittsburgh is just 1-4 in Burnett's starts, but that's not his fault, considering three of those losses came by scores of 3-2, 2-0 and 2-1. Also, the totals have leaned toward the UNDERS in Burnett's starts by a 4-0-1 margin.
Burnett missed Cincinnati last season; in his first start against the Reds this season he gave up two runs and four hits through 5 1/3 innings, with seven strikeouts, in that 3-2 Pirates defeat.
DeSclafani is three-for-five on quality starts this season, but is coming off his worst outing so far, after giving up four runs on four hits and five walks in five innings against Atlanta last Friday. Just prior to that he gave up five runs in five innings against the Cubs, but only one of those runs was earned. On the season DeSclafani has allowed seven earned runs and 29 base-runners through 31 innings; Cincy is 3-2 in DeSclafani's starts, with the totals leaning toward the UNDERS by a 3-0-2 margin.
In his only career start against Pittsburgh, which came four weeks ago, DeSclafani held the Pirates to two runs and five hits, with one walk and six strikeouts, in six innings of that 3-2 Reds victory.
Thursday's Batting Splits
Cincinnati owns a .299 team OBP and a .380 team slugging percentage against right-handed pitching this season.
Pittsburgh owns a .283 OBP and a .342 slugging percentage against righties.
Cincy slugger Joey Votto bumped an umpire Wednesday night, and his status for Thursday's game, as of this writing, is uncertain. Also, Reds SS Zack Cozart, who's hitting .304 this season, has missed recent action with a bad finger, and is questionable for Thursday. Bettors might be wise to wait until later in the day to get down on this game.
Reds-Pirates Free Picks
These two pitchers produced a 3-2 Cincy victory a month ago, and we could easily see something similar going down tonight. And with Burnett going, while his teammates' bats remain cold, we're thinking UNDER for our MLB picks.