Reds Excellent Bullpen to Keep it Close Against Cubs

Mark Lathrop

Saturday, April 22, 2017 2:44 PM UTC

Saturday, Apr. 22, 2017 2:44 PM UTC

Our MLB handicapper is back from a needed day off, and spots an easy run line dog worth backing as one of your Saturday MLB Picks.

The surprising Cincinnati Reds hold an early April lead on the National League Central standings after pundits (including myself) wrote off their season before it began. At 9-7, the Reds hold a half-game lead over the Cubs coming into Friday night’s game. Turns out that the Reds are out of starters though, so they will turn to the bullpen for Saturday’s game at home against their division rival. Cody Reed gets the call for the Reds and he goes up against the Cubs’ Jake Arietta. Opening odds have the Cubs as heavy moneyline favorites at -176 at BookMaker. The Over/Under total has opened at 8 runs across the board.

Cody Reed is 24 years old, barely, and has been pitching excellent to start the 2017 season. His fastball has picked up over two ticks over last year, although that could be because he has been used out of the bullpen to start the season. That fact is an indicator that the Reds will use their bullpen in this game at some point. Still, Reed’s success can’t be denied, which is undoubtedly the reason he is getting the start tonight. His peripherals have been outstanding, with a subterranean 7.7% hard hit rate and a sky-high 17.1% whiff rate on the season over just 8 relief innings.

What we need from Reed for a Red’s win is two turns through the rotation, or about 4 innings. After that the ball should be turned over to the Red’s bullpen, who has also been a great factor of their success in April. Reed has been a big part of that, of course. Still, on the season the Reds bullpen has pitched to a 2.43 ERA and 1.03 WHIP.

Opposing Reed is Jake Arrieta, who has also been good this season in picking up a 2.89 ERA and 0.91 WHIP. Arrieta has found this success even after losing more than 2 ticks from his fastball, a rarity in the MLB. His off-speed pitches have also dropped two ticks so batters are still just as off-balance as before. His cutter has been his best pitch so far on the season, worth more than 8 runs below average compared to the rest of the league. Arrieta has pitched decent against the Reds in his career, putting up a 3.47 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. Over seven starts he has collected a 5-2 record and the Over is cashing at a 5-1 clip.

After Cincinnati’s blistering 7-2 start they have come back to earth a bit, going 2-5 in their last seven games. Chicago is 3-4 over their last seven so not much can be said for momentum going into tonight’s game. For that reason, I’m going to go back to the well on the home team run line underdog, and take Cincinnati at +1.5 runs +100 at BetOnline as one of my Saturday MLB Picks.

Free MLB Pick: Reds +1.5Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

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