I am starting to have second thoughts about mostly dismissing the Cincinnati Reds of winning the NL Central. They have won five straight entering Friday night's Game 2 of a four-game series in Milwaukee to climb with 2.5 games of division-leading Pittsburgh and just a half-game behind St. Louis. Cincy is +200 on Sportsbook.ag to win the division.
The Reds recently got outfielder Ryan Ludwick back from the DL. He hasn't done much yet and will need some time after being hurt on Opening Day, but he's like adding a trade piece at this point in the season. The Cards and Pirates didn't add someone like that. In addition, it's still possible the Reds could get ace Johnny Cueto back as well as lefty reliever Sean Marshall before the end of the season. Cueto has been on and off the DL all year, while Marshall hasn't pitched since May. At this point, anything from either might be gravy, but it's all about getting lined up for the playoffs. I think at least a wild-card spot is a lock for Cincinnati with the Diamondbacks the closest team and six games back.
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As for Milwaukee, the Brewers would simply like this season to end. The only team with a worse record in the National League is Miami. There's the whole Ryan Braun mess -- might the team try to trade him and accept 50 cents on the dollar this offseason? Injuries have ravaged the team all season. The latest happened Thursday night when all-star outfielder Carlos Gomez slammed into the wall making a catch in the fourth inning. He is batting .288 with a team-best 18 home runs to go with 55 RBI and 30 stolen bases and might win a Gold Glove in center field. If you go by wins above replacement, he's one of the five-best players in the majors this season. As of this writing, the MRI results from Friday were not out, but expect Gomez to miss at least a few games. What's the point of rushing him back in this lost season? Five of Milwaukee's nine projected Opening Day starters have landed on the DL, with Braun, Rickie Weeks and Corey Hart (never played a game) all done for the year.
Reds at Brewers Betting Story Lines
Speaking of Milwaukee's projected Opening Day lineup, the Brewers' starter in that game against Colorado was presumed ace Yovani Gallardo, but his season has been a disaster. He will be activated off the disabled list to start Saturday's game. Gallardo (8-9, 4.91) hasn't pitched since July 30. The team was hoping to trade him before July 31, but his ineffectiveness killed that chance. It's clear Milwaukee is trying to help Gallardo's confidence. It was thought he wouldn't be ready to return until Tuesday against St. Louis. However, he's 1-10 with a 6.78 ERA career against the Cards. He's a bit better against Cincinnati at 6-6 with a 4.53 ERA. Gallardo is 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA against the Reds this year.
Gallardo could be just what Ludwick needs as he is 7-for-20 with three homers and nine RBI -- a whopping 1.308 OPS -- in his career off Gallardo. Jay Bruce also owns Gallardo, going for 13-for-32 with two homers and nine RBI. Joey Votto is hitting .276 with a homer and 10 knocked in.
The Reds counter with right-hander Mat Latos (12-3, 3.04). He was dominant last time out, blanking the Cubs on eight hits over six innings, striking out nine. It was his second straight game not allowing a run, and Latos has given up just five total in his past five starts to see his ERA drop a half-point. He leads NL starters in winning percentage. You never know, if Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw suddenly struggles or gets hurt, Latos could steal the Cy Young.
Latos had one of his worst starts of the year May 11 at home against Milwaukee, allowing seven runs and nine hits -- two home runs -- in six innings. He actually got the win and is 2-2 with 3.32 ERA all-time against Milwaukee. Aramis Ramirez, recently off the DL himself, is 6-for-19 with five RBI in his career against Latos. Gomez, on the off chance he plays, is 6-for-12 with two homers. Jean Segura, one Brewers bright spot this year, is 4-for-7 with a dinger.
Reds at Brewers MLB Betting Odds and Trends
At BetOnline, the Reds opened at -142 and the Brewers +132 with a total of 8. All trends entering Friday: Cincinnati is 56-61-4 “over/under” (27-33-3 on road) and 59-62 on the runline. Milwaukee is 59-60-2 O/U (30-29 at home) and 55-66 on the runline.
The Reds are 6-1 in their past seven against right-handed starters. Cincinnati is 7-0 in Latos' past seven Saturday starts. It is 8-3 in his past 11 starts in Game 3 of a series. The Brewers are 8-3 in their past 11 Saturday games. The Brewers are 8-22 in their past 30 Game 3s. Milwaukee is 2-6 in Gallardo's past eight home starts. It is 1-7 in his past eight starts against teams with a winning record. The under is 4-1-1 in Latos' past six road starts. The under is 9-1 in Milwaukee's past 10 against the NL Central. The over is 13-3 in Gallardo's past 16 home starts against teams with a winning record. The over is 4-0 in Gallardo's past four at home against Cincinnati.
MLB Picks: Reds at Brewers Betting Predictions
With likely no Gomez, it will essentially be a Triple-A lineup against a very hot pitcher in Latos. In fact, if you compare the likely lineups Saturday, the only Brewers starter who likely would crack Cincinnati's lineup is Segura. Maybe Ramirez if salaries don't matter. Take the Reds, also at +115 on the runline, and the under. Something like a 5-1 win behind Latos.
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