Baseball Predictions: Pirates at Reds Odds and Picks
by Alan Matthews - 9/26/2013
The last time we saw the Pittsburgh Pirates in the postseason, former Pirate and slow-footed Atlanta Brave Sid Bream was sliding under a throw from some Pittsburgh left fielder named Barry Bonds to score the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning on Oct. 14, 1992 at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. It completed the Braves' rally from a 2-0 deficit in the ninth -- clearly Pirates ace starter Doug Drabek shouldn't have started that inning -- and sent Atlanta to the World Series. It was Pittsburgh's third straight NLCS loss.
The last time we saw the Pirates play a home postseason game was Oct. 11 of that series, with Pittsburgh beating Atlanta 7-1 at Three Rivers Stadium behind a terrific game from pitcher Bob Walk, who threw a complete-game three-hitter. Braves starter Steve Avery didn't make it out of the first inning. That kept Pittsburgh alive, chopping the Braves' series lead to 3-2.
I mention all this because the Pirates will return to the playoffs again this year, almost assuredly as a wild-card team with St. Louis having a magic number of one to win the NL Central. I have no dog in this fight, but I'd love for the Pirates to at least be able to host that wild-card game against Cincinnati early next week just in case Pittsburgh is one-and-done. The city and that beautiful PNC Park deserve to have baseball that matters, even for a game.
Well, if the Pirates win Friday night's season opener against the Reds, they will take a gigantic step toward hosting that game. Pittsburgh leads Cincinnati by a game for home-field advantage in the wild-card matchup. The tiebreaker should the teams finish tied would be head-to-head record. They enter this series 8-8 against one another, so it all comes down to this weekend. Good stuff.
Pirates at Reds Betting Story Lines
It's a good thing the season isn't a month longer as Pittsburgh might cough this away as it is a .500 team since August. The offense was a question mark all season and has gone missing this month. The Pirates are hitting only .232 while averaging around 3.5 runs in September. The bullpen has had a change at closer as Mark Melancon blew two saves recently and was replaced earlier this week by all-star Jason Grilli. He was arguably the NL's best closer before getting hurt and missing about six weeks. Grilli has converted his past two saves. It might also be concerning that presumed wild-card starter Francisco Liriano hasn't won any of his past three starts. But once you get in the postseason, it's a clean slate, and we've seen many average teams get hot and win it all.
Pittsburgh starts right-hander A.J. Burnett (9-11, 3.39) on Friday. It's conceivably his final start in a Pirates uniform as he is a free agent this offseason and might actually retire. “I do want to go out with a bang, and I do want to go out a Pirate,” Burnett has said. He will be 37 in January. Burnett has won double-digit games every year since 2005, so that's on the line. He faced the Reds last time out and allowed two runs and four hits in seven innings while striking out 12 in a 4-2 win. He has alternated wins and losses in each of his past seven starts. Burnett is 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA in three starts overall against Cincinnati. Joey Votto is hitting .429 with two RBI off Burnett this season. Brandon Phillips is at .444 with a homer. Jay Bruce is just 1-for-9 with four strikeouts.
Cincinnati counters with righty Homer Bailey (11-11, 3.40). He was the losing pitcher opposite Burnett last time out, allowing four runs (two earned) and three hits in 5.2 innings. Cincinnati had won his previous four starts. Bailey is 0-2 with a 3.50 ERA in three starts against Pittsburgh. Garrett Jones is 2-for-6 with a homer off Bailey, and Pedro Alvarez also has a dinger. Andrew McCutchen, the presumed NL MVP, has struggled by going 1-for-7 with two strikeouts. McCutchen is hitting .338 in September, however, and is second in the NL with 59 multi-hit games overall.
Pirates at Reds MLB Betting Odds and Trends
At BetOnline, Cincinnati opened at -131 and Pittsburgh +121 with a total of 7. The Pirates are 70-83-6 “over/under” (38-38-2 on the road) and 88-71 on the runline. The Reds are 75-77-7 O/U 35-39-4 at home) and 74-85 on the runline.
The Pirates are 5-2 in their past seven after a loss. They are 1-4 in their past five after an off day. Pittsburgh is 2-7 in Burnett's past nine road starts. It is 0-5 in his past five series-opening starts. The Reds are 6-1 in their past seven against teams with a winning record. Cincinnati has won five of its past seven series openers. The Reds are 9-2 in Bailey's past 11 with five days of rest. They are 5-2 in Bailey's past seven series openers. The over has hit in nine of Burnett's past 12 road starts against teams with a winning record. The over is 7-1 in Burnett's past eight road starts overall. The over is 11-2 in Cincinnati's past 13 after scoring two runs or fewer in its previous game. The under is 5-2-1 in Bailey's past eight home starts. The Pirates are 3-7 in the past 10 in Cincinnati.
Baseball Predictions: Pirates at Reds Betting Picks
It’s hard to overlook that the Reds have lost all three of Bailey's starts this year against Pittsburgh. Then again, Burnett is just 4-7 with a 4.50 ERA on the road this season. How will the inexperienced Pirates handle the biggest game of their lives so far? I don't trust that offense, even with the additions of Marlon Byrd (.283, two homers, 13 RBI in 28 games with Pirates) and Justin Morneau (.271, no homers in 23 games). Cincinnati and the over it is.
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