Featured Video from Scott Reichel
Where: Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati Ohio
When: Monday, May 27, 2019 1:10pm Eastern
We have a National League Central matchup to consider when the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds meet under partly cloudy skies and temps in the mid-eighties for game one of a scheduled doubleheader. This preview is written prior to the conclusion of Sunday’s MLB action and all opinions are based on the stats from the conclusion of Saturday night’s MLB contests.
Pittsburgh is third in the NL Central and is undecided as to who will start this baseball game so we will likely see an “opener” followed up by the Pirates bullpen. Cincinnati is last in the Central division and plans on sending righty Luis Castillo out to the bump on Monday afternoon. I’m the Flash and will be discussing this contest with you today.
Josh Bell Hitting .341 This Season
The Pirates are a middle of the pack MLB club this season but one of the bright spots has been the play of first baseman Josh Bell. Bell is batting .341 on the year with 16 home runs and 47 RBI to go along with a .407 OBP this season. The problem is that it hasn’t been enough but perhaps when Corey Dickerson, Jung ho Chang and Lonnie Chisenhall return in mid-June from injury, the Pirates can whittle down their minus 55 run differential and put up some big numbers this season.
— Pirates (@Pirates) May 26, 2019
Aside from the injuries previously mentioned, the Pirates are listing catcher Francisco Cervelli as doubtful for Sunday with concussion-like symptoms. Cervelli is the Pirates everyday catcher and has pedestrian numbers this season.
Pittsburgh will likely start an opener and we don’t know who that is or who else the Pirates have in mind to pitch against the Reds for game one. The bullpen ranks 16th in MLB with a 4.57 ERA but their 4.33 xFIP suggests the fellas in the pen may have been a bit unlucky this season. This bullpen has been shaky in the later innings and has blown eight of its 23 save opportunities this season.
Cincinnati is a middle of the road offense at home this season with a 24 percent strikeout rate the bullpen and its 10.17 strikeouts per nine innings pitched should be able to handle quite well on Monday. Where the Pirates could get into trouble is dealing with the Reds 9.7 percent walk rate, .321 OBP and .201 ISO. Pirates relievers walk 4.23 and 1.22 bombs allowed per nine innings pitched and could be in big trouble on Monday afternoon.
Reds Pitching Staff Second Best ERA in National League
The Cincinnati Reds are one of eight National League clubs with a positive run differential and the main reason for this is the pitching staff because the Reds don’t hit the baseball very well at this point of the season. Cincinnati has the second-best ERA in the National League along with the second-best bullpen in all of baseball. First baseman Joey Votto shoulders much of the blame for the miserable offense and has gone from a career .300 hitter to a .226 hitter seemingly overnight. Until the Reds figure out how to score some runs, they will continue to reside in the last place in the NL Central.
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) May 26, 2019
Cincinnati isn’t listing any significant injuries going into Sunday’s game with the Chicago Cubs.
Castillo (5-1, 2.38 ERA) is a large part of what the Reds pitching staff has done right and has pitched five innings or more in nine of his ten starts and is coming off a rocky start against the Brewers in Milwaukee. Castillo has a 2.38 ERA but his 3.21 xFIP suggests maybe Castillo has been a bit lucky this season. Castillo strikes out 10.91 per nine with 3.92 walks and less than a bomb allowed per nine innings pitched.
Pittsburgh is a bottom ten offense against righties this season and their 25 percent strikeout rate should play right into Castillo’s nearly 11 strikeouts per game. Pittsburgh does have an eight percent walk rate and .313 OBP paired with a .156 ISO and Castillo better be careful with the four walks he allows otherwise we could see a three-run bomb or two on Monday afternoon.
- Reds are 8-2 in Castillo’s last 10 starts during game 1 of a series.
- ‘Reds are 9-3 in Castillo’s last 12 home starts vs. a team with a winning record.
- Reds are 13-5 in Castillo’s last 18 home starts.
- Pirates are 1-4 in their last 5 overall.
- Pirates are 1-4 in their last 5 games on grass.
- Pirates are 0-5 in their last 5 during game 1 of a series.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I’m a big believer in Luis Castillo and I suspect he will look to have a big night after laying his lone stinker of the season in his last start against the Brewers. Cincy has some big sluggers and in a ballpark that surrenders runs and bombs like Great American Ball Park has this season, I’m not sure the Pirates bullpen is sharp enough to keep the Reds from plating runs. Cash with the Flash and play the Reds to beat the Pirates on Monday afternoon.
Full-Game Total Pick
We don’t have a total yet but we have some big sluggers featured in this series and I suspect there will be some runs scored and that works for us as we Cash with the Flash by playing the over on Monday afternoon. Three of their five previous meetings combined for eight runs or more and I think that will be the case on Monday afternoon. Let’s not forget the Pirates bullpen has blown eight saves and that means they allow runs to cross the plate. Cash with the Flash by playing the over on Monday afternoon.