After Tuesday’s win over the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Cincinnati Reds moved to 24-26 and just one-half game back in the NL Wildcard race with 10 games to go. With the 4-1 victory, the Reds moved to 6-3 head-to-head against the Pirates while extending their win streak to four games. Suddenly, the red-hot Reds are close to the final wildcard spot, currently occupied by the Giants. The Reds are also fighting with the Rockies, Brewers, and Mets for the final spot, which adds tremendous intrigue to the final ten regular season games of 2020.
The Reds do have several advantages going into their final stretch. First, the duo of Trevor Bauer and Luis Castillo are two of the best pitchers in the National League. Sonny Gray, who was recently added to the IL for back spasms, could be back from a back strain next week. Nick Senzel just recently made his return from the IL, which should give a boost to a lineup that is suddenly catching fire. Despite those advantages, the Reds will have to face the White Sox (AL’s best record) and the Twins sandwiched around a series with the Brewers.
For Pittsburgh, their miserable 2020 season is almost done. There is not much to highlight as the team is currently on a seven-game losing streak. But, the final ten games presents a tremendous opportunity to evaluate young talent for 2021, and to evaluate veterans to see if they will be trade pieces or organizational cornerstones. Above all else, the Pirates will try to salvage a game and prevent a four-game sweep to the Reds.
Pirates Try to Avoid SweepPittsburgh will send rookie JT Brubaker to the mound in hopes of avoiding a four-game sweep to the Reds. Brubaker was not sharp in his last start, allowing seven runs and seven hits over 5.1 innings in a loss to the Cubs. Despite the start, Brubaker has posted a respectable 4.19 FIP, a 1.484 WHIP, and a 9.5 K/9 rate.
One of the biggest problems has been the offense, which is dead last in the majors in scoring. The team has suffered to a .213/.274/.356 over the past seven games, although those numbers would be much worse without Josh Bell’s .480/.519/.880 performance over the past week. Bell also posted a 1.399 OPS with three home runs over that span. No Pirate hitter has notable splits against right-handers or on the road and will be taking on a pitcher in Luis Castillo who has excellent swing and miss stuff.
Reds Look to Complete Sweep, Eye PlayoffsThe Cincinnati Reds are finally playing the way they expected all season. The Reds now have won four games in a row, and six of their last 10 games. This marks one of the better-sustained stretches this season for the Reds, who are concentrating on claiming the final wildcard spot in the National League. One Red that has been particularly hot recently is Shogo Akiyama, who has slashed .360/.515/.400 over the past seven games. Joey Votto has hit really well at home, posting a .368/.482/.765 slash line with a 1.247 OPS and eight home runs at the Great American Ballpark.
Luis Castillo gets the start, coming off his best effort of the season. In his last game, Castillo pitched a complete game gem against St. Louis, allowing just one run on two hits with eight strikeouts. The last time Castillo faced Pittsburgh, he recorded a win by pitching six innings and giving up just two runs on seven hits with eight strikeouts.
- Cincinnati: 5-1 in their last six games
- Cincinnati: 6-3 in 2020 against Pittsburgh
- Pittsburgh: 0-7 last seven games
- Pittsburgh: 2-6 in last eight games against Cincinnati
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I like Cincinnati in this one. Luis Castillo presents all sorts of issues for the Pirates with his superior swing and miss stuff. The Pirates outside of Josh Bell have limited offense, which should allow Castillo to find an early rhythm. The other matchup also favors Cincinnati, as the Reds offense should get multiple run scoring opportunities early against rookie JT Brubaker.
Prediction: Cincinnati -1.5
Full-Game Total Pick
The 8.5 total indicates that one of the teams will not be able to score well in this one. That should be Pittsburgh, whose anemic offense should struggle against Castillo. On the other hand, the Reds could score 7-8 runs against Brubaker and the Pirates staff. The trends are inconsequential, even though the total is OVER in nine of the last 13 Reds home games, and in four of the last six games played in Cincinnati between the Reds and Pirates.
Prediction: OVER 8.5