Wednesday MLB Preview – Reds at Pirates

The first-place Reds are in position to win another series as they play the final game of a three-game set at PNC Park.

Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates

Cincinnati fell 7-6 in the second game of this three-game set against the Pirates in Pittsburgh, but the club has still won five of its last eight games.  It’s also important to note that the Reds are 9-1-1 in their previous 11 series, including 4-0-1 in their first five series of the second half.  The team hasn’t made the playoffs since 1995 and haven’t finished above .500 since 2000, currently features the NL’s top lineup and best defense.  “This is why I came here, for this point and purpose,” manager Dusty Baker said.  All-Star first baseman Joey Votto didn’t start for a second straight game on Tuesday with a sprained wrist.  Cincinnati is a dominating 30-17 against division opponents this season and the total is 21-22 O/U in those games.  In 36 day games, the Reds have compiled an even 18-18 mark and the total is 10-21 O/U.

Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto is 10-2 with a 3.32 ERA in 21 starts this season and is coming in with a personal four-game winning streak since June 23.  The right-hander is a solid 5-1 with a 2.79 ERA in 11 road starts.  He made five July starts, posting a perfect 2-0 record and 2.01 ERA, surrendering two home runs in 31.1 innings.  Wednesday will mark just his fifth daytime start, going 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA, allowing opponents to hit for a combined .301 average.  In 11 career starts versus the Pirates, Cueto is a fantastic 8-2 with a 3.00 ERA, including an 8-2 home victory on May 27.  He tossed six shutout innings and gave up three hits while striking out nine in that contest.

Pittsburgh hadn’t scored more than six runs since a 15-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on July 21 until last night’s victory.  The Pirates had also gone 22 straight meetings with the Reds before last scoring six-plus runs in a game.  “The guys really came out and swung the bats and scored,” manager John Russell said.  “We tried to let them back in it a little, but we finished it off.”  Outfielder Andrew McCutchen may miss the series finale, after leaving Tuesday’s game with a bruised neck.  The team is 23-26 at home this season (+300) and 102-109 over the last three years (+420).  Pittsburgh is also 11-19 in day games (-420) and the total stands at 16-13 O/U in those contests.

Pirates starting pitcher Jeff Karstens is 2-6 with a 4.42 ERA in 20 appearances (14 starts) this season, with the club dropping four straight games with him on the mound.  Over that span, he has allowed 11 runs (nine earned) and 22 hits in 23 innings of work.  The right-hander is an even 2-2 with a 4.61 ERA in nine home outings (six starts), managing to strike out 25 batters and issue just nine walks in 41 frames.  Karstens will be toeing the rubber for just his fourth daytime outing, going 0-1 with a 6.50 ERA, while opposing batters are hitting for a .347 average (.280 night).  In six lifetime appearances (three starts) against the Reds, he is 0-3 with a 6.45 ERA, surrendering five home runs in 22.1 frames.

Bettors will want to check the lineups and find out if Votto gets the start, as the Reds are 42-32 against right-handed starters this season (+930).  The Pirates are on the other side of the spectrum when facing righties, producing a dismal 21-51 mark (-2,080).

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