Pirates vs. Reds Game 1 MLB Pick – September 14, 2020

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Although I haven’t been getting out picks as frequently as I would like, that’s going to change moving forward as it’s been a big year so far.

The last time I released picks, I went 2-0-1 to push our record and units higher in what continues to be a profitable 2020 MLB season.

As we hit the stretch run and into the postseason, let’s make sure we stick to the research and keep the good times rolling!

Season Record: 18-9-1

Units: +8.23

Let’s keep up the good work with this free MLB pick featuring the Pirates vs. Reds in Game 1 of today’s twin-bill from Cincinnati!

Pirates vs. Reds Betting Odds

  • Pirates (+218)
  • Reds (-243)
  • Pirates +1.5 (-106)
  • Reds -1.5 (-114)
  • Over 6 (-130)
  • Under 6 (+110)

Pirates vs. Reds MLB Pick Breakdown

Starting Pitching


The Pirates will send right-hander Cody Ponce to the bump in what will amount to his third start and fifth appearance of the season.

That said, it’s just his first outing since September 4 when he hurled four innings of three-run ball against this same Reds club in Cincinnati. Furthermore, it’s only his third outing since August 6 as he’s bounced back and forth from Pittsburgh and the club’s alternate training site.

He’s pitched just 13 innings this season, but the results, more specifically the peripherals, are not all that encouraging.

He’s worked to a 3.46 ERA this season, but also owns a 6.75 FIP, and 5.74 xFIP to go along with a tiny 6.23 K/9. He’s also the owner of a 5.21 SIERA and has stranded a whopping 95.7% of his baserunners allowed this season while allowing a .200 BABIP, both of which are wildly unsustainable figures.

After coming to the Pirates’ organization from the Brewers last season, Ponce posted a 6.00 ERA at Double-A and a 5.30 mark at Triple-A, so there’s not much to write him about for the 26-year-old of late.


Of course, the pitching advantage here goes to the Reds with authority as they send right-hander and NL Cy Young candidate Trevor Bauer to the hill for this one.

Bauer enters this one sporting a tidy 1.74 ERA/2.90 FIP on the season and has punched out opposing batters at a monster 12.37 K/9 clip. There’s probably some regression coming as he too sports a high 87.1% strand rate while allowing a .212 BABIP, both of which are far superior to career norms.

Nonetheless, when you’re punching out hitters at the rate Bauer has, a high strand rate is to be expected.

He’s coming off a terrific outing against the rival Cubs as he turned in 7.2 shutout innings with 10 strikeouts at Wrigley Field last week, one start after pitching six innings of one-run ball with seven strikeouts over these Pirates, but took the tough-luck loss in the process.

In four career starts against the Pirates, Bauer has worked to a 4.04 ERA, but of course he’s pitching on an entirely different level here in 2020.



The matchup for Bauer here is an elite one against the worst offense in baseball versus right-handed pitching.

The Pirates enter this one ranked last in wOBA (.262), OPS (.600) and ISO (.124) against right-handed pitching while their 24.1% K-rate against them could be problematic as well.

For good measure, the Pirates also sport the league’s second-lowest walk rate versus righties at just 6.9%.

They’ve lost three in a row entering this one tonight and have averaged just two runs per game during that stretch after taking an 11-0 shutout drubbing at the hands of the Royals yesterday afternoon.


For the second straight season, the Reds’ offense has largely wasted dominant starting pitching.

That said, they’ve been victims of some horrific batted-ball luck this season.

The Reds rank 19th with a .314 wOBA on the season against right-handed pitching, but that’s largely on the back of some notable power in the form of a 10th-ranked .189 ISO.

If we look into the traditional stats, the Reds rank 27th with a .214 batting average against righties and 23rd with a .316 on-base percentage.

That said, their .249 BABIP against righties is the lowest mark in baseball. It’s especially puzzling – and I’m sure frustrating – for the team given that they are tied for 11th with a 37.3% hard-hit rate against right-handed pitching this season.

The offense scuffled some early in their weekend series with the Cardinals as they scored just four runs across the first two games, but are coming into this one riding an offensive explosion that saw them post 10 runs on St. Louis in Sunday afternoon’s rubber match.



The best department of this 2020 Pirates team is certainly in the bullpen.

I mean, it’s nothing too special but the Pirates’ bullpen has worked to a 15th-ranked 4.39 ERA on the season, but they also rank 11th with a 4.19 FIP and sit fifth with a hefty 10.05 K/9 on the season.

Add it up and the Pirates’ bullpen has been worth 1.5 fWAR this season, good for 13th in the league.

They’ve done so without the services of closer Keone Kela for all but two innings on the season, but the club’s most effective relievers have been the ones throwing the most innings as Chris Stratton, Richard Rodriguez, Nick Tropeano and Geoff Hartlieb have all worked to an ERA of 3.57 or lower while pitching at least 13.1 innings this season.


The Reds’ bullpen was costing them dearly early in the season, wasting some excellent starts from the three-headed monster of Sonny Gray, Bauer and Luis Castillo in that starting rotation.

While their numbers still aren’t great on the season – they sit 24th with a 5.06 ERA but also 13th with a 4.51 FIP – they have certainly been far better of late.

Over the last two weeks, the Reds’ bullpen ranks 12th with a 4.03 ERA and 4.17 FIP, working to similar results as the highly regarded ‘pens of the Rays and Brewers during that time.

For the season, they have racked up strikeouts at an 11.00 K/9 cliP, but have struggled with walks (4.02 BB/9) and home runs (1.39 HR/9).

They will need to continue to see improved results from their bullpen if they want to make a mad dash into a postseason spot in the NL Central.

Pirates vs. Reds MLB Pick

To me, this one is all about starting pitching and there is just a monumental advantage here with the Reds.

Few pitchers in baseball have been better than Bauer this season. In fact, you can count them on one hand.

Only once in his eight starts this season has Bauer allowed more than three earned runs in a start and only twice has he allowed more than one. Think about that last one. He’s allowed one earned run or fewer in six of eight starts, but a lack of run support and bullpen woes have him sitting with a 4-3 record that is in no way an accurate depiction of his personal performance.

Whether there is enough time in the season for Cincinnati’s batted-ball luck to turn around remains to be seen. That said, a matchup with Ponce at the hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati is a recipe for improved results on offense.

Add in the improved bullpen and I see the Reds taking it to the Pirates in this one.

I was pleasantly surprised by the Reds’ run line price here, so I’m going to hop all over that one tonight.

The Bet
REDS -1.5
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Brenton Kemp / Author

Brenton is a lifelong sports fan who resides in Ontario, Canada. Brenton is a fan of most all sports but specializes in hockey, baseball, football, basketball, and golf. He’s a fierce researcher with a strong appetite to deliver accurate and relevant facts that in turn have led to past success with picks and DFS advice across the board. Brenton’s biggest goal is to deliver readers with the picks and advice that can build their bankroll. He takes great pride in his success and loves nothing more than to share that success for the benefit of everyone involved.