Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates (Total: 7)
Johnny Cueto (3-0, 1.36 ERA) vs. Kevin Correia (1-1, 2.42 ERA)
Statistically, tonight is a matchup between two of the worst hitting teams in the National League an two of the best pitching teams. The Reds have a slightly better record, but have slightly worse splits in both team batting average and team ERA. However, they do have an edge in very important category; while their runs for/against is almost flat (-0.08), the Pirates is one of the league’s worst at -0.73. This means that the Reds, while still not hitting well, are doing more with the runners they get on base and generating more long balls.
In order for the Pirates to get a win tonight, they are going to have to make the most of every baserunner they can muster, because Cincinnati starter Johnny Cueto has been absolutely filthy so far this season. He enters tonight with a perfect 3-0 record, and a WHIP of just 1.03 to go with his dazzlingly low ERA. Roy Halliday, Cliff Lee, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Steven Strausburg; all get far more national acclaim and recognition than Cueto, but over the past season and a month he has been statistically superior to every one of them. He is the real deal, and has a legitimate chance to be the NL All Star Game starting pitcher if he keeps it up.
The Pirates are throwing a solid starter as well. Kevin Correia has struggled the past two seasons; one in San Diego and the last in Pittsburgh, but so far this season he has been excellent. A big reason why is his improved control and command of the strikezone. Historically he walks about two batters for each one he strikes out. This season he is closer to the 1:1 ratio you’d prefer to see at a minimum from your starting pitchers. The Reds tend to be a strikeout prone team, so expect that ratio to improve tonight.
If forced to pick a winner tonight, I’d lean Cincy with Cueto on the mound, however at -140 I’m not real wild about the value in that pick. They aren’t swinging the bats nearly well enough to take the runline -1.5 flyer, but there is still a wager I like in tonight’s game. Both teams are slumping offensively, and both teams are throwing hot starters against those struggling lineups. This feels like a game where both teams will struggle to scratch out more than 2 or 3 runs. That makes the UNDER 7 a nice play tonight.
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