An exciting set of weekend series commence tonight across the MLB landscape. You have the traditional rivalries like the Yankees and Red Sox, and the Cubs and Cardinals (who suddenly find themselves just two games back of the Pirates…and a ½ game ahead of the Reds). You also have the upstart and streaking Royals trying to make one last desperate push to get close to the Tigers with three more head to head games (they lost last night), as well as a pair of wild-card hopefuls meeting in Oakland and Cleveland.
It should be a great weekend of baseball, and along with some great games, I’ll be looking to end my personal losing skid and get back on track.
For tonight’s pick, let’s focus on one of the hottest under-the-radar teams in the contentious NL Central, the Cincinnati Reds.
Cincinnati Reds -129 at Milwaukee Brewers +120 (Total: 8)
Mike Leake (10-5, 2.86 ERA) vs. Tom Gorzelanny (3-4, 2.51 ERA)
I was burned once recently by a rare terrible Mike Leake outing, but as tonight he is facing ANYONE other than the Cardinals, I am not scared away from backing him once again. Sandwiched around his disastrous St. Louis escapade he has a pair of excellent starts; allowing just one run in 14 innings. I expect him to be on his top form again tonight, facing a Milwaukee lineup that will be without Carlos Gomez who injured himself making a dazzling catch last night, and of course, without Ryan Braun. The result is a pretty punchless Brewer lineup given the injuries to Corey Hart and Ricky Weeks for the season.
The Reds enter tonight winners of five straight and six of their last seven. They have pulled to within 2 ½ games of division leading Pittsburgh, and are starting to get healthy at the right time. Ryan Ludwick is back from an opening day injury that sidelined him for more than 110 games, and set-up man Jonathan Broxton is back to fortify an already solid bullpen. Look for Leake to give them another quality start tonight, then hand the ball over to a shut-down bullpen.
Milwaukee meanwhile has the second-worst record in the National League and their injuries and suspensions just keep mounting. Gorzelanny has pitched well this season in limited action (just 70 innings), but the Reds hitters know him well from his many years in Pittsburgh, and should be able to give Leake enough runs to notch a win.
I like the Reds at a pretty decent value of -129, but I also see this game staying UNDER the 8 run mark. I’m doubling-up tonight and taking both.
Free Picks: Cincinnati Reds to WIN -129 & Run TOTAL UNDER 8