Many would have to guess a few times to get to the Cincinnati Reds as having the best record in baseball this year. They’ll look to extend that lead at the expense of the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday night for MLB betting action at the Great American Ballpark.
Last year, the Pirates went out and made some moves at the trade deadline to try to stay relevant, and they ended up finishing below .500 once again. This year though, matters look a lot different. There are already 60 wins on the board, and finishing above .500 only requires a 22-35 record the rest of the way. The team is still relatively comfortably in one of the two Wild Card spots right now, but a sub-.500 record on the road is a harsh reminder of just how quickly things can change. James McDonald has come a long way over the course of the last few years for the Pirates, but over the course of his last four starts, he has been terrible. The righty might have a 10-5 mark and a 3.38 ERA, but he has allowed 21 runs and has walked a whopping 19 batters in his last four outings, lasting a total of 20.2 innings. Needless to say, that just isn’t going to cut it. The good news though, is that McDonald is 5-1 with a 2.31 ERA in his career against the Reds.
Of course, not a whole heck of a lot more could be said about Mike Leake, who is going to be on the bump for Manager Dusty Baker to start this weekend. Leake is either great or awful. His last start, he allowed five runs in just 1.2 innings before getting the hook. The start before, he allowed just two runs in eight frames. Trusting Leake is tough to do for sure, especially with just 79 strikeouts on the year. Batters are hitting .285 against the righty this year, and that’s why his WHIP has ballooned up to 1.35. A 4.44 ERA is the epitome of average. Remember that 1B Joey Votto is still out of the lineup as well. It is amazing to think just how well Cincinnati has played in this stretch to open up a lead in the NL Central though, and that is a lead that the team hopes to see grow quickly.
Neither of these pitchers have been all that great of late, but the difference for the Reds is that they have a dynamite bullpen that only got stronger at the deadline with the addition of Jonathan Broxton. That’s why we’ll go with the hosts to make life a bit more difficult on the Pirates, as the visitors slink one game closer to being out of the playoffs once again. Cincinnati 8 – Pittsburgh 5