Game time: 6:35 p.m. ET
Venue: PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
Where to watch: Bally Sports Ohio, AT&T SportsNet-PIT
Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks
DraftKings: Reds -155, Pirates +135
Reds: 75-69 (2nd place, National League Central)
Pirates: 52-91 (Last place, NL Central)
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Reds - Pirates preview and analysis
Reds: 4-6 in last 10
Pirates: 4-6 in last 10
The Cincinnati Reds are over here hanging by a thread.
Somehow, despite losing two of three to the St. Louis Cardinals over the weekend, their fifth series loss in a row, the Reds still find themselves with the second wild-card spot in the National League.
But the window has closed slightly. The Reds are virtually tied with the San Diego Padres, and the Cardinals have now found themselves one game back of the Reds. This is all while the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets are also in striking distance.
So now the pressure is on the Reds to put a nice finishing touch on what would be a storybook season. But first, they need to put a finish on this nine-game road trip with a three-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates with Game 1 on Tuesday in Pittsburgh.
The Reds are coming in after losing two straight to the surging Cardinals, who needed only two runs on three hits for the 2-0 win. The lone runs came in the bottom of the first on a 389-foot homer from Nolan Arenado. Outside of that, Sonny Gray pitched well (7 IP, 2 ER, 6 strikeouts, 1 BB), but not as good as veteran J.A. Happ. The Cardinals pitcher threw 5.1 innings of scoreless baseball and striking out four in 82 pitches on the mound.
More importantly, Happ silenced the heart of the Reds’ order. Joey Votto and Nick Castellanos combined to go 0-for-7 and struck out four times. In the two losses, the Reds combined for four runs on 11 hits; all four runs came on two two-run homers in the third inning on Saturday.
While the Reds are fighting for their playoff lives, the Pirates are still fighting for relevancy with the season winding down. This three-game series will wrap up a nine-game homestand for the Pirates, in which Pittsburgh won the first two series against the Detroit Tigers and Washington Nationals. Pittsburgh won the first two games of each series before losing the finale in each.
The Pirates scored 10 runs Saturday in a 10-7 win that saw them score seven runs in the fifth and sixth innings combined, rallying from a 5-2 deficit. Pittsburgh All-Star Bryan Reynolds went 2-for-3 with a homer and three RBI on Saturday and followed that with an RBI on Sunday, but Patrick Corbin mowed down the Pirates lineup in a 6-2 win.
In the start of what will be many must-win games for the Reds, they will turn to ace Wade Miley to face Pirates left-hander Dillon Peters on Tuesday. Miley leads the Reds with 12 wins and a starters-best 2.89 ERA, but he’s been just as great away from Great American Ball Park -- the left-handed starter is 5-2 on the road with a 2.91 ERA while holding opponents to a .218 batting average.
Tasked with throwing first pitch for the Pirates, Peters is 0-2 with a 3.38 ERA and a WHIP of 1.29 in four starts this season.
When in doubt, even though all the struggles, the Reds turning to their best pitcher is a safe play here. The Pirates having played well in series openers as of late gives reason to think Pittsburgh should win, but let’s see how Miley does before officially throwing dirt on the Reds’ grave. Reds win 5-3.
The Reds are 8-7 (-2.6 net games on the moneyline) this season when a road favorite of -125 or more. Miley is 7-0 when the Reds are favored between -125 and -175.
The Pirates are 44-86 (-17.7 net games) when an underdog this season.
Players to watch
Reds: We haven’t talked much about Nick Castellanos as of late, but we should view him as a reason why Cincy has made this run. In his last 25 games, Castellanos is batting .313 with eight homers and 18 RBI.
Pirates: Bryan Reynolds continues to be one of the lone brightspots for the Pirates offensively. In his last seven games, Reynolds is averaging over an RBI per game and has hit two home runs.
Jonathan India (R) 2B
Tyler Stephenson (R) C
Nick Castellanos (R) RF
Joey Votto (L) 1B
Eugenio Suarez (R) SS
Aristides Aquino (R) LF
Asdrubal Cabrera (S) 3B
Delino DeShields (R) CF
Wade Miley (L) P
Ke'Bryan Hayes (R) 3B
Kevin Newman (R) SS
Bryan Reynolds (S) CF
Colin Moran (L) 1B
Jacob Stallings (R) C
Wilmer Difo (S) 2B
Anthony Alford (R) LF
Ben Gamel (L) RF
Dillon Peters (L) P
Batting average: Nick Castellanos (.315)
Hits: Nick Castellanos (147)
Home runs: Joey Votto (30)
RBI: Joey Votto (87)
Stolen bases: Jonathan India (9)
Wins: Wade Miley (12)
Saves: Three tied (7)
ERA: Wade Miley (2.89)
Batting average: Bryan Reynolds (.299)
Hits: Bryan Reynolds (150)
Home runs: Bryan Reynolds (23)
RBI: Bryan Reynolds (85)
Stolen bases: Gregory Polanco (14)
Wins: JT Brubaker (5)
Saves: Chris Stratton (4)
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