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Coach Fletcher’s Tuesday MLB 3* Pick

4:10 pm Pittsburgh Pirates at Cincinnati Reds

The Pick Pittsburgh Pirates -112

Pirates Look to Bounce Back at Cincy – Cubs Are Closing In

After losing the opener in their three game series, the Pirates lead over the Cubs is down to 2 games. Francisco Liriano will try to keep that spread by beating the Reds tonight.

The Pitchers

Liriano, Pirates

Francisco Liriano finally lost a game last week. It was his first loss since June 20. There are still some concerns about Liriano however because his August era (4.94) is more than double his July era (2.03). Liriano is 9-7 on the year with a 3.40 era. He has an excellent 2.67 era on the road but has only gone 1-1 with a 3.86 era in his last 3. It appears that he is on a slight path to improvement however because in his last 7 starts his era is a sizeable 4.97 even with a 3-1 record behind him. In his last start at Milwaukee, Liriano gave up 7 hits and 4 runs in just 7 innings. He has had definite control issues in his last 2 starts walking 7. Liriano is 4-6 with a 3.84 era at night. LH are hitting just .203 against him and RH are hitting .224. Liriano has had success getting Reds’ batters out, but not winning games against them. He’s just 1-5 overall even though his era is just 3.69. He has lost his last 3 starts against the Reds. In his one start this year he went 7 innings against the Reds and gave up 2 hits and 2 runs. Pittsburgh seems to rise up for Liriano winning 11 of his last 12 starts.

Raisel Iglesias, Reds

Iglesias is only 306 but has pitched much better than his record would indicate. His era is 3.63. Since August 1 he’s had 7 straight quality starts and has had double-digit strikeouts in his past 3 starts. In his last 3 starts his era is 2.57. He has a 2.80 mark at home. Iglesias is 1-0 against the Bucs with a 2.70 era. In his one start versus the Pirates this year he gave up 2 runs on 4 hits in 6 2/3 innings. In his last start he gave up 2 runs on 3 hits and walked 3 against Chicago and received a no decision.

The Bullpens

Pirates – 3.07 on road ; 46 saves, 12 blown saves

Reds – 3.63 at home ; 29 saves, 17 blown saves

The pitching match-ups are pretty close. Liriano has a bad record against Cincinnati but he has pitched reasonably well against them. Iglesias is pitching extremely well. I’d say Iglesias has the better raw numbers but I like Liriano in this one. The Pirate pen also has an edge.

The Hitters

Pirates

The Pirates average 4.2 runs per game which is just 0.2 higher than the Reds. Their overall average is .260 which is 10 points higher than Cincinnati. The Bucs are hitting .257 on the road where they score an average of 4.3 runs per game – identical to Cincy’s road total. They average .257 against RHP and score 4.2 runs per game against them. The Pirate hitters have been slumping in the last 7 games where they are scoring just 3.6 runs per game and hitting only .237. The Bucs score 4.3 in night games and hit .263. In division they have struggled, only scoring 3.9 runs and hitting .244. The Pirates are 24th in MLB HR per game at 0.85. They are 12th in on base % at .322. In limited at bats 4 Pirates are hitting over .300 versus Iglesias.

Reds

The Reds average 4.0 runs per game and overall are hitting .250. At home they score an average of 4.3 and hit .257. They score only 3.9 runs per game vs LHP while hitting .250. They have been hot lately averaging 6.0 runs per game and hitting .289. After the being shut out in back to back games they scored 13 runs in 2 games against the Brewers and an amazing 24 runs in 3 games against the Cubs. The Reds score just 4.2 runs per game at night and hitting .252. They hit .247 against division foes and score 4.2 runs per game. They are 10th in MLB with 1.06 HR per game. They are 16th in on base % at .315. The current Red line-up does not do well versus Liriano. Todd Frazier carries the highest average at just .250. Jay Bruce is hitting 0.56, Brandon Phillips is .214 and Joey Votto is .200.

Odds and Ends

Pirates

Pittsburgh is getting uncomfortable atop the NL Wild Card standings with the Cubs just 2 behind them. Part of the problem they face is right in front of them – the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds are 30-23 against Pittsburgh the past 3 seasons. They are 6-2 against the Bucs this season at Cincinnati. The Reds are 10-4 against the Pirates this season and 16-11 against them at Cincinnati the past 3 years. Pittsburg is too good a team to be worked by the Reds.

The Pirates are 80-55 this season. They allow just 3.7 runs per game while the Reds allow 4.5. They have a 0.5 run differential per game. With the total 8/8.5 they are 17-9. The Pirates are 34-34 on the road. They have started September 1-5. They are surprisingly deficient against division opponents. We can understand having problems with St. Louis – everyone does. But the Reds? The Bucs are 57-41 at night. The Bucs are 64-41 against RHP. They are 52-36 vs teams with losing records.

Reds

The Reds are 57-79 on the season. They allow 4.5 runs per game and have a MINUS run differential of 0.5. That is a big negative since Pittsburg is at a plus 0.5. With a total of 8/8.5 they are 16-28. As a home dog of +100/+125 they are 7-12. They have a losing record of 31-37 at home. At home when the total is 8/8.5 they are 11-19. They are 3-3 in September. Against division opponents the Reds are 26-31. Here is where it gets dicey for the Reds. Cincy is 43-50 at night. More bad news for the Reds. They are 14-20 versus LHP. They are 36-50 against teams with winning records.

Coach’s Conclusion:

This game sets up nicely for the Pirates to start another push. Of course, yesterday’s game did as well as the Reds pounced on the Pirates for a 3-1 win. There is nothing in the Odds and Ends suggesting that the Reds have a chance other than their domination of the Pirates in the past 3 years. That can’t be forgotten, but the edges for Pittsburgh seem sufficient for a win at a reasonable price here. I’m taking the Bucs at a very low price here.

The Pick Pirates – 112