MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Giants vs. Reds: Betting Value on Underdog Cincinnati (May 20)

MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Giants vs. Reds: Betting Value on Underdog Cincinnati (May 20) article feature image
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Ezra Shaw/Getty Images. Pictured: Johnny Cueto.

  • The Cincinnati Reds will host the San Francisco Giants for some afternoon baseball on Thursday.
  • The Giants send Johnny Cueto — who has struggled to find his form since the beginning of the season — to the mound, while the Reds counter with Tyler Mahle.
  • Jeff Hicks thinks the wrong team is favored in this matchup, and he explains why with his betting pick and breakdown below.

Giants vs. Reds Odds

Giants Odds +120
Reds Odds -140
Over/Under 9 (-105 / -115)
Time 12:35 p.m. ET
TV YouTube
Odds updated Tuesday morning and via PointsBet.

The Giants look to continue their unexpected run atop the NL West when they take on the Reds on Thursday.

Despite one of the better home-field advantages, the Reds are barely a .500 team at home and continue to toil under .500 in a weak NL Central.

Johnny Cueto and Tyler Mahle faced each other April 14 in San Francisco, with Cueto and the Giants edging out the Reds, 3-0.

I think PointsBet may have this game too one-sided.

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Can Cueto Regain His Form?

San Francisco entered Wednesday with the best record in the National League and an expected win-loss just one game worse than its 26-16 record. The Giants had also taken four out of five games from the Reds and were 6-3 against the NL Central.

Cueto has been slow to regain the momentum from his strong start to the season after missing nearly one month with a lat strain. However, it is nice to see that the veteran only has one start with a home run allowed (two total) in a little over 27 innings of work. His BABIP has overcorrected from his fast start and now sits at .329 — respectable, but not ideal. His hard-hit percentage is also up as a result of his career-low groundball rate.

The trouble with being a fly-ball pitcher in a hitter’s park is home runs. The Reds own the best Home Run-to-Fly Ball ratio (HR/FB) at home against right-handed pitching, and Cueto is not going to blow away batters with velocity (92.1 mph fastball).

Where Cueto will have to win against hitters is with his slider and changeup, his two best pitches, according to Pitch Value.

The Giants’ offense is the definition of pesky.

They are league average with a 93 Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) on the road against righties and boast an acceptable .273 BABIP.

What the Giants do well on the road is hit for power. They have a top-10 Hard Hit Percentage (Hard %) and the best HR/FB on the road against righties. That can come in handy if Cueto struggles once more.

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Reds Struggle Against NL West Opponents

The Reds have won one series in May and own a 6-12 record against NL West opponents. Only the Rockies have a worse winning percentage against the division.

Cincy has also struggled at home, going 10-9, despite positive regression on offense.

The Reds’ pitching staff is a big reason for their home struggles. The collective unit has a 4.81 ERA and an MLB-worst 6.16 ERA against right-handed hitters at the friendly confines of Great American Ball Park.

Mahle has been one of the bright spots for the Reds, posting more outings with zero runs allowed (2) than with 3-plus runs allowed (1). However, he has only two wins to show for it due in part to the Reds’ 25th-ranked bullpen ERA.

The 26-year-old has also had a Coors Field-like effect in his pitching at home; his ERA is 2.27 runs higher and has allowed three more home runs at home in almost fewer innings of work. Mahle’s peripherals are on par with his career averages except for an inflated 87.4 Left on Base Percentage, so something has to give between his career numbers and poor performance at home.

The Reds may be the best home team against right-handers in baseball even if their BABIP is .345 against them. They also get on base at one of the best clips at home, which helps negate some of their strikeout woes.

Giants-Reds Pick

I saved one of the more pertinent stats for my pick. The Giants are 12-4 in days games, while the Reds are 8-9. It also matters that the Giants are 18-11 against righties, and the Reds are 16-19.

I like the Giants as moneyline underdogs on PointsBet at +127.

They have been the better team in a tougher division and have dominated the Reds in their season series. The Giants’ bullpen may have similar issues as the Reds’, but what San Francisco has done to improve in 2021 carries more weight with me than Cincinnati just being a better hitting team.

Pick: Giants ML +127 (Play to -105)

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