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Reds vs. Pirates MLB Odds & Picks: Monday’s Betting Value On Pittsburgh (May 10)

Reds vs. Pirates MLB Odds & Picks: Monday’s Betting Value On Pittsburgh (May 10) article feature image

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images. Pictured: Bryan Reynolds.

  • The NL Central has lived up to its preseason billing as being competitive, with Pittsburgh looking up at four other contenders.
  • The Reds have overachieved at the plate, according to Kevin Davis, while Pittsburgh has been one of the league's worst.
  • The Pirates surprisingly have a strong bullpen that Davis thinks will silence Cincinnati hitters.

Reds vs. Pirates Odds

Reds Odds-153
Pirates Odds+143
Time6:35 p.m. ET
Odds as of Monday afternoon via William Hill.

Going into the season the NL Central was going to be one of the most competitive divisions, and after 20% of games have been played, that prediction has turned out to be true. Other than the Pittsburgh Pirates, every team has a plausible path to winning the division.

That is probably the reason why the Cincinnati Reds are favored to beat the Pirates, despite playing on the road. The Reds are only four games behind the first-place St. Louis Cardinals, and only two games ahead of the last place Pirates. Cincinnati has a 15-16 record and a -4 run differential, so they should win almost half of their games. Pittsburgh has a 14-19 record with a -31 run differential, so they should win about 37.8% of their games.

Generally, a .500-level team like the Reds should beat a .378 level team like the Pirates 62.2% of the time. Cincinnati as -135 favorites (57.4% breakeven odds) appear to be a good value against Pittsburgh. However, both teams have weak starting pitchers on Monday night.

Cincinnati Reds

In 2020, the average MLB team scored 4.65 runs per game. In 2021, the average MLB team scores only 4.38 runs per game, a 5.8% decrease in scoring from 2020. Despite this decrease in scoring, the Cincinnati Reds have scored more runs this season, changing their average of 3.92 runs per game in 2020 to 5.06 runs per game in 2021.

In my opinion the Reds have a below-average lineup. My model projects the Reds to average 4.24 runs per game which is 3.2% fewer runs per game than the average team. This is because OF Nick Castellanos and OF Nick Senzel are both performing better than their preseason projections. Additionally, 1B Joey Votto, SS Eugenio Suárez and 3B Mike Moustakas are playing worse than they should be playing. Once everybody on the Reds lineup reverts to the mean, they should score fewer runs per game.

Another reason why Cincinnati is not as heavily favored as they should be is because of their starting pitcher Jeff Hoffman. Currently Hoffman has a 4.39 ERA which is the lowest of his career that was spent solely with the Colorado Rockies until this season. Even though the Rockies play in the most hitter-friendly park when you adjust for park effects, Hoffman is having his best year ever.

However, Hoffman has never had an xFIP lower than his current 4.61 xFIP in a single season. Hoffman hasn’t been unlucky over the years, he’s just been mediocre. Even though Hoffman should pitch for fewer than five innings, the Reds will be vulnerable as their bullpen has a 4.90 xFIP which is the worst in the league.

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Pittsburgh Pirates

There is not much to say about the Pittsburgh Pirates lineup. In 2020, they averaged only 3.65 runs per game which was the fewest out of all 30 MLB teams. This season Pittsburgh is averaging only 3.44 runs per game.

While my model recognizes that the Pirates possibly have the worst lineup in the league, according to my model they should score 3.84 runs on a typical night. Pittsburgh’s lineup may not have any household names, but C Jacob Stallings, 2B Adam Frazier and OF Bryan Reynolds are decent offensive players.

In addition to the Pirates lineup, the Pirates are also poorly served by Monday’s starting pitcher Mitch Keller. Keller currently has a 6.29 ERA but a 5.02 xFIP. While Keller has not done well this season, based on preseason projections he should improve to be the type of starter who pitches for five innings and allows only two earned runs on a good night.

Even though Pittsburgh is vulnerable with Keller on the mound, the bullpen surprisingly has done well this season. Currently the Pittsburgh bullpen has a 3.92 xFIP which is the eighth best in the league. The Pirates have been able to win low-scoring games this season because of the success of their bullpen.

Reds-Pirates Pick

The Cincinnati Reds are certainly a better team the Pittsburgh Pirates, but based on the starting pitching matchup neither team has an edge. The Pirates may have a bad lineup, but the Reds lineup is not as strong as it appears to be.

If the game ends up being decided by each team’s bullpen, Pittsburgh should win. For Cincinnati to win on the road they need to score several runs against Mitch Keller and the Pirates. As +125 underdogs I like the Pirates, and I would bet them up to +115.

Pick: Pittsburgh Pirates Moneyline +125 (would play up to +115)

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