Reds vs Pirates Odds, Picks, Predictions
Getty Images. Pictured: Mitch Keller (left), Hunter Greene (right).
- An NL Central affair starts the 2023 seasons of the Pirates and Reds on Thursday afternoon in Cincinnati.
- Two underrated pitchers take the mound in this one, in Pittsburgh's Mitch Keller and Cincinnati's Hunter Greene.
- Continue reading for a full breakdown of this matchup, including how to bet it.
Pirates vs. Reds Odds
-105 / -115
-105 / -115
There are more entertaining Opening Day games out there, but you won’t find a grittier matchup than the one between the Pirates and Reds at Great American Ball Park.
I’m bullish on this matchup as the starting pitcher battle — Mitch Keller vs. Hunter Greene — is quite compelling. Meanwhile, young but unproven stars litter both rosters.
So, let’s break down the odds alongside my pick and prediction for Pirates vs. Reds.
The Pirates have been “trying” to build a contender for years. So, how did Ben Cherington further that goal over the offseason?
Pittsburgh acquired a number of veterans that include Andrew McCutchen, Ji-Man Choi, Carlos Santana, Vince Velasquez and Rich Hill — one of the strangest offseason hauls for a rebuilding team I’ve ever seen.
The average age of those four players is 37.1, and the average service time between them is 10.9 years.
The Pirates also snagged Austin Hedges from Cleveland. Although he’s an excellent defensive catcher, he’ll do little to help the run-starved Pittsburgh lineup.
However, the Pirates might have some pop in the lineup this year.
ONeil Cruz’s chase rate declined toward the season’s end in 2022. All he needs to do is channel his unicorn-level athleticism and destroy baseballs.
O’Neil Cruz just hit a 122 mph single off the top of the wall 😳 pic.twitter.com/EplUWYhP59
— Baseball King (@BasebaIlKing) August 24, 2022
Meanwhile, Bryan Reynolds is projected to be a superstar despite the downward trend of his defense. Baseball Prospectus calls for a 132 DRC+ with 75 extra-base hits and 3.8 WARP.
Santana has been an above-average bat in four consecutive seasons by DRC+. His switch-hitting veteran savvy and uber-high walk rate (14% last season) makes him a plus contributor.
Ke’Bryan Hayes could also be a factor if he can rediscover his power swing from the abbreviated 2020 season.
The Bucs bullpen projects to be terrible outside of David Bednar, same with the defense. So, hopefully, their Opening Day starting pitcher can live up to his unfound potential.
Starting pitcher: Mitch Keller
For the umpteenth straight year, I’m targeting Mitch Keller as a potential breakout candidate. I’m hoping this is the season Keller finally realizes his potential as I’ll be betting on him often.
Midway through last season, Keller made two major changes to his arsenal. First, he overhauled his slider — the new pitch now has more sweeping action.
It’s been incredible to watch @mkeller11 evolution this season starting with complete ownership going to @TreadHQ changing his pitch mix, adding a sinker, learning to adapt on the fly, ⬆️confidence/conviction & designing a sweeper which U can check out below. @ATTSportsNetPITpic.twitter.com/rUH4xwhffE
— Michael McKenry (@theFortMcKenry) September 27, 2022
Second, he added a sinker and started alternating that with his classic four-seam fastball.
The result was a lower-velocity arsenal, but a massive increase in weak contact. From May 31 onward, Keller posted a 7.6-degree average launch angle, the sixth-lowest in MLB during the stretch. Predictably, Keller started to see serious results.
2022 Mitch Keller
5.77 ERA/4.73 xFIP/4.62 SIERA
3.20 ERA/3.71 xFIP/3.99 SIERA
far from an ace but Keller turned a real corner midseason by adding a sinker and adjusting his slider, he’s #good
— Kev Mahserejian (@RotoSurgeon) January 11, 2023
Keller even had a .322 BABIP during this stretch, indicating he could produce even more with his revamped arsenal.
There isn’t much to like from the Reds this year. Joey Votto (shoulder) is starting the year on the injured list, the lineup in general is shaky top-to-bottom and the bullpen is horrendous outside of Alexis Diaz.
I even have questions about Diaz, who gained national notoriety despite shaky peripherals. He posted a .178 BABIP over 63 2/3 innings, so naturally, Baseball Prospectus factors in negative regression and projects him for a 4.23 ERA and 1.37 WHIP with a BABIP closer to league average.
Diaz does have the highest-RPM fastball in the game, however.
If the Reds want to compete for third or fourth place in the NL Central, they’ll need a huge bounce-back year from Jonathan India, who backed up his ROY season with an underwhelming and injury riddled campaign.
India was trying to do too much at the top of the lineup, and he slowly lost touch with his natural swing. He started swinging more at pitches out of the zone, and his walk rate dropped 4% while his ISO dropped 60 points. If he returns to his roots, there are better days ahead from India.
The Reds will also need rotation pieces to capitalize on their sky-high potential.
Starting pitcher: Hunter Greene
The bright spot for the 2023 Reds is a trio of great young pitchers. Nick Lodolo, Graham Ashcraft and Hunter Greene are three guys with great stuff and uncapped ceilings.
Greene is likely the most talented of the three. He’s a dark-horse Cy Young Award pick who’s carrying loads of momentum into this season.
Over the final four starts of 2022, Greene posted a 0.78 ERA with 37 strikeouts over 23 innings. He allowed just 12 hits while walking seven.
Once he upped his slider usage to pair with his triple-digit fastball, Greene unlocked a new gear. The two pitches move in opposite directions, with the fastball seeing rising arm-side run and the slider dropping low and away from righties — it’s a tough mix.
It’s hard to find a better pitcher than Greene from a pure stuff perspective, but he needed some refining and better control. He’s found it, and the league better watch out.
First 16 starts:
6.01 ERA 🥶
1.35 WHIP 🤮
Last 8 starts:
1.75 ERA 🥵
0.97 WHIP 🔥
Him & Nick Lodolo create a scary 1-2 combo at the top of the Reds rotation. Maybe a dark horse to lead the NL in K’spic.twitter.com/tTAZxhrKA4
— David Mendelson (@DMendy02) March 29, 2023
Pirates vs. Reds Betting Pick
I love these two starting pitchers.
But the public doesn’t and neither do the projections — both viewpoints are warranted given their uneven 2022 seasons.
But Keller and Greene also made significant arsenal changes, finished the year strong and had a great spring training (3.12 ERA for Greene; 3.45 for Keller). They are carrying serious momentum and have some of the nastiest stuff in the game.
Meanwhile, there’s no reason to trust either offense. The Reds are hurt and the Pirates have a horrendous bottom of the order.
I’m looking to target a sneaky pitcher’s duel between Keller and Greene, and I suspect the market is undervaluing that option.
I’ll take the F5 u4.5 (-120) available at DraftKings. I’m looking for these pitchers to quickly turn over the opposing lineups and start their hopefully excellent seasons with a quality start.
Pick: F5 Under 4.5 (-120)
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