Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:15 AM EST.
7:10 PM EST. This one sets up nice for the Reds, as they’ll face a Pirates team coming off a highly emotional four-game set against the Dodgers. The Pirates lost three of four to the Dodgers with only win coming on that well-publicized “no-hitter” by Rich Hill. Hill had completed nine innings without allowing a hit. Usually, five minutes after that reality reveals itself, he would be drenched in Gatorade or beer or both, his limbs aching from exertion and from the dogpile on the mound. That wasn’t happening, though. This no-hitter wasn’t a no-hitter, technically, because the game continued on, a scoreless tie until of course Josh Harrison turned on Rich Hill’s 99th pitch and poked a homer over Curtis Granderson’s glove. Game over on one hit by the Pirates. Pittsburgh knocked out six more hits yesterday in a 5-2 loss to they not only should’ve been swept by L.A. but they combined for seven hits over the past two games and will now face Robert Stephenson.
Stephenson is a former first-round righty with impressive raw stuff that includes three plus pitches though below-average control. His fastball will flash plus-plus with run and sink, though he relies on working it high in the zone, which leads to control issues. That’s getting better, however. The curve flashes plus with hard depth and generates swings-and-misses low in zone, while the change fades with tumble and is another plus offering. Stephenson has 41 K’s in 44 innings. Over his last two starts against Atlanta and Pittsburgh, he gave up a combined five hits in 10.2 innings. The risk is that he walks too many batters but his recent form is good enough to get behind because his raw stuff is so good, which matters at this park.
Ivan Nova is much more familiar than Robert Stephenson. Nova has missed more bats (10% swing and miss rate) in the second half (4.13 xERA), but a number of balls have reached the seats (1.8 HR/9). Six out of his last seven games started have resulted in a below average outing and his 5.12 away xERA makes this start at Great American Ball Park (+29% LHB HR) a very risky one. Nova has been tagged for 12 jacks over his past nine games and it’s highly unlikely that he’ll be able to keep the ball in the park here.
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CINCINNATI +111 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.22)