Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:05 AM EST.
7:10 PM EST. The Cardinals Wild Card hopes are hanging by a thread, which is more than enough motivation for the Reds to put this hated rival out of their misery. The Reds continue to be a serious threat at home (39-36) while the Cards are 35-40 on the road.
Jack Flaherty has made three starts since being called up in September and while the scouting reports were good, the results have not been. The scouting report said that the 21-year-old right-hander started the year at Double-A, had great success, and then pitched 85 innings at Triple-A Memphis in the tough Pacific Coast League. Didn't matter, as he pitched well there too with a decent strikeout rate while his walk rate only rose slightly. Flaherty stands 6'4" and weighs 205 pounds. The former first-rounder has a solid four-pitch mix and he throws strikes. So while none of his pitches are truly plus, and thus he is not likely to become an ace, he has a very good chance of reaching his ceiling as a mid-rotation starter in the majors. He knows how to pitch, his mechanics are repeatable, and he has shown consistent success all the way up the minor league ladder. His fastball only reaches the low-90s mph, but he knows how to mix in his curve, slider and changeup to keep batters off balance. For his minor league career his oppBA is just .239 and that has shown in his low WHIPs. He knows how to throw strikes with four pitches, he rarely walks batters, and hitters have a hard time squaring up against him. Other than a slight flyball tilt that could lead to some home runs, this is the kind of package you look for in a No. 3 starter. In four minor league seasons, his ERA is 2.77 with a 1.18 WHIP in 400.1 IP.
That’s a nice scouting report but some guys never make the successful transition from the minors to the majors and thus far, Flaherty has been getting whacked. In 13 innings, Flaherty has been tagged for 16 hits and 11 runs with three of those hits leaving the park. He was taken yard in all three starts (at SD, at SF and at home) and will now pitch in a bandbox. That aforementioned fly-ball tilt has been a problem and so has his 1.65 WHIP after three starts. Furthermore. the Reds saw him in St. Louis, whacked him and will now see him for the second time in less than a week. Chances are that Flaherty gets hit hard again because his confidence can’t be high and batters are having no trouble at all picking up what he’s trying to do. This is a fragile rookie right now.
Another unknown by the name of Jackson Stephens will oppose Flaherty. Stephens has only made one career start, which came back in July where he struck out eight across five innings. He was called up in September where he has made three appearances out of the bullpen with a maximum of 32 pitches. It is hard to envision him going deep into this game but we’re not going to concern ourselves with that. The Reds will use a bunch of relievers here if need be or maybe Stephens will be extended a bit. Either way, this bet is all about attacking Flaherty and getting behind these dangerous teams in the role of the spoiler.
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CINCINNATI +100 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.00)