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MLB Picks and Bets: Pittsburgh Pirates at Cincinnati Reds

The all-NL Central opener gets underway at 4:10 p.m. Eastern from Great American Ballpark. Two first-time Opening Day starters get the nod in what’s projected to be a battle for the bottom of the division.

Odds provided by FanDuel

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Cincinnati Reds: Projected Starting Pitchers

RHP Jameson Taillon vs. RHP Luis Castillo

Taillon has been pegged by many as a 2019 breakout candidate. The 27-year-old pitched to a 2.33 ERA in the second half of 2018 with 76 strikeouts to 16 walks over 85 innings. He played his best away from home last year.

Castillo started 31 games last year and pitched a total of 169 2/3 innings. His 3.69 xFIP inspires much more confidence than his 4.30 ERA, however that number dropped all the way to 2.44 over 11 starts in the second half.

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Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Cincinnati Reds: By the Numbers

  • Castillo gave up 1.54 home runs per nine innings at home last season, an unfortunate condition of playing in Cincinnati, but the Pirates ranked 25th with just 157 homers last year.
  • Only three teams spent less money in the offseason than Pittsburgh’s $31.3 million.
  • The Reds added 44 home runs from 2018 with the offseason trade acquisitions of OFs Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp.

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Cincinnati Reds: Key Injuries

2B Scooter Gennett is the most notable omission from the Reds’ Opening Day lineup, as he’s expected to miss 8-12 weeks due to a groin strain.

Pirates OF Starling Marte battled a back injury this spring, but he’s good to go Thursday. OF Gregory Polanco will miss about the first month of the season due to a shoulder issue.

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Cincinnati Reds: Picks and Betting Tips

Moneyline: The Pirates are the play here as +106 underdogs and with their ace on the mound. His 0.94 HR/9 will play well at the small ballpark.

Against the spread: It pays just -200 to take Pittsburgh to cover +1.5, so we’ll stick with the moneyline.

Over/under: A modest total was set at 8. We’ll take the under at -104 with both starters building on strong finishes to 2018.

Follow Esten on Twitter @EstenMcLaren


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