CINCINNATI REDS (26-25)
at ATLANTA BRAVES (28-23)
First pitch: Friday, 7:35 p.m. EDT
Line: Atlanta -160, Cincinnati +150, Total: 7.5
The slumping Reds travel to Atlanta on Friday night to begin a three-game series with a Braves team happy to be home after a seven-game road trip. Cincinnati has lost eight of its past nine games and sits just one game over .500 at 26-25. Atlanta lost its first three games on the road trip, but ended on a high note by winning three of their final four contests. Baseball lines.
Cincinnati is desperate for some quality pitching with a team ERA of 5.78 in the past nine games. Mike Leake (3-2, 5.70 ERA) gets the call up from Triple-A and returns to the rotation for the first time since May 3, when he was lit up for seven runs on seven hits by the lowly Astros. Leake has also been bad in his two minor-league starts after being sent down, allowing eight runs in 7.1 innings. The 23-year-old has only faced the Braves once in his brief career, holding them to one earned run and five hits over six innings, while striking out six in a 10-9 loss on May 20, 2010.
The Reds lead the majors in runs, but have only averaged 3.22 runs per game during their 1-8 stretch. The team is batting .222 and slugging a mere .325 over this span, but none of the blame goes to Jay Bruce, who is batting .486 (17-for-35) with six homers and 14 RBI during the nine games. Bruce hit his NL-leading 14th HR Thursday, but the hot streak could end quickly, as he was just 1-for-21 with nine strikeouts in five games versus the Braves last year. Baseball betting lines.
Atlanta will trot out Tommy Hanson (5-3, 2.71 ERA) to the mound on Friday. Hanson did not fare well in his last start Saturday at the L.A. Angels, allowing four runs on five hits and four walks in six innings. However, Hanson has been tremendous in five home starts this year, going 3-1 with a 2.05 ERA and 34 K in 30.2 IP. He also pitched well in his last meeting with Cincinnati, holding the Reds to six base-runners (5 H, 1 BB) and one earned run in 7.1 innings last August. This was quite an improvement from his previous outing versus the Reds (and Leake) when he allowed eight runs on eight hits in just 1.2 innings on May 20, 2010. One player that could provide Hanson some run support Friday is Dan Uggla, who has 8 HR and 28 RBI in 34 career games versus the Reds. His .321 BA against them is his highest average versus any NL team. Uggla is certainly due to bust out, considering he’s 2-for-33 in his past nine games.
The Reds are definitely playing like a tired team as they prepare for their 15th game in 15 days. They fell to Philadelphia in a 19-inning marathon on Wednesday night and then had to play again Thursday afternoon, and lost 10-4. The money line makes Cincy a tempting play, but there is no reason to believe Leake can out-pitch Hanson at Turner Field on Friday. I’m taking Atlanta which is supported by this highly-rated FoxSheets trend.
Play Against – Road underdogs with a money line of +100 or higher (CINCINNATI) – after a game where the bullpen was rocked for 6 or more earned runs against opponent with a hot bullpen whose WHIP is under 1.250 the last 15 games. (52-16 over the last 5 seasons.) (76.5%, +30 units. Rating = 3*). Baseball scores.
The FoxSheets also shows this four-star trend expecting the Over to occur on Friday.
CINCINNATI is 13-1 OVER (+12.1 Units) vs. a starting pitcher whose gives up 0.5 or less HR’s/start this season. The average score was CINCINNATI 5.1, OPPONENT 6.1 – (Rating = 4*).