Minnesota (Blackburn) at Cincinnati (Bailey)
Recommendation: Cincinnati R/L -1.5 +105
The Twins have lost each of their last three series; outscored 17-5 in their three game set at Pittsburgh earlier this week. Their lineup is slumping again, managing only 16 runs scored in their last seven games. Their pitching staff is nothing short of a disaster area – opponents have scored 8, 7, 9, 6, 5, 6, 4, 7, 1 and 9 runs against them in their last ten games, while the Twins starters, as a group, have recorded a grand total of two outs past the sixth inning during that entire span. That leaves an overworked bullpen behind struggling Minnesota starter Nick Blackburn this evening, opening the door for a big Reds blowout!
Blackburn would have the worst ERA among full time major league starting pitchers if he had enough innings to qualify. But he’s been knocked out of the box so early so often that he’s averaged less than five innings per start, saving him from that ignominy. Blackburn pitches to contact, with only 24 strikeouts compared to 19 walks this year, and he’s allowed at least four earned runs in five of his last six trips to the hill – even weaker offensive teams like the Phillies, Royals and Mariners have lit him up. After getting swept in Cleveland earlier this week, matching their longest losing streak of the season, look for Cinci’s potent lineup to hammer Minnesota pitching all night long this evening!
Reds starter Homer Bailey has thrown six quality starts in his last seven trips to the hill, including an eight-inning, one-run gem against the Mets in his last outing. A former #1 pick who has struggled repeatedly making the transition from Triple-A to the majors, Bailey finally seems to be living up to his enormous potential, with career lows in ERA, WHIP and batting average against so far this season. And despite Aroldis Chapman’s struggles over the past two weeks, this Reds bullpen trumps the Twins bullpen by a wide margin, a rested, quality unit that is quite capable of slamming the door shut, allowing us to maintain the margin that we need to cash this Run Line bet!