Pittsburgh (Cole) -111 at Cincinnati (Garrett) O/U 8.5
Pittsburgh's offense has started to pick it up some with respectable .265/.360/.446/.805 splits over its last nine games (5-4, 4.6 runs per game). Cincinnati meanwhile is headed in the opposite direction. They've lost 11 of 15 and seen the team's batting average drop 23 points and OPS 54 points during that span.
Gerrit Cole will take the hill for the Pirates tonight. After a rough outing at Boston to open the year, Cole owns a 2.52 ERA and a stellar 25-5 K-to-BB ratio over his last four starts. He was at his best last time out, throwing only 78 pitches over 7 scoreless innings against the ultra-potent Chicago Cubs.
Amir Garrett has been one of the few bright spots for Cincinnati's decimated rotation. Garrett was practically unhittable in his first three starts (1.83 ERA) but ran into some difficulty last time out as Milwaukee torched him for nine runs in 3.1 innings. Garrett doesn't have overpowering stuff and could find it more difficult when facing teams for a second time like he will here tonight (6 IP, 2 ER vs. Pittsburgh on April 12).
We also need to bring up Cincinnati's bullpen situation. Due to all of the injuries to the starting staff, the Reds' relievers have been worked extremely hard. They lead MLB with over 100 IP through 24 games and come into this game even more fatigued having thrown 34.2 over the last ten days including five innings in yesterday's 5-4 win over St. Louis. And not only is fatigue a concern but regression as well as this group currently flashes MLB's second-best xFIP (3.10) despite ranking dead last in 2016 (4.79). I'll side with the short road favorite tonight.