By: Austin Moehn (@austin_moehn22)
(Odds via Bovada)
Moneyline: CIN: (-105) | MIL: (-115)
Spread: CIN: +1.5 (-170) | MIL: -1.5 (+150)
Total: 9 Over: (-110) | Under: (-110)
First Pitch: 6:10pm CST | Great American Ball Park | Cincinnati, OH
The Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds are set to face each other for the first time in 2021. To this point, the NL Central foes have underperformed preseason expectations with both entering today with sub .500 records and coming into this weekend series on cold streaks. But for it being an early-season matchup and the first time the teams play, this three-game set has meaning as both are looking to build momentum and climb up the NL Central Standings. The pitching matchup for the opener will be Jeff Hoffman (2-3 4.67 ERA) and Adrian Houser (3-4 3.63 ERA).
Cincinnati Reds (19-23)
Cincinnati is coming into the weekend hoping for a better outcome as the Giants swept them at home. The pitching was better in their previous four games, minus yesterday, but the offense wasn’t able to get going, which led to the four-game sweep. As a team, the Reds offense ranks around the top five in every major statistical category. However, they will be without Joey Votto, Mike Moustakas, and probably Nick Senzel for the Brewers series. Even without the players mentioned earlier, Cincinnati still has a potent lineup with Eugenio Suarez, Tyler Naquin, and Jesse Winker to go with the red hot Nick Castellanos, who has an OPS of 1.484 over his past six games. If Cincinnati wants to turn their season around, the offense will need to keep their production up, while the pitching staff needs to complete 180 in their performance so far this season.
The Reds will send out former first-round draft pick Jeff Hoffman as they look to find a way to build momentum in the right direction. The 28- year old has struggled this season, and he has failed to reach the fifth inning in his last four starts. He’s had two good starts this season, but overall it has been a rough one for Hoffman. On the other hand, he gets the luxury of facing one of the worst statistical offenses in the Milwaukee Brewers.
Milwaukee Brewers (21-22)
Once again, I will be sounding like a broken record in saying that Milwaukee’s offense has been underperforming and that if they can get going, the wins will follow. In their previous series, it was once again the case facing Kansas City where they weren’t able to take advantage of facing mediocre pitching. If there were a positive to take out of the previous series, it would be the Crew getting back Christian Yelich. Now with Yelich and Omar Narvaez being back in the lineup, this makes the Milwaukee lineup undoubtedly better. Still, they have to prove that they can score, and this might be the matchup that does it facing Jeff Hoffman and a Cincinnati bullpen that has a 4.97 ERA. With Milwaukee’s offense being at full strength, if there were a time for the Crew to get back above .500, it would be now.
Milwaukee will send out Adrian Houser, who is coming off a bad outing against the Braves a week ago. He wasn’t able to control the strike zone allowing five walks in only three innings of work. For Milwaukee to get the dub in this one, they will need Houser to work deeper than he has because the bullpen is starting to show major holes. Other than Josh Hader, Craig Counsel has to be nervous sending any of his other relievers out to the mound as guys like JP Feyereisen and Devin Williams are starting to struggle coming out with clean innings. Milwaukee has been on a tough skid for about a month now, and this is an important series for morale, so I’m expecting Counsel to be throwing Hader maybe twice along with trying to get his other bullpen arms back into form.
Best Bet & Prediction
This series will be hard to predict because both have highly talented teams, but their inconsistency to play at their full potential on a night-to-night basis is why I find this hard to pick. Still, I have a bet that I like a lot, and that is the Brewers over 4.5 runs (-110). This feels like a potential breakout game for the Brewers offense as they are the healthiest they’ve been since opening day, and having the opportunity to face a struggling starter and bullpen is a reason why I like this bet so much. Hoffman has struggled in his past four outings, while the Reds bullpen has been used heavily this week. The outcome of this game is a crapshoot, but I think this will be higher scoring, and because of the reds pitching woes and the Brewers lineup getting healthy, I like Milwaukee to be able to hit the five-run mark even if they lose. I’m taking the over on Milwaukee’s 4.5 runs (-110).
Austin’s MLB 2021 picks 10-5 (+$390 on $100 bets)
-Austin Moehn @austin_moehn22