Stephen Nover Free Monday Play

On May 9, 2016, in Free Picks, MLB, by Stephen

Pirates minus $1.25 at Reds

The Pirates had the lowest bullpen ERA last season. Pittsburgh’s bullpen ERA currently ranks 21st this season. Still, it’s nowhere near as atrocious as Cincinnati’s relief staff.

How terrible is the Reds’ bullpen? Record-bad that’s how bad. Cincinnati’s arson squad has surrendered at least one run in 25 of the last 26 games. The Reds bullpen is on pace to issue the third-most walks per season in baseball history.

Cincinnati already has blown eight leads when ahead entering the seventh inning. Opening-day closer J.J. Hoover looked more like Herbert Hoover and has been banished to the minors. The bullpen situation is so awful in Cincinnati that David Weathers is now being fondly remembered.

The Reds have dropped 12 of their 17 games with a bullpen ERA of 7.07 during this span. So the Reds’ bullpen has to be a heavily handicapped in a starting pitching matchup of lefty Jon Niese versus converted reliever Dan Straily.

Niese hasn’t pitched well in his last three starts. He said, though, after his last outing he identified mechanical flaws. So I’m expecting improvement from the veteran. It’s a plus Niese is a southpaw as the Reds are 5-17 in their last 22 games against a lefty. They have lost 10 of the past 14 times at home when facing a lefthander.

Reds starter Dan Straily has spent most of his five years in the American League. He’s been decent during his first four starts with the Reds posting a 3.56 ERA. This is above his career norm. His ERA was nearly 4.00 during his final full year with the A’s in 2013. He split the 2014 season between the A’s and Cubs posting an 11.85 ERA in limited bullpen work with the Cubs and a 4.93 ERA with Oakland. He had a 5.40 ERA with the Astros last year.

Straily has given up eight walks and four homers in his last three starts spanning 17 innings. So he doesn’t figure to go deep into the game. Straily will be dealing with a potent Pirates outfield and an infield whose power has been strengthened with the return of Jung Ho Kang.

Note, too, the Pirates have won six of their last seven road games.


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