The Cincinnati Reds started the shortened 2020 season in a somewhat disappointing fashion, as their bullpen failed to take care of business in the last two games of a season-opening homestand against the Detroit Tigers.
Both of the losses were eerily similar.
The Reds and Tigers were tied heading into the 9th inning when the Cincinnati bullpen gave up a go-ahead home run in each instance. The Reds will try to dust themselves off and work through their relief-pitching trust issues as they welcome the Cubs to Great American Ball Park for a 4-game NL Central battle. Below we’ll be covering our MLB free picks Cubs vs Reds take.
Meanwhile, the Cubs took two out of three games from the Milwaukee Brewers in Wrigley Field to kick off the season. They have their claws out, ready to pounce on the frustrated Reds squad. These two rivals have pretty high betting odds to win the World Series this year, with the Cubs favored (+2000) over the Reds (+2800).
MLB Free Pick Cubs vs Reds
The Cubs must realize that the core team that broke the curse, ending Chicago’s 108-year World Series drought in 2016, will soon be separated. Ownership didn’t make any real offseason splashes, which might indicate an acceptance to rebuild in the near future. 2020 represents a unique opportunity for this team to make a “last hurrah.”
Chicago Cubs Lineup
The Cubs lineup is potent. 1B Anthony Rizzo, 3B Kris Bryant, C Wilson Contreras, and SS Javier Baez are all studs. Outfielders Kyle Schwarber and Ian Happ are on their way up, and Jason Heyward can still be dangerous.
The starting rotation that begins with Kyle Hendricks, Yu Darvish, Tyler Chatwood, and then has Jon Lester standing strong in the four-hole is pretty impressive. Darvish can make folks nervous, but Hendricks and Lester are solid gamers and Chatwood has been outstanding as of late. If the bullpen does a decent job, the Cubs will undoubtedly have good reason to be optimistic this year.
Cincinnati Reds Lineup
The Reds have GREAT starting pitching but needed to give a shot of adrenaline to their offense to back that up. In the off-season, they signed leadoff hitter OF Shogo Akiyama, RF Nick Castellanos (from the Cubs), and 3-time all-star 2B Mike Moustakas to swing alongside 3B Eugenio Suarez and 1B Joey Votto. Not too shabby.
Cincinnati’s Hopes Centered Around Stellar Starting Pitching
With a starting rotation that features Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo, and Trevor Bauer, the Reds might very well have the best top three SPs in the league. In fact, the Reds star trio tied an MLB strikeout record for the most strikeouts through the first three games of the season in their previous series vs. the Tigers, tying the 2013 Texas Rangers by fanning 33.
Sonny Gray struck out nine on Opening Day in a victory, Luis Castillo struck out 11 the next day, and Trevor Bauer K’d 13. The pattern dictates that SP Wade Miley will strike out 15 in this game vs. the Cubs, right? Wrong.
Reds vs. Cubs: Keys to the Matchup
Both Kris Bryant and Jason Heyward are hitting .429 against SP Wade Miley for their career, and backup CF Albert Almora, Jr. has a .400 career average against him (look for him to spot start or pinch hit). The Cubs will likely get on the scoreboard early and often, prompting the Reds to turn to that unreliable bullpen of theirs. You can guess what happens next. A hit parade. It’s too soon for the collective bullpen psyche to recover from the trauma of the last two games.
Reds 3B Moustakas woke up ill and is unavailable to play. It’s unknown as of this writing whether or not he’s tested positive for COVID-19. Nick Castellanos hits SP Jon Lester very well (.714 career average) and Eugenio Suarez has had success against him (.375 career average), but expect Lester to pitch at least six innings of quality baseball and to be in control. The Cubs bullpen will hold the lead as the Reds continue reeling at home. No predictions about how many runs they’ll win by, but the Cubs will win the game.