Aside from being in the same state, the Guardians and Reds are sharing other similarities at the moment. Both sides are in the midst of playoff races, both teams have played below .500 over their past ten games, and the clubs are also both coming off a rest day. Now the two sides will meet tonight in Cincinnati to start a quick two-game series, and we’ll preview tonight’s game before going over why I’ll be targeting the F5 moneyline underdog.
For a team that is now in a three-team divisional race due to the Cubs' recent success, the Cincinnati Reds desperately needed their series win over the Pirates. By taking two out of three from Pittsburgh over the weekend, the Reds were able to win their first series since July 28th-30th. In Sunday’s doubleheader, the Reds would drop the opening game but were able to bounce back in the second by winning 6-5.
It’s certainly a positive the Reds had off yesterday since the team used six relievers in game two of Sunday’s doubleheader. Now with a chance to win back-to-back games for the first time since the end of July, the Reds will have Graham Ashcraft on the mound for his 23rd start of the year. The young right-hander enters tonight off a stellar outing against the Marlins in which he allowed one earned run over seven innings while also racking up seven punchouts.
While they only have one win to show for it, the Guardians' offense will come into tonight’s matchup with Ashcraft after a strong weekend against the Rays. Cleveland scored at least five runs in all three games down in Tampa Bay and avoided getting swept on Sunday with a 9-2 win. In an offensive onslaught, the Guardians registered 15 hits, including seven extra-base hits, three of which were doubles from Oscar Gonzalez.
With their deficit in the division up to 4.5 games, the Guardians desperately need a run, and getting the ball for them tonight in the hopes of starting that run will be lefty Logan Allen. The rookie took the loss in his last outing despite allowing just one earned run over five innings, but overall he enters tonight with a 3.55 ERA in 91.3 innings.
Cleveland’s F5 moneyline can be found at (+100), and I’ll be backing them for my play. While both sides have not been consistent recently, the Guardians' offense having momentum coming into this series is a big advantage. The other advantage Cleveland has, at least for the first part of the game, is they’re throwing a lefty, which has given the Reds offense fits as of late.
Dating back to July 15th, the Reds' offense is hitting .189 and ranks 28th in wRC+ and 27th in OPS against left-handed pitching at home. Those numbers don’t bode well for them against Logan Allen since the lefty has a .239 batting average against and 3.61 FIP in 41.1 road innings this season.
Interestingly enough, Reds starter Graham Ashcraft has also been better when pitching on the road this season, which unfortunately does not help him or the team tonight. The right-hander has thrown 70 innings at home and has a .261 batting average against and 5.86 FIP. Ashcraft is also in the 13th percentile in expected batting average, which is music to Guardians backers' ears since the team is hitting .291 and ranks 2nd in OPS and wRC+ against right-handed pitching on the road over the past month.
Cleveland Guardians F5 (+100)