Following a rough series in Chicago, the Reds' path to being NL Central champs just became a lot more intense. After ten games on the road, Cincinnati can look to trend back in the right direction tonight at home against the Washington Nationals, who they’ll host for a three-game set. We’ll preview the series’ opening game before reviewing my play for the first five innings.
Not much good has come from the Nationals season up to this point, but at the very least, they enjoyed a “happy flight” over to Cincinnati and an off-day following their series win over the Brewers. The difference between a good flight and a bad one came in the ninth inning of their 3-2 win on Wednesday, in which they scored two runs on an errant throw by the Brewers with the bases loaded to give them a walk-off.
Now Washington is back on the road and looking to continue to wreak havoc on the NL Central divisional race. Getting the start tonight for the Nationals will be left-hander Patrick Corbin, who will be taking the mound for the 23rd time this season. Corbin enters tonight with three or more earned runs allowed in four of his last five starts, including his most recent start, where he allowed four runs in 5.2 innings to the Mets.
Corbin will have his work cut out for him tonight against a Reds lineup whose pitching staff ruined their impressive series in Chicago. A series that culminated with a 5-3 loss yesterday. Cincinnati would get home runs from Elly De La Cruz and Spencer Steer, but while they were trying to carry the offense, the Reds' pitching staff continued to allow big innings.
Across the four games in Chicago, the Reds failed to hold the Cubs under five runs; in fact, they allowed a combined 36 runs to be scored in the second and third game of the series. With a desperate need to turn it around on the bump, the Reds will send Graham Ashcraft to the mound. The young right-hander is coming off a phenomenal July, in which he allowed two or fewer earned runs in all five of his starts.
The Reds F5 run-line of (-.5) is currently priced at (-120), and I’ll be backing them for my play in this one. Not only will the Reds have their most consistent starter as of late on the mound, but the Cincinnati lineup has crushed left-handed pitching recently. With the Nationals failing to go over their F5 team total in seven of their last ten games, I think the Reds can build a lead early and hold onto it.
Over the last month, the Nationals rank 25th in OPS, wOBA, and wRC+ against right-handed pitching on the road. Between those numbers and their recent inability to produce offense early in games, they are an ideal team for Ashcraft to continue his momentum against. The right-hander is fresh off a month in which he boasted a 1.84 ERA in 29.1 innings, and if there was ever a game his team needed him the most, it would be tonight.
Offensively, the Reds are in an excellent spot to continue producing runs at a heavy clip. Over the last month, the Reds rank 11th in wRC+, 9th in wOBA, and 7th in OPS against left-handed pitching. Now they get to face a starter in the 4th percentile in xERA/xwOBA, 3rd percentile in expected slugging, and 1st percentile in expected batting average.
Cincinnati Reds F5 (-.5)(-120)