The last time the Cincinnati Reds were on the verge of sweeping a series, infielder Christian Colón grounded into a double play to end a 5-4 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Aug. 12.
That loss dropped the Reds out of second place in the NL Central. In Wednesday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Reds can sweep the Pirates and get back to second place in the division for the first time in over a month.
Here is what you need to know heading into the game.
The Line: Reds (-240)
Over/Under: 8.5 (-115)
Probable pitchers: Luis Castillo (3.44) vs. JT Brubaker (5.34)
Reds over 5 runs: (-105)
The Reds have only been this heavily favored to win once this season, and Cincinnati has this advantage because Brubaker is having a difficult rookie year. The 26-year old right-hander has made six starts for the Pirates this season, and he allows hits more often than all but one Pirates starter.
Left-handed hitters have a .297/.392/.422 slash line against Brubaker, and a player with those averages would be one of the ten best hitters in MLB this season. With Joey Votto, Mike Moustakas and Jesse Winker, the Reds have three left-handed power hitters in the lineup on Wednesday.
While Winker has missed time this week with an injury, Moustakas and Votto have combined for five home runs over the last seven days.
Brubaker hasn’t faced the Reds yet this season, but he’s pitched poorly in five of his six starts. Brubaker made one impressive appearance since he became a starter –– a five-inning, two-run outing against the Chicago Cubs. In his other five starts, Brubaker has allowed 17 runs in 20.1 innings.
Brubaker allowed seven runs in five innings in his most recent start, and he’s allowed seven hits in each of his last two starts.
Team to score first: Reds (-145)
Even though Luis Castillo hasn’t joined Trevor Bauer in the Cy Young Award conversation like many expected before the season, he’s arguably having the best season of his career.
After Castillo’s complete game on Sept. 11, the 2019 All Star has an almost identical ERA to his mark last season. Castillo has allowed fewer home runs per nine innings, fewer walks per nine innings and strikes out hitters more frequently than he did in 2019.
Castillo struggled during August –– he allowed three-or-more runs in six consecutive starts –– but Castillo has pitched deep into games throughout the season to salvage his season.
During that difficult stretch, he consistently pitched five or six innings, and he pitched that long because he has been at his best in the first two innings.
Castillo has only allowed six runs all season in the first two innings, and opposing hitters have a .206 batting average against Castillo during that timespan. Castillo has also only allowed one home run all season during the first two innings.