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MLB handicapper Matt Zylbert, fresh off his win yesterday, is back to break down Thursday's Reds vs. Pirates game

Pittsburgh PIrates vs. Cincinnati Reds Prediction & Over/Under Pick

Pittsburgh Pirates at Cincinnati Reds

Over/Under: 9.5

First pitch: 7:10 p.m. ET

Probable pitchers: Wil Crowe (3-5, 5.40 ERA) vs. Sonny Gray (3-6, 4.26 ERA)

Pittsburgh PIrates vs. Cincinnati Reds Prediction

Always take note when starting pitchers appear to be reaching a breakthrough in their careers or recent struggles. Both starting pitchers in this series opener in Cincy tonight seem to fit that description.

Gray, of course, is already good and certainly much better than that 3-6 record he’s saddled with. In his first two assignments out of the All-Star break, though, the former first round draft pick was hit up for 13 runs — the second-most he’s ever allowed in back-to-back starts.

Could those struggles be attributed to the rib cage strain injury that cost Gray nearly a month just prior to the Midsummer Classic? Possibly. But the important thing is that Gray rebounded from those two off outings by hanging six innings of one run ball at Citi Field against the first-place New York Mets and racking up seven K’s.

That indicates to me Gray is about to return to usual form, the one in which the former Oakland A’s ace went eight consecutive starts yielding three runs or fewer before landing on the sidelines.

He has the right opponent to keep going. Pittsburgh wields one of the weaker-raking lineups in the league and since coming to the National League, Gray’s faced the Buccos six times, crafting a 2.81 ERA and 32-10 K/BB ratio in those dates.

Crowe, meanwhile, may be experiencing a breakthrough in his career. After 19 career games (18 starts), the 26-year-old finally has a scoreless outing under his belt — and it was a really impressive showing.

That came during his last turn opposite the contending Philadelphia Phillies, whom Crowe limited to only a mere hit across six spectacular scoreless innings.

I’ve been a believer in the right-hander since debuting as a Washington National last season and believe that performance can trigger an upward trend, or at least a lengthy stretch of mostly competent work.

Crowe will be taking on a tougher lineup than his counterpart this evening, but one that may also still be without its most dangerous hitter, Nick Castellanos (wrist).

High total here in a National League Park and one standout start may do the trick in effort of keeping this contest low scoring.

Pick: UNDER 9.5 (-115)


Mets-Marlins Under 8.5

2021 MLB Over/Under Betting Record*: “58-50-8,” +1.73 units

Yesterday’s Result: Mariners-Rays Under 8 (WIN)

*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit


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