This is about as important as any series can be before the All-Star break. The Reds are six games behind the Brewers in the NL Central, so these four games present a huge opportunity to make up some ground. These games obviously mean a lot to the Brewers too, as a series victory here would be a huge blow to Cincinnati’s playoff chances.
Here’s how the bookmakers have set the lines for Thursday night’s matchup.
MLB Odds: Reds-Brewers Odds
Cincinnati Reds ML (-103)
Milwaukee Brewers ML (-107)
Over 8 1/2 runs (-110)
Under 8 1/2 runs (-110)
Why The Reds Could Cover The Spread
The first thing that comes to mind when most people think of this Reds team is how potent their offense is, but Cincinnati’s advantage may lie in who’s going to the mound on Thursday night. Pitcher Tyler Mahle will make the start in this crucial series opener.
Mahle has been a big surprise for the Reds this year, pitching to the tune of a 3.63 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP. He has already faced the Brewers once this season, pitching six innings while only giving up one run. Mahle should be able to repeat his performance against a struggling Brewers offense.
Milwaukee is also a statistically poor offensive team, ranking in the bottom 10 teams in MLB in all major batting stats. As if that isn’t enough, Mahle has even more advantages against the Brewers in this matchup. Milwaukee is a much worse offensive team at home, experiencing drops in batting average, OBP, and OPS when playing in American Family Field.
The Brewers will trust Adrian Houser to make his 16th start of the season on Thursday. Houser has been mostly solid, but he has ran into some problems against the Reds. He has faced Cincinnati twice this year, pitching a total of nine innings and giving up seven runs. The Reds have been swinging the bat well as of late, so it’s certainly possible they get to Houser again.
Why The Brewers Could Cover The Spread
Despite Houser’s struggles against the Reds, he’s a pitcher the Brewers can rely on. He has a 3.94 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP on the season, with those numbers improving to a 3.26 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP in his last seven games. The righty is also much better when he’s pitching at home, shown by his opponents’ batting averages. When Houser is pitching on the road, he has given up a batting average of .261 to enemy hitters. That average drops to .241 when he’s throwing with the home crowd at his back.
The Reds are also much worse offensively when they’re playing away from home. Cincinnati’s batting average, OBP, and slugging percentage all take a dip when on the road. With all of these stats going his way, there’s certainly reason to believe that Houser can put together a good start.
While Milwaukee has been poor on offense for the entire year, there is one thing that is notable. The Brewers hit right-handed pitching slightly better than they do left-handed pitching, seeing a tiny rise in batting average whenever they face a righty.
Final Reds-Brewers Prediction & Pick
The Brewers have put together some good offensive performances recently, but I don’t see that continuing against Mahle on Thursday night. This game will feature less scoring than most people expect, but the Reds should pull out a win behind a strong performance from Mahle.
FINAL PICK: Cincinnati Reds ML (-103)