The Battle of Ohio ends Monday with a single make-up game starting May 9th. Cincinnati won three of the first five games and is looking to secure the Ohio Cup victory for the first time since 2014.
The Reds have won five games in a row and are 8-2 in their last 10. They are 61-51 second in NL Central and only 2.5 games away from a wildcard position.
Cleveland is also second in their division but under .500 at 54-55. The AL Central is the only division in baseball with only one team over .500. Cleveland is only 3-5 years old as of August, but you can be sure that the Indians will want to continue their seasonal winning streak against Cincinnati.
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I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Luis Castillo (RHP), who will start on Monday. By that I mean, I hated him and loved betting against him, but lately he has loved proving me wrong. I’m finally ready to admit it: Castillo is good again.
The first two months of the season were a disaster for Castillo. In 11 starts through May, Castillo sat 1-8 with a 7.22 ERA and teams beat him .325. He lost seven times in a row at one point and looked like the worst thrower in the league.
Well, since the beginning of June, the former all-star has remembered pitching and regained his form. In the last 12 games, Castillo has gone 5-2 with an ERA of 1.91 and the teams only beat him .197. Only Walker Buehler has a lower ERA than Castillo on this track.
Offensive, the Reds have been great all season. They occupy third place in the league in the WOBA and seventh in the WRC. Cincinnati had two All-Star starters in Jesse Winker and Nick Castellanos who recently returned to the line-up.
That doesn’t even include Joey Votto, who certainly plays at All-Star level. In his last 15 games, Votto beats .328 with a 1,328 OPS and has 25 RBI and 11 home runs.
Cleveland will counter with rookie Sam Hentges (LHP) on the hill. The 25-year-old made his MLB debut in April of this year and made 17 appearances this year, eight of them starts. He has a 7.86 ERA in 17 games and a 9.00 ERA in his eight starts.
It is clear that Cleveland is trying to get the young arm into action as he only has five innings twice the season and never went more than that. The 6-foot-6 left-hander throws his fastball in the high 90s, but he was tied for a batting average of .462 and .538 WOBA that season. His curveball was actually really good this season, but the teams just sit on his fastball.
Hentges made his last start on July 7th before returning to Triple-A for some work. He was recalled in late July but only made two appearances in August, throwing two goalless innings last week.
The Cleveland offense is in recovery mode, with star third baseman José Ramírez continuing the team with a .360 wOBA and 128 wRC carries. His 3.5 WAR is almost double that of the next position player.
Despite Ramirez’s best efforts, Cleveland only ranks 24th this season
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I am man enough to admit that I was wrong. Castillo doesn’t stink anymore and has been one of the best pitchers in the league for the past two months. It should give the Reds a huge edge over a rookie pitcher who is still struggling to gain a foothold.
Castillo has one of the best moves in the game, and Cleveland has a -8.2 run value against this season Change, the 24th in the league.
Even if the Reds don’t tend to be that good against left-handers, they beat fastballs better than any other team in baseball and Hentges has served his fastball on a silver plate this season.
Cincinnati was red hot and is a much better team here. While I expect them to take the win and secure their first Ohio Cup series win in six years, putting a -180 price tag is a little too much as the Reds’ bullpen can be a bit shaky. Instead, I’ll be backing the Reds to lead at -135 after five innings (-0.5).
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