Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Cincinnati Reds April 2 Betting Preview
On Sunday, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds will play the rubber match of their season-opening three-game series. Both teams have taken one game in this series so far, with the winner of this matchup going into the first week of MLB action with a 2-1 record. Whichever team can get the most out of its pitching staff on Sunday will have the inside track to a winning record after the first weekend of the 2023 campaign.
The Pittsburgh Pirates opened their season with a win over the Cincinnati Reds but lost their second matchup with Cincinnati on Saturday. Despite their .500 start, the Pirates must like what they have seen from their young team, especially Oneil Cruz. Cruz has hit .500 so far and has clubbed a home run, and will look to make an impact in this rubber match with the Reds on Sunday.
Vince Velasquez is starting this game on the mound for the Pirates, looking to begin 2023 on the right foot. Velasquez went 3-3 last season for the Chicago White Sox, posting an ERA of 4.78. His season debut is a golden opportunity to start the year with a win over the Reds, the only squad in the NL Central with longer division title odds than the Pirates.
The Cincinnati Reds did an excellent job of rebounding from their Opening Day loss to the Pirates with a 6-2 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday. The Reds scored all their runs in two innings, putting up three runs in the bottom of the first and three in the bottom of the sixth. On the mound, Nick Lodolo gave up just two runs in five innings of work, a performance that Graham Ashcraft will aim to replicate on Sunday.
Ashcraft went 5-6 in 2022, posting an ERA of 4.89 in his rookie season with the Reds. He gave up over a hit per inning last season, allowing 119 hits in 105 innings of work for a Reds team that lost 100 games. Ashcraft’s performance this season will be indicative of the performance of the Reds as a whole, and a strong start against the Pirates would be very encouraging here.
Keys To The Game
The top key to this game for the Pittsburgh Pirates will be how their pitching staff performs early on against the Reds. They gave up two first-inning home runs in the first inning on Saturday, which put them behind the eight-ball for the rest of that game. Pittsburgh could get a second road win in this series if the Pirates can limit the top of the Reds lineup here.
On the Cincinnati side, the top key to this contest will be their bullpen, whose performance has dictated the outcome of their first two games this year. The Reds bullpen gave up a late run in their 5-4 loss to the Pirates on Opening Day but held the Pirates scoreless late to preserve a win on Saturday. Which version of the Reds pen we get here will significantly influence this game’s outcome.
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