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Baseball Betting: Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Cincinnati Reds

The Pittsburgh Pirates lead the National League wild card race, and the Cincinnati Reds, though trailing the Bucs by four games, hold the second spot. A crucial collision awaits in Ohio.

Pittsburgh Pirates @ Cincinnati Reds – Saturday, July 20

In the realm of online sports betting, this game will be a very hard one to pick, at least when compared to other games in the majors. When looking at pay per head sites, you can make a fundamental determination about this contest that can shape your betting play. Examining 5dimes.com reviews during a baseball season will lead you to the conclusion that Pittsburgh has been the better team to this point in 2013, but an awareness of history will also tell you that the Pirates have collapsed in the middle of summer in each of the previous two campaigns. This is the time of year when Pittsburgh has not been able to overcome many doubts.

Will this year be different? In the long run, probably so. In this game, however? Maybe not. The Reds will enter this weekend series after getting four days off, four days to mentally refresh themselves and devote their full attention to the Pirates, the team that stands in their way of a more secure and assured postseason ticket. The Reds entered the All-Star break having scored 56 more runs than the Pirates, and their run differential is 17 runs greater than Pittsburgh’s (plus-63 compared to plus-46 for the Bucs), but they’re four games behind in the standings, and that’s because Pittsburgh has been a better team in close games. The Pirates’ closer, Jason Grilli, has been better than Cincinnati closer Aroldis Chapman. In this game, Pittsburgh starting pitcher A.J. Burnett has been slightly better than Cincinnati starter Mat Latos, forging an ERA advantage of roughly half a run (3.06 for Burnett, 3.53 for Latos). Are these advantages enough to recommend Pittsburgh as the choice in this game?

Not quite.

One thing to realize about a team with a better back end of a bullpen is this: It must take the lead into the eighth and ninth innings in order for that back-end bullpen edge to emerge in all its fullness. Latos is good enough to stay with Burnett in a pitching duel, and what’s more is that Cincinnati’s offense is appreciably better than Pittsburgh’s. If the Reds’ hitters, given a bit of rejuvenation by the All-Star break, attack Burnett and deliver the first blow in this game, Cincinnati can play with a lead and neutralize some of Pittsburgh’s foremost strengths. When you make a betting play at an online sportsbook, you need to be able to frame an event in a larger context, and the context here is that the intangibles lean in favor of the home team. The intensity and energy the Reds are likely to bring to this game make Cincinnati a very attractive betting play. The urgency of the moment and the ability to gear up for this series will put the Reds in a very strong competitive position.

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