Aug. 21 MLB Preview — San Diego Padres (59-66) at Cincinnati Reds (59-66)

(Luis Castillo photo courtesy David Kohl/USA TODAY Sports)

This is the full preview(s) as seen on the Winners and Whiners and Stat Salt websites. The confidence rating for all picks on a scale from 1 to 5 is in parentheses.

Note: The 5/5 does NOT represent the best overall pick of the day’s games when there are multiple games, simply the best pick(s) from each individual game.

When and Where: Wednesday, Aug. 21, Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, Ohio, 12:35 p.m. EDT.

Coming off arguably the worst start of his career, Luis Castillo tries reassert his home dominance Wednesday when the Cincinnati Reds conclude a three-game series against the San Diego Padres.

Padres pushing back Paddack as Strahm leads bullpen day

Padres rookie Chris Paddack was in line to start this game, but since he is on pace to meet his pre-season innings limit of 150 and has not pitched on four days’ rest this year, manager Andy Green has opted to hold him back until Friday’s series opener versus Pittsburgh.

Matt Strahm (5-8, 5.21) will lead San Diego’s bullpen day as he makes his first start since July 2, having been dropped from the rotation after yielding season worsts of seven runs and 11 hits in a 10-4 loss to San Francisco in that outing.

The left-hander has gone 2-1 with a 4.24 ERA in 14 relief appearances since and has not pitched more than two innings nor thrown more than 43 pithes in any outing. Strahm retired the only batter he faced Sunday at Philadelphia in his last appearance.

He had one of his best outings of the season against Cincinnati on April 19, shaking off a first-inning solo homer by Eugenio Suarez and conceding just one other hit in eight innings of a 3-2, 11-inning loss. That is Strahm’s lone start against the Reds, and he also allowed a solo homer in a relief stint of 2 1-3 innings last year in Cincinnati.

Castillo’s personal homestand continues with seventh straight start at GABP

Castillo (11-5, 3.10) has not pitched outside Great America Ball Park since beating the Chicago Cubs on July 10 and will be making his 17th start at home out of 26 outings on the season. He is 7-4 with a 2.97 ERA in Cincinnati, holding opponents to a .195 batting average while striking out 109 in 100 innings.

The right-hander took a hit to his NL Cy Young Award chances Friday against the St. Louis Cardinals, who hammered him over 4 1-3 innings of a 13-4 defeat. Castillo has had two awful starts during his six-game run at home, splitting four decisions while posting a 5.25 ERA.

Friday’s outcome could have been different had Castillo been able to get the third out of the inning, but Kolten Wong’s single led to a two-out rally and Dexter Fowler’s three-run homer that led to a 4-0 deficit.

“In that situation, I just want to throw a strike because I want to get back into the count,” Castillo explained about the home run to the club’s official website. “That happens when you fall [behind] in the count every time. You just have to throw pitches around the zone for the hitters to swing and you work the count again. I think that happened with the homers, like 3-0, I have to throw the ball over the middle of the plate.”

The righty was efficient in beating the Padres in San Diego on April 20, limiting them to a solo homer by Eric Hosmer and three other hits in six innings of a 4-2 victory. Castillo had gone 0-2 with a 5.17 ERA in his three previous matchups, and Hosmer is 6 for 8 lifetime in their meetings.

Notable Trends

The Reds are:

  • 4-1 in Castillo’s last five starts on four days of rest.
  • 5-2 in Castillo’s last seven starts during game 3 of a series.
  • 4-1 in their last five home games vs. sub-.500 teams.

The Padres are:

  • 6-14 in their last 20 during game 3 of a series.
  • 1-8 in their last nine games vs. starters with a sub-1.15 WHIP.
  • 0-5 in Strahm’s last five starts following a loss in the previous game.

*****5-Star Pick*****

Reds -1.5 runs (+111)

If Strahm was not making his first start in six weeks, the lean would have been to the money line, but since he likely will not last beyond three innings, trusting Castillo to bounce back and follow up Sonny Gray’s solid outing is the play.

In the follow-up starts to the four outings Castillo allowed four or more runs, the right-hander is 3-0 with a 1.07 ERA while striking out 28 in 25 1-3 innings. A lesser factor in this pick is Strahm’s inability to be a stopper after a Padres loss.

****4-Star Pick****

Reds -0.5 runs first 5 innings (-125)

Another confidence pick in Castillo, who had allowed one run combined in the first five innings of his last three starts prior to getting rocked by St. Louis last time out. He also pitched the Reds to a lead at the five-inning mark at San Diego earlier this season, and Cincinnati is 11-4-1 at the midway point in his 16 home starts this year.

***3-Star Picks***

UNDER 8.5 runs (-115)

The number moved one-half run higher with Strahm named starter, and the trends for both teams are enough to flip the pick. The under is riding a six-game run in this series and 5-2 in Castillo’s last seven starts versus NL West teams.

The under is 5-0-1 in San Diego’s last six games when facing NL Central opponents and a healthy 14-6-2 when facing opponents with a sub-1.15 WHIP. The under is also 7-3-2 in Strahm’s last 12 road starts and 18-7-1 in the Padres’ last 26 on the road.

Padres UNDER 3.5 runs (-125)

The Padres have scored just five runs in the first two games of this series, which plays into this pick, but the bigger point is they have only nine hits in the two games. That does not bode well into a matchup with Castillo, whose 6.51 hits allowed per nine innings ranks behind only Houston’s Justin Verlander.

Again, the expectation is for the Reds righty to be sharp — Castillo is also sporting a 2.03 ERA and 0.90 WHIP in eight day starts at home.

UNDER 4.5 runs first 5 innings (-115)

Continuing to pound on the Castillo bounce-back theme, the five-inning under was 9-3-1 in his 13 starts prior to facing St. Louis. The under has also trended strongly with San Diego on the road, going 10-3-2 in its last 15.

Interestingly, the five-inning under was 8-2 in Strahm’s first 10 starts before the bottom dropped out and the over hit in all of his last five. The fact he likely will not pitch beyond three innings could help the cause for the under.

Reds 3-way ML first inning (+250)

The expectation is Castillo will challenge hitters early — he has given up first-inning runs in just three of his 16 starts at Great American Ball Park and sports a respectable 3.60 first-inning ERA overall.

Before being demoted to the bullpen, Strahm had yielded a first-inning run in each of his last four starts. Cincinnati has pushed across a run in the opening frame in three of its last four games, so this pick is worth a flyer with a decent potential plus-money reward.


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