Fresh off a perfect 2-0 day for our baseball subscribers with both selections being underdog winners. Now 8-1 on the season with our MLB Underdogs. Also a solid 3-1 on our unit rated totals to start the season. Friday we are releasing our National League Game of the Week, now 14-6 with GOW releases.
976 Tampa Bay at Cincinnati
A terrific pitching matchup will open up a three-game interleague series at Great American Ball Park when David Price and the Rays take on Johnny Cueto and the Reds. Price was outstanding in his first start of the season against the Jays and battled his way through six innings with a high fever against Texas. Price is pounding the strike zone right now and pitching from ahead, throwing first-pitch strikes to nearly 79 percent of batters through two starts. According to PITCHf/x data, opposing batters are swinging at nearly 35 percent of pitches outside the strike zone against Price and a lineup like the Reds that is unfamiliar with Price should meet or exceed that number.
Price has been a bit unlucky on balls in play with a .341 average against, a number that's 60 points above his career average. That will undoubtedly come down. His command has been elite so far this season with one home run allowed in 13.1 and just one walk issued to 56 batters.
Unfortunately for Price in this one, the Rays lineup is off to a slow start and will be down a hitter thanks to interleague play. The Rays are slightly above average with a 102 wRC+, but have just a .310 wOBA and their .375 SLG puts them just a hair above the bottom third of the league.
On the other side, Johnny Cueto has been nothing short of outstanding in his first two starts. Cueto was saddled with an injury-prone tag after last season, but those concerns aren't showing up in his 2014 velocity. Cueto comfortably sat in the mid-90s in his last start against the Mets and carried that velocity thrown the duration of his start. He induced 15 swings and misses and worked very effectively on the inside half of the plate.
Like Price, Cueto has very good control and that will prevent free baserunners in this game. Over his last 433.2 innings, Cueto has posted a 2.61 ERA. He's one of those underrated starters that people don't talk about. The Rays have just 57 combined plate appearances against Cueto, and those that have faced him have posted a .438 OPS. It will take a time or two through the lineup for each offense to get going against a pitcher they don't have much of a track record against.
The Reds offense has really struggled. They're currently performing at a rate that is 23% below league average and their .287 wOBA is the fifth-worst in all of baseball. It's hard to see those numbers improving against Price, especially when Jay Bruce and Joey Votto, both lefties, are the biggest offensive contributors and Price should be able to neutralize those guys.
PLAY: TB/CIN UNDER