Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:58 AM

Friday's Best Bet

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Cincinnati Reds vs Colorado Rockies

The rest of MLB is back in action after All-Star week has come and gone, and with a hard trade deadline this year, these next 2+ weeks are all about trying to make a run to establish themselves as a legitimate contender. That's the goal for both the Reds and Rockies, with the former still very much alive in their division and wildcard races, while the latter is only really left with wildcard hopes for their dreams of October baseball. The two teams start a three-game set tonight, and should either of them suffer a sweep, that may be a crushing blow too big to come back from.

Therefore, it's important both sides get out of the 2nd half gates with a victory, and both have set up their rotation to give one of their studs the ball tonight. For Cincinnati, it's Sonny Gray and his 3.59 ERA thanks to just 74 hits allowed in 90.1 IP, and Reds fans are hoping he picks up right where he left off. The Reds have won each of Gray's last five starts overall, and eight of his last nine as well.

For the Rockies, it's Jon Gray, who's numbers - 3.92 ERA (107 hits allowed in 108 IP) – may never look as good as they could given about half his starts come at Coors Field, but Colorado's won four of his last five starts overall and seven of his last nine as well. So we've got two streaking pitchers squaring off in a hitter-friendly ballpark with both hoping the All-Star break didn't cool them off. Which one ends up with the right result tonight?

MLB Odds: Cincinnati (+117) vs Colorado (-127); Total set at 12

It's always interesting to see how teams decide to set up their rotations after the All-Star break, and with the hard trade deadline in place this year, there is even more emphasis on coming out of the gate strong for the majority of teams. Franchises that have already grabbed significant leads in their division races (Dodgers, Astros, Yankees) can afford to go whatever direction they want, as can the bottom feeders with no playoff hopes, but for the rest of the league, a poor two-week stretch out of the All-Star break can effectively kill a season. The Reds and Rockies both fall into that category, and given who they've put out to start tonight, you can already sense that both sides know they need to go on a run right now.

From a specific matchup perspective, the numbers might be better for Gray this year, but this is also going to be his first career start at Coors Field and we all know that field is a different animal for pitchers in this league. I mean, from a sheer numbers perspective, to see Gray's starts go 6-10-1 O/U this year, and the Reds being a dominant 'under' team as well (30-54 O/U), seeing a total of 12 has to feel like an easy 'under' play to most, and we will likely see action head that way on the total as the day goes on.

But you do have to worry about how effective Gray will be in these foreign surroundings, as the common theme among pitchers making their inaugural start at Coors Field is dealing with the lower spin rate on off-speed pitches making them much less effective. Feeding this Rockies lineup a heavy dose of fastballs is how their offensive splits are exponentially better at home, and that is something Cincinnati's Gray will have to work out on the fly. It's a big reason why I don't believe you can look to be backing the Reds tonight, and even those auto-click 'under' bets that many like to make on Reds games isn't something I'd consider as well.

That line of thought suggests that it's 'over' and/or a Rockies ML play is where to go here, and it's the latter that I've settled on for a unit.

Colorado had expected to be a much better team than one sitting a game below the .500 mark at the break, as there are four teams ahead of them in the wildcard race, and two of them are division rivals. Beating these teams that are below the Rockies are a must for Colorado if October baseball is still a legitimate goal, and the All-Star break came at probably the exact right time for this team who had lost six straight going into it. Getting multiple days away from the diamond (and teammates) was what this team likely needed to re-assess where they are now and what reasonable goals are for the 2nd half. It starts with seven straight games at home against losing teams over the next week, and who knows where a 5-2 SU or better run during that time puts them heading to New York next weekend.

Jon Gray has no such issues in learning how to pitch at Coors Field as his namesake on the other side likely will tonight, it's just all about execution. If he executes well this evening, he does have the benefit of facing a Reds lineup that's not the most consistent or productive as it is – another reason why the Reds have been a great 'under' bet is their poor offensive production – and should his teammates come out with a big bounce in their step after time away, this could turn into a comfortable 8-3 type win for the Rockies.

Colorado is 4-0 SU in Gray's last four starts at home, 4-0 SU in home starts for Gray against a losing team, and the team as a whole is on a 15-5 SU run at home against a losing team. Combine those numbers with Cincinnati's 1-5 SU run in their last six against a losing team, and the same 1-5 SU run in Sonny Gray's last six starts against a losing team, and it will end up being a much brighter shade of “Gray” for the Rockies tonight.

MLB Best Bet: Colorado ML

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