Milwaukee Brewers vs. Cincinnati Reds
Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Corbin Burnes has not been his normal Cy Young-caliber self in 2023, starting the second half of the season with 3.27 BB/9 innings. Despite his struggle with free passes, Burnes has still recorded a strong .211 opponent batting average and a 1.14 WHIP. The results thus far have not been spectacular, a 7-5 record with a 3.94 ERA, but the real Corbin Burnes is still simmering beneath the surface value numbers.
The up-and-down season for Burnes is evident in his two previous outings against the Cincinnati Reds. In his June 2nd start, Burnes went six innings, allowed just two hits, but four walks and three earned runs; in his July 7th start against the Reds, he went six innings, allowed only three hits, but four walks and two earned runs. That's just five hits in 12 innings pitched, but still, eight walks.
For the Brewers to win, they'll need Burnes to keep the ball over the plate.
For the Reds to win, they'll need to keep the ball in the park.
Cincinnati has tabbed Graham Ashcraft as the starter for Friday, and for Ashcraft, Great American Ballpark has been very unfriendly. Ashcraft currently sports a 7.95 ERA at home. Also, his season total ERA is 6.28, his opponent batting average is .290, he has a 3.86 BB/9, and a 17.1 precent HR/Flyball ratio, fourth worst among pitchers that have thrown 80 or more innings. Suddenly, Burnes is looking pretty good.
A few of Milwaukee's big bats have been heating up of late. Shortstop Willy Adames is batting just .213 this season, but posted a .310 average with four home runs and 11 RBI in his last seven games prior to the All-Star break. Those solid numbers were boosted mainly by two games against these Reds, collecting three home runs and six RBI on July 7th and July 8th, combined. Catcher William Contreras has been strong as well, recording a .400 batting average in the final week before the break.
Christian Yelich is the big bat in this lineup and has been playing more like his now-distant MVP days. Yelich has been progressively better as the season wears on, with a .228/.310/.347 slashline in April, a .284/.376/.466 line in May, a .320/.417/.495 line in June, and a .364/.447/.667 line so far in July.
Many of Cincinnati's bats cooled down recently, with Matt McLain (.226), Jonathan India (.207), Spencer Steer (.214), and Tyler Stephenson (.200) all struggling a week before the break. One bat that didn't cool off though, is Elly De La Cruz; in the same time frame, De La Cruz hit .467.
These two teams sit atop the National League Central, with the Brewers just one game back of the Reds. If Burnes can avoid getting damaged by the absolute juggernaut, that is Elly De La Cruz, and the Brew Crew can keep bashing against the struggling Ashcraft, then the NL Central should be all tied up on Friday night.
MLB Best Bets for Brewers vs. Reds
Brewers -1.5 (FanDuel +126)
Christian Yelich OVER 1.5 Hits (FanDuel +145)
Willy Adames OVER 0.5 RBI (FanDuel +120)