Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, October 1

Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, October 1

DUNKEL INDEX

MLB

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh
Cincinnati hits the road tonight for the NL Wild Card game and looks to take advantage of a Pittsburgh team that is 0-4 in Francisco Liriano's last 4 starts against the Reds. Cincinnati is the pick (+110) according to Dunkel, which has the Reds favored by 1. Dunkel Pick: Cincinnati (+110)

Game 901-902: Cincinnati at Pittsburgh (8:07 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Cincinnati (Cueto) 15.489; Pittsburgh (Liriano) 14.341
Dunkel Line: Cincinnati by 1; 6
Vegas Line: Pittsburgh (-130); 6 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Cincinnati (+110); Under

NHL

Toronto at Montreal
The Canadiens open the season at home tonight and look to take advantage of a Toronto team that is 3-13 in its last 16 Tuesday games. Montreal is the pick (-135) according to Dunkel, which has the Canadiens favored by 1 1/2. Dunkel Pick: Montreal (-135)

Game 1-2: Toronto at Montreal (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Toronto 10.730; Montreal 12.190
Dunkel Line & Total: Montreal by 1 1/2; 5
Vegas Line & Total: Montreal (-135); 5 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Montreal (-135); Under

Game 3-4: Washington at Chicago (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Washington 12.347; Chicago 11.262
Dunkel Line & Total: Washington by 1; 6
Vegas Line & Total: Chicago (-170); 5 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Washington (+150); Over

Game 5-6: Winnipeg at Edmonton (10:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Winnipeg 10.731; Edmonton 12.397
Dunkel Line & Total: Edmonton by 1 1/2; 5
Vegas Line & Total: Edmonton (-150); 5 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Edmonton (-150); Under

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Nick Parsons

Winnipeg Jets +130

These teams played just once in the strike shortened 2012 season and the Oilers would win 5-3 in Winnipeg.

I believe the Jets offer great value in this situation to return the favor in Edmonton tonight.

The Jets

With the division realignment, Winnipeg is now in the Western Conference.

Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec struggled at times last year; there's no question that he'll be looking for much better results in 2013.

Dustin Byfuglien is the focal point on the blue line which also includes Mark Stuart, Tobias Enstrom and Zach Bogosian.

The frontline consists of talented forwards Evander Kane, Andrew Ladd, Devin Setoguchi and Blake Wheeler.

The Oilers

It was another offseason of change for Edmonton, including in management, behind the bench and on the ice.

Craig MacTavish has taken on the managerial role, while Dallas Eakins becomes the new head coach.

Former Bruin Adam Ference was signed to anchor the blue line; Ference has since been named team captain.

Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins round out a young but talented group of forwards.

The biggest obvious weakness remains between the pipes; Devan Dubnyk will once again be the starter, with Jason Labarbera and Richard Bachman backing him up.

The Bottom Line

Edmonton comes into the season with a significant injury; forward Sam Gagner suffered a broken jaw in a preseason contest on Sept. 21st and is out indefinitely. This is a major blow for the young home side as that means that Hall will have to shift over to center.

With a clean bill of health across the board, I'll highly recommend a second look at the visitors in this one.

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Jim Feist

Winnipeg vs. Edmonton
Play: Over 5½

The start of the NHL sneaks up on us here on Tuesday, just in time as baseball moves to their postseason. Neither of these teams are expected to do much again this season. The Jets added Devin Setoguchi and Michael Frolick for depth. The Jets also move from the Southeast Division over to the new Central Division of the Western Conference. The competition will be tough for the Jets with the likes of Chicago, St Louis and Dallas occupying this division. Winnipege was just 1-4-3 in the preseason, so that's not a good omen for them. They also allowed 27 goals in the preseason, most in the Conference. Edmonton added David Perron and defenseman Andrew Ference in the offseason. Unlike Winnipeg, the Oilers had a very good preseason, going 5-2-1 and scoring the most goals in the division (26). Don't expect this to carry over much to the regular season, but the Oilers could be entertaining this year. To start the season, I like the OVER here. Edmonton is the better team to start the season, but Winnipeg just gives up too many goals.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, October 1

Justin Bay

Washington vs. Chicago
Play: Over 5½

Blackhawks are coming into this season looking for a repeat and there is no reason why they shouldn't be back in the Stanley Cup Finals. There lines are stacked again this season with Toews and Kane leading the way along with Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp. Their defense will be returning this year which allowed only 2.02 goals against/game last season. One question that has been lingering is how Corey Crawford's glove hand will perform this season after getting exposed in the Stanley Cup.

The Caps dominated the final two months of last season on their way to a 5th Southeast title in six years, but will they be able to continue that success this year? Defense will be a concern behind their top 3 and that should get exposed in this game against a very strong Blackhawks team. Last year, Washington averaged 3.04 goals/game and 2.71 goals against/game.

Both of these teams can put the puck in the back of the net very quick and this game should be no different. Both goalies should have some nervousness in the start of the game which might allow both offenses to take advantage. It is always a question early in the season whether or not defenses will be at the top of their game which allow some holes.

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SC Live Dogs

Cincinnati Reds +126

The Pirates will be coming into Tuesdays Wild Card game after a three game sweep against the Reds as well as being winners of their last 6 of 8 games. With that being said, the Pirates will be coming off of a day off and into a playoff atmosphere that they have not been exposed to in years past, while the Reds have been in this situation before. The Reds will be pitching Johnny Cueto who comes into Tuesdays game while allowing just 1 run over his last 12 innings of work. Cueto also comes into this game with extra rest which should play well to his advantage as he has posted a 3-1 record with a 2.03 era when pitching on 6 or more days of rest. To take Cueto a step further, he has an excellent track record against this Pirates team where he is 13-4 with a 2.37 era against them. Cueto has faced the Pirates twice this year with both starts being IN Pittsburgh while allowing a combined 1 run through 12 innings of work on 3 hits, 2 BBs & 9 Ks. When we look at Cueto last six outings IN Pittsburgh dating back to 2011, Cueto carried a 1.76 era through 41 innings while allowing 25 hits, 9 BBs, 28 Ks & 1 HR. Through 209 ABs, this Pirates team has a combined .220 average with just 5 HRs off of Cueto. The Pirates will be pitching Francisco Liriano who will be coming into Tuesdays start after pitching the most innings that he has had in a season since 2010. We are going to match that with the fact that Liriano has faced the Reds four times in his career, with all four outings coming in 2013. In those four outings, Liriano allowed a 3.75 era through 24 innings on 17 hits, 10 BBs, 28 Ks & 4 HRs. Also worth noting is that Liriano went 0-3 in those starts while the Pirates were 0-4 in those starts. Look for both bullpens to come out firing with the extra days rest, but we do give the edge to the Reds bullpen where past playoffs have shown that power bullpens win playoff games. Expect Cueto to be the MVP of this game. Play on the Reds at +126.

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Alex Smart

Washington Capitals vs. Chicago Blackhawks    
Play: Chicago Blackhawks -165 

Crawford will start tonight for the defending Stanley Cup Blackhawks. He was amazing in the Blackhawks Stanley Cup winning run and will once again be the key puck stopper for the Chitown boys . He went 19-5-5 with a 1.94 GAA and .926 SV% last year while splitting time with Ray Emery. With Emery gone, Crawford backs the leagues most talented team. Will there be a Stanley Cup hangover for the Hawks. Im betting no! Yes, super star showboat Ovechkin will be in top form for the Caps knowing media eyes will be on this tilt, but that wont be enough for a win. Blackhawks are 42-16 in their last 58 home games

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SPORTS WAGERS

MONTREAL -½ +130 over Toronto

Regulation only. The Leafs were a pretty darn good hockey team last season, finishing as a 5-seed and coming within a whisker of upsetting the Bruins in the first round. Toronto subsequently added some nice pieces in the off-season in Stanley Cup champion Dave Bolland (in his prime), acquired one of the league’s best young goalies in Jonathan Bernier, and re-signed stud forward Nazem Kadri. Additionally, Jake Gardiner is poised to become one of the league’s best offensive defenseman.

That’s nice but let’s forget last year, as it was a bizarre one from start to finish with teams having no practice time whatsoever and scrambling to play a grueling 48-game schedule in a very short time. Last year’s results will allow us to find some outstanding, early season value and fading the Maple Leafs is a good place to start. This Leafs’ season could legitimately provide us with one of those falls-from-grace stories in a hurry. Now you’ve got high expectations for a team that isn’t going to be great in a vicious media market, and the train, oh, how she will wreck. An unimpressive group of no-name defenseman (after the overrated Dion Phaneuf) should hang the unprovens Reimer and Bernier out to dry enough that their confidence can get destroyed early on and both can be bad. Jake Gardiner is a defensive nightmare. They dress Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren every night. Goon hockey is a thing of the past. Tyler Bozak gets top line minutes. After their top five forwards, this Toronto roster is a mess and it sure doesn’t help that David Clarkson will serve a 10-game suspension to begin the year.

What we like about Montreal in the early going is that they are coming off a labor-intensive training camp. That makes a big difference in the first month, as players get into game shape. Montreal will already be in game shape when the puck drops tonight. The Habs are loaded with speed plus talent and one of the premier goaltenders in the league. When he’s on his game, no goaltender is better than Carey Price. The Canadiens boast a superstar defenseman in P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov is one of the best in the game when he’s healthy and this season he at least starts off healthy. Montreal's line combinations are hardly set in stone but Michel Therrien has the makings of a dangerous top-six group. Lastly, and it may not mean nothing but it is worth noting that Randy Carlyle has a .375 winning percentage on opening night while Therrien has a .667 winning mark.


Winnipeg +133 over EDMONTON

The Oilers have been stuck in rebuilding mode for some time but the hope this season is that this youthful bunch, laced with first-round picks and mega talent returns to a place this franchise used to dominate; the postseason and it’s all supposed to begin this season. That may eventually come to pass but there is a ton of hype surrounding the Oilers and that makes them one of the most overvalued squads to begin the year. As stacked as they are up front, the Oilers only have two reliable defensemen in Justin Schultz and Andrew Ference. The Oilers were often caught running around in their own end for long stretches last season and a slight upgrade this year is simply not enough. The Oilers will also have to start the year minus their top two centers in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sam Gagner. That leaves Boyd Gordon, Will Acton and Mark Arcobello to fill the void. Acton and Arcobello have combined to play in one NHL game and Gordon is a career fourth-line center. As a significant favorite, the Oilers are unappealing at best.

The Jets are coming off a year in which they narrowly missed the playoffs in a scenario that felt like they simply ran out of time. They were pushing. Their most important players are all young guys who are truly finding their NHL stride, from 30-goal man (and getting better) Evander Kane, to Blake Wheeler and and Zach Bogosian. They’ve locked up their core long-term, and have added nice complimentary pieces like penalty-killer extrordinaire Michal Frolik, and one-time 30-goal man Devin Setoguchi. With some solid defenders like Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom and Bogosian, the Jets simply need goaltender Andrej Pavelec to step up his game and they’ll be a tough out every night. Some highly touted rookies could also play a significant role. The Jets have put together a solid group of vets, experience, talent, youth and grit. They come into the opener with no hype and less expectations. Defensively, the Jets are the superior group here. They have so much more up front than the Oilers of terms of stability and experience, especially at the all-important center position and absolutely have a great chance at taking this opener.   


Winnipeg/EDMONTON Over 5½

The NHL continues to instill new rules and changes in an attempt to produce more goals. More goals mean more excitement, which turns into more U.S. fans, which turns into more money. It’s always about money.

The shallower nets will expand "Gretzky's office", that space behind the net where playmakers feast. As the new frame doesn't jut out so much, the path from post to post from behind the net will be shorter. There's another difference that could alter scoring, too. The corners where the goalposts meet the crossbar are significantly closer to being a 90-degree angle now than with the previous goal, which had more a curve than an abrupt angle. It is not a huge change. The goal-mouth opening, as measured from the inside of the pipes, remains the same: 6 feet wide by 4 feet high, or 24 square feet. But the new shape is certainly more rectangular than before, and it will be interesting to see what happens to pucks that used to ring off the corners of the old nets. Perhaps now they ring the pipe and score, or at least carom into the slot rather than up and out of play. Considering how many goals are scored off scrambles and rebounds instead of clean shots or fancy set-ups, it will make a difference. These subtle changes could make a big difference for the best players in the world. It’s also likely to make a difference in those wraparound attempts, whereas the goaltender used to get his leg across just in time to cover the other post. Some of those will find the back of the net now.

History tells us that small changes can make a big difference at the highest level of sport. And it's not just hockey. Following Bob Gibson's record-setting performance for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1968, major-league baseball lowered pitching mounds by five inches and lowered the highest reaches of the strike zone by about an inch. The cumulative earned-run average in 1968 was 2.98. The next season, ERAs shot up to 3.61. Hockey would no doubt celebrate a similar boost but here’s the interesting part. The average goals per game last season were 5.3 goals and that’s why almost every total is 5½. No question these new dimensions are an attempt to increase scoring. That is an absolute. However, the oddsmakers have not made the adjustment and we’ll attempt to take advantage until they do. We’re not suggesting the totals should be 6 but we are suggesting that there should be significantly more juice on playing the number over 5½ but that is not the case. With that, we’re playing every total today over 5½ with plus money on all of them because that is exactly where the value sits.


Washington/CHICAGO Over 5½

The NHL continues to instill new rules and changes in an attempt to produce more goals. More goals mean more excitement, which turns into more U.S. fans, which turns into more money. It’s always about money.

The shallower nets will expand "Gretzky's office", that space behind the net where playmakers feast. As the new frame doesn't jut out so much, the path from post to post from behind the net will be shorter. There's another difference that could alter scoring, too. The corners where the goalposts meet the crossbar are significantly closer to being a 90-degree angle now than with the previous goal, which had more a curve than an abrupt angle. It is not a huge change. The goal-mouth opening, as measured from the inside of the pipes, remains the same: 6 feet wide by 4 feet high, or 24 square feet. But the new shape is certainly more rectangular than before, and it will be interesting to see what happens to pucks that used to ring off the corners of the old nets. Perhaps now they ring the pipe and score, or at least carom into the slot rather than up and out of play. Considering how many goals are scored off scrambles and rebounds instead of clean shots or fancy set-ups, it will make a difference. These subtle changes could make a big difference for the best players in the world. It’s also likely to make a difference in those wraparound attempts, whereas the goaltender used to get his leg across just in time to cover the other post. Some of those will find the back of the net now.

History tells us that small changes can make a big difference at the highest level of sport. And it's not just hockey. Following Bob Gibson's record-setting performance for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1968, major-league baseball lowered pitching mounds by five inches and lowered the highest reaches of the strike zone by about an inch. The cumulative earned-run average in 1968 was 2.98. The next season, ERAs shot up to 3.61. Hockey would no doubt celebrate a similar boost but here’s the interesting part. The average goals per game last season were 5.3 goals and that’s why almost every total is 5½. No question these new dimensions are an attempt to increase scoring. That is an absolute. However, the oddsmakers have not made the adjustment and we’ll attempt to take advantage until they do. We’re not suggesting the totals should be 6 but we are suggesting that there should be significantly more juice on playing the number over 5½ but that is not the case. With that, we’re playing every total today over 5½ with plus money on all of them because that is exactly where the value sits.


Toronto/MONTREAL Over 5½

The NHL continues to instill new rules and changes in an attempt to produce more goals. More goals mean more excitement, which turns into more U.S. fans, which turns into more money. It’s always about money.

The shallower nets will expand "Gretzky's office", that space behind the net where playmakers feast. As the new frame doesn't jut out so much, the path from post to post from behind the net will be shorter. There's another difference that could alter scoring, too. The corners where the goalposts meet the crossbar are significantly closer to being a 90-degree angle now than with the previous goal, which had more a curve than an abrupt angle. It is not a huge change. The goal-mouth opening, as measured from the inside of the pipes, remains the same: 6 feet wide by 4 feet high, or 24 square feet. But the new shape is certainly more rectangular than before, and it will be interesting to see what happens to pucks that used to ring off the corners of the old nets. Perhaps now they ring the pipe and score, or at least carom into the slot rather than up and out of play. Considering how many goals are scored off scrambles and rebounds instead of clean shots or fancy set-ups, it will make a difference. These subtle changes could make a big difference for the best players in the world. It’s also likely to make a difference in those wraparound attempts, whereas the goaltender used to get his leg across just in time to cover the other post. Some of those will find the back of the net now.

History tells us that small changes can make a big difference at the highest level of sport. And it's not just hockey. Following Bob Gibson's record-setting performance for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1968, major-league baseball lowered pitching mounds by five inches and lowered the highest reaches of the strike zone by about an inch. The cumulative earned-run average in 1968 was 2.98. The next season, ERAs shot up to 3.61. Hockey would no doubt celebrate a similar boost but here’s the interesting part. The average goals per game last season were 5.3 goals and that’s why almost every total is 5½. No question these new dimensions are an attempt to increase scoring. That is an absolute. However, the oddsmakers have not made the adjustment and we’ll attempt to take advantage until they do. We’re not suggesting the totals should be 6 but we are suggesting that there should be significantly more juice on playing the number over 5½ but that is not the case. With that, we’re playing every total today over 5½ with plus money on all of them because that is exactly where the value sits.

Passing MLB

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, October 1

Jimmy Boyd

Edmonton Oilers -142

The Oilers saw a lot of positive changes in the offseason, and they are clearly the better team in this matchup. They moved to the Pacific Division, and had several administrative changes take place. For starters, they have former vice president of hockey operations and one-time coach, Craig MacTavish as their new general manager. They also have a new head coach with Dallas Eakins. Eakins was coach of the AHL's Toronto Marlies, and developed several quality players for the Maple Leafs.

The Winnipeg Jets have not reached the postseason since 2007, and they did nothing in the offseason to improve the team enough to get there again. The Jets were the worst team in the NHL on the power play, with a 13.8% conversion rate. They were also 24th on the penalty kill at 79.7% last season. The Oilers have won five of the last seven meetings between these teams, including a 5-3 victory last year in February. With all the moves made in the offseason, they should have no problem improving to 6-2 in the series against the Jets.

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Dave Price

Reds / Pirates Under 6½

The under has been the play when these two NL Central rivals do battle. In fact, they are on a 17-8-3 unders run in the last 28 matchups overall and a 13-6-2 unders run in the last 21 meetings in Pittsburgh. The Reds have come in under the total in five of their last six games, and the Pirates have finished below the number in four of their last six. Liriano has a 1.47 home ERA this season and has held the Reds to two earned runs or fewer in three of his four starts against them. Cueto has a 2.37 career ERA against the Pirates, and the Reds are 24-8-1 under in his last 33 starts overall. Take the Under.

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LT Profits

Reds / Pirates Under 6½

Francisco Liriano looks like the right choice to start for the Pittsburgh Pirates in their first playoff game since 1992 when they host the Cincinnati Reds Tuesday, as despite not being as consistent lately as he was earlier on, he still finished 16-8 with a 3.02 ERA and 163 strikeouts vs. 63 walks in 161.1 innings. The southpaw is facing a lefty filled Cincinnati lineup that batted only .235 vs. left-handers for the entire season and .221 against them the last 10 games. Cincinnati counters with Johnny Cueto, who made just 11 starts this year due to a long stint on the Disabled List but allowed three runs or less in 10 of them while posting a 2.82 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. He has the support of a Reds’ bullpen that has a 1.42 ERA the last 10 games. The ‘under’ is 24-8-1 in Cueto’s last 33 starts overall.

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Big Kat Sports

Washington vs. Chicago
Take: Over 5.5

The Chicago Blackhawks will raise their second Stanley Cup banner to the rafters in the last four years when they take on the Washington Capitals tonight at the UnitedCenter in the WindyCity. We had a lean on Chicago when we made our numbers but it seems there was a bit of a Stanley Cup tax placed on the Hawks so we’ll look at the over in tonight’s opening night contest. These are two of the highest scoring teams in the league and both starting goalies have been known to let up a soft one here or there throughout the season. Both teams were in the top four in GPG last season with the Hawks lighting the lamp at a 3.10 GPG clip while the Caps were right behind them at 3.06. Washington, however, is the team that is going to help us hit this total tonight as they were also in the top 10 in goals allowed at 2.71 GAG. Expect a jacked up Chicago team after the banner ceremony and look for them to get any early jump on Washington tonight. Pair all that with the fact that both teams take some dumb penalties and that both have excellent power plays and we’ll look for the goal judges to get a workout tonight at the UnitedCenter.

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Denver Money

Washington Capitals +150

I stated it in one of my other threads that I am not a believer in the Blackhawks this year and I don't think they will get it done at home tonight with all the excitement in the arena. I look for the Capitals to come out hot tonight and get an early lead and take the season opener on the road. If you like to play the heavy juice I think the Capitals +1.5 is a great play, but personally not a fan of laying that much juice.

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Craig Davis

Free play of the day on the Reds and Pirates to go under the posted total.

Can you say pitcher's duel?

While I completely believe both of these offenses are clearly capable of scoring in bunches, I just don't believe it will happen with these two aces on the mound.

For starters, Johnny Cueto is back and has pitched well since his return from the DL Sept. 16. He allowed just one earned run in 12 innings of work over 2 games in his work since returning.

Against the Pirates in his career, Cueto is 13-4 with a 2.37 ERA and even better at Pittsburgh (8-2, 1.90 ERA).

Francisco Liriano is 8-1 at home this season with 1.47 ERA and has only pitched there three times in his last 10 starts.

He's itching to get back home and pitch a complete game to help his team get to the real playoffs.

Take the UNDER as your free play of the day.

1♦ CINCINNATI-PITTSBURGH UNDER

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Tony Bucca

Pittsburgh Pirates -135

Cincy has trouble vs left handed starters. Cueto is much better at home than on the road. His ERA on the road is 3.90. Liriano is 8-1 at home with an outstanding 1.47 ERA and .96 WHIP.

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Doug Upstone

Winnipeg vs. Edmonton
Play: Under 5½

For the start of the NFL season, we have charted the line movement on the total for Winnipeg and Edmonton and given it's current direction, history tells us the the UNDER 32-16 the past two years. Play UNDER 5.5 in this hockey lid-lifter.

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Carlos Salazar

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Cincinnati Reds
Play: Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates have had the Reds number the last three games and with Liriano on the mound tonight who has a 1.47 ERA at home this year it will be more of the same. Look for the Pirates to advance to face the Cardinals on Thursday with a victory tonight at home.

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Dave Mathews

Reds / Pirates Under 6½

Pittsburgh takes on the Reds in this wild card matchup. Francisco Liriano is 8-1 at home with a 1.47 ERA in 11 starts. Johnny Cueto is 13-4 with a 2.37 ERA in 21 career outings against the Pirates. Cincinnati is hitting just .235 against left-handers this season. Liriano will be dealing on the mound against the Reds, while Cueto will keep his team in the game.

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Bob Balfe

Pittsburgh Pirates -135

This is much like last night’s game. You just can’t go against a team that has been hot ending the season. The Reds were brutal down the stretch. Both pitchers are very good, but I like the Pirates bullpen a touch more and the fact they are home is a huge advantage. This is what you play 162 games for. Take the Pirates.

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