July 28 MLB Preview — Colorado Rockies (49-56) at Cincinnati Reds (47-55)

(Alex Wood photo courtesy Richard Mackson/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: Sunday, July 28, Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1:10 p.m. EDT.

Alex Wood makes his long-awaited Reds debut Sunday when Cincinnati closes out its three-game series versus the Colorado Rockies.

Rox rookie Lambert struggling to find rhythm

Rockies rookie Peter Lambert (2-2, 5.93 ERA) is looking to avoid a seventh straight winless start after breaking into the major leagues with back-to-back victories over the Chicago Cubs last month.

Though the right-hander took the loss Tuesday in the nation’s capital, Lambert was a bright spot as he worked in and out of trouble to limit the Nationals to three runs despite yielding nine hits in 5 1-3 innings of Colorado’s 11-1 defeat.

“That was outstanding, really showed something there against the heart of their order, and did it with some really good fastballs,” Rockies manager Bud Black told the club’s official website after Lambert worked out of a two-on, none-out jam in the fifth. “That was great to see from a young pitcher.”

Lambert has been competitive in his three road starts, splitting two decisions with a 3.63 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 17 1-3 innings. His two losses have come in his last three starts, but Colorado has backed him with just two runs combined in those games.

Finally pain-free, Wood set for first start of 2019

Wood (NR) was one of the key pieces in a seven-player offseason deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers in which the Reds also acquired Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, and Kyle Farmer.

While Puig has made an impact, the same could not be said of Kemp — who was released in May — and Farmer, who began a rehab assignment this week after a stint on the injured list with a concussion.

Wood’s season got derailed before it began due to back spasms, and a series of back issues kept delaying his return. After five minor league rehab starts, the left-hander is eager to make his first start — even if it has the feel of an audition for teams seeking starting pitching before Wednesday’s trade deadline.

“I’ve been around a little now, but you come to a new place and the guys respect you and they know what you’ve done in your career and the impact you can have, but that’s different than having that impact that year with that club,” said Wood, who went 9-7 with a 3.68 in 27 starts with the Dodgers last year, to the Reds’ official website. “It sucked really bad not being able to contribute up until this point. The whole time my goal has been to get healthy and be back as fast as possible in order to contribute to this ball club.

“We have a really good group of guys in the clubhouse and I’m just excited to get started on Sunday.”

Wood’s last rehab start came Monday at Double-A Chattanooga, where he allowed one run in six innings while throwing 85 pitches.

The southpaw — who is in a walk year — is no stranger to the Rockies as a former divisional rival the past four seasons, and Wood is 4-3 with a 6.30 ERA in 10 career starts versus Colorado. He last just two innings in the lone matchup last year, giving up six runs before the Dodgers rallied for a 10-7 victory.

Charlie Blackmon has given Wood all sorts of problems, going 9 for 18 with a double, and Nolan Arenado has a pair of homers among his five hits in 21 at-bats.

Notable Trends

The Reds are:

  • 17-36 in their last 53 Sunday games.
  • 1-6 in their last seven home games.
  • 3-7 in their last 10 games.

The Rockies are:

  • 6-2 in their last eight games vs. NL Central teams.
  • 6-2 in their last eight games vs. the Reds.
  • 4-1 in their last five road games vs. the Reds.

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

Rockies OVER 4 runs (-131)

The belief is the Rockies hitters will come out aggressive after being stifled by Anthony DeScalfani on Saturday and challenge Wood. Blackmon will be counted on to set the tone given his track record versus the southpaw, which should filter through the order as Colorado tries to wrap up this road swing on a positive note.

The Rockies have scored four or more runs in eight of their last 15 games and plated runs in bunches versus the Reds — they have scored nine or more in three of the five matchups. Cincinnati has also held opponents under four runs in back-to-back games just twice this month.

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

OVER 10 runs (-115)

The over is 5-2 in Lambert’s last seven starts, and one of those unders came in a 12-run total with the number at 13.5. The expectations are the Rockies are aggressive early against Wood to test his command of the strike zone, and coupled with Lambert likely giving up a few runs, the over is a solid play.

***3-Star Picks***

Rockies +1.5 runs (-131)

This is a tepid backing, at best, for the Rockies. Despite Saturday’s 3-1 defeat, Colorado still has plated 32 runs in the last four meetings between the teams, and the run line still offering a decent return despite taking the 1.5 runs makes the Rockies the play.

Wood is a huge X-factor here with the expectation he will get to throw at least 80 pitches and perhaps max out at 90 to 95. He has fared well against Colorado when not pitching at Coors Field, but there is little expectation beyond a middling performance in his first major league start of 2019.

Rockies +0.5 runs (-136)

With Wood a blank slate for all intents and purposes, the focus turns to Lambert, who has failed to help stake the Rockies to a five-inning lead in his last five starts (0-5). There are also contrasting trends as Colorado is 2-6-1 at the midway point on this road trip but 3-1-1 in the five games versus Cincinnati this season.

The Reds do not make this pick any easier with a 4-8-3 record after five innings since the All-Star break, so the play is to grab the half-run and hope the Rockies do enough damage early against Wood for Lambert to have a cushion.

OVER 5.5 runs first 5 innings (-115)

This is a confidence pick in the Rockies offense bouncing back as previously stated and giving the over a season series win between the teams at 4-2. The five-inning over is 5-4 on Colorado’s road swing and it had also hit in Cincinnati’s previous three games before Saturday.

The five-inning under is 2-1 in Lambert’s road starts but the Rockies have only given him four runs in those games.

Reds OVER 1.5 runs first 3 innings (-110)

Cincinnati has plated two or more runs in the first three innings in each of its last four games, and Lambert has had plenty of issues in the opening three frames. He has a 6.75 ERA in the first and third innings — bracketing a 10.13 ERA in the second.

The rookie right-hander has yielded two or more runs in the first three innings in six consecutive starts, and given the converging trends, the Cincinnati over is worth a flyer here.

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