Aug. 26 MLB Preview — Cincinnati Reds (60-69) at Miami Marlins (47-82)

(Sonny Gray photo courtesy David Kohl/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: Monday, Aug. 26, Marlins Park, Miami, Fla., 7:10 p.m. EDT.

The Cincinnati Reds hope Sonny Gray will continue to be immune to their recent struggles as the staff ace seeks a fourth straight winning start Monday night in their series opener versus the Miami Marlins.

Gray out to end Reds’ six-game road skid

Cincinnati (60-69) has dropped six straight on the road and 10 of 14 overall after being swept at last-place Pittsburgh and giving up 26 runs in the three defeats. Trevor Bauer was unable to protect a three-run lead given to him in the top of the first as the Reds lost 9-8 on Sunday.

Gray (9-6, 2.92 ERA) will try to serve as streak-stopper, something he has done while winning his last two starts. The right-hander was sharp Tuesday against San Diego, striking out 10 while allowing a solo homer and three other hits in six innings of Cincinnati’s 3-2 victory.

Gray, who is 6-1 with a 1.58 ERA over his last 10 starts, was upset at losing his 23 2-3 inning shutout streak when Josh Naylor took him deep in the sixth.

“I was kind of stubborn there on the pitch. I think I shook five times to get to that fastball,” Gray told the Reds’ official website. “I think it deserved to get hit for a home run. It was a fun stretch, but just have to try to keep going.”

Had it not been for a comebacker that hit Gray in the leg in the fourth inning of his April 11 matchup with the Marlins, he would likely be trying to beat them for a second time this year. The righty had fanned six and conceded just two hits in four innings of Cincinnati’s 5-0 win before leaving as a precautionary measure.

Though rookie Aristides Aquino‘s home run pace has slowed down, he still has 12 in 23 games since being called up. He was productive in Pittsburgh, hitting safely in all three games, and is 7 for 19 during a modest five-game hitting streak.

Lopez to be activated off IL to start series opener for Fish

Caleb Smith was originally in line to start this series opener, but manager Don Mattingly is expected to activate Pablo Lopez (5-5, 4.23) off the injured list and give him his first start since June 15. Smith and Tuesday’s scheduled starter Sandy Alcantara are both being pushed back a day to fit in Lopez.

Lopez looked sharp in his final rehab outing, yielding one earned run and two overall in six innings while pitching for Triple-A New Orleans on Wednesday.

“It’s always better to finish on a better note than I started,” Lopez told the Marlins’ official website. “In the beginning, I was trying to find my way on the mound instead of just going out there competing and trying to get batters out.”

Prior to injuring his shoulder, the 23-year-old was in the middle of his best run of the season — he had gone 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 25 innings over four starts before landing on the IL.

Lopez did not fare all that well against the Reds earlier this year, giving up four runs and seven hits in 4 2-3 innings while losing to Gray and Cincinnati.

Miami (47-82) is seeking back-to-back wins for the first time since July 28-29 after edging Philadelphia 3-2 on Sunday in the rubber game of their series. The Marlins are 7-16 against NL Central opponents this year.

Notable Trends

The Marlins are:

  • 1-5 in their last six Monday games.
  • 4-13 in their last 17 games vs. starters with a sub-1.15 WHIP.
  • 4-10 in their last 14 home games vs. sub-.500 teams.

The Reds are:

  • 14-3 in Gray’s last 17 starts.
  • 4-1 in Gray’s last five starts vs. NL East teams.
  • 5-1 in Gray’s last six starts during game 1 of a series.

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

Reds 3-way ML first 5 innings (-110)

This is a better value pick than laying the half-run with the Reds at -125, and Gray has not allowed a run in the first five innings of his last four starts. The right-hander has helped the Reds go 9-1-2 at the midway point in his last 12 starts, and opponents have failed to score in seven of those contests.

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

Reds -1.5 runs (+105)

This pick is about Gray continuing his roll and also taking care of some unfinished business in his first matchup of the year with the Marlins. Don’t be taken in by the fact Gray has only one road win in his last seven starts — he has a 2.36 ERA in those games and the Reds have gone 5-2 in those contests.

***3-Star Picks***

UNDER 7.5 runs (-110)

The hedge is Gray continues the status quo for Reds pitching against the Marlins set in April, when they held Miami to one run and 12 hits combined in a three-game sweep in Cincinnati.

The under has been trending for Cincinnati, going 5-1-1 in its last seven and 10-1 in the last 11 against sub-.400 teams. The under is also riding a four-game run between the teams in Miami and 6-1 in the last seven overall.

Reds’ Suarez to record RBI (-136)

With the run totals for each team looking too on the nose, trying Eugenio Suarez as a prop play makes sense. The Reds third baseman went 6 for 11 with two homers and four RBIs in the previous series between the teams in April and belted a solo homer in Sunday’s loss to Pittsburgh for his first road RBI in 11 games.

Suarez is a lifetime .321 hitter with five homers and 12 RBIs in 30 career games against Miami.

UNDER 4 runs first 5 innings (-125)

Lopez’s return off the injured list is a red flag against being aggressive on this pick, but Gray’s form gives the under more than a fighting chance. The five-inning under is 7-2 in his last nine starts, and the teams delivered the under in all three games in Cincinnati in April.

Marlins UNDER 1.5 runs first 5 innings (-115)

A confidence pick in Gray coupled with Miami’s recent trend of not scoring runs consistently in the first five innings. Gray’s form has been noted previously, but the Marlins have scored one or no runs in the first five innings in nine of their last 15 games — and they were held two runs on three other occasions.

Gray has held teams under two runs in the first five innings in eight of his last 10 starts and likely would have finished the job against Miami earlier this year if not for taking a comebacker off his shin.

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