Sept. 14 MLB Picks and Preview — Cincinnati Reds (69-79) at Arizona Diamondbacks (75-73)

(Merrill Kelly photo courtesy Gregory Fisher/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: Saturday, Sept. 14, Chase Field, Phoenix, Ariz., 8:40 p.m. EDT.

Not all exclusive clubs are worth joining.

Merrill Kelly looks to avoid becoming just the seventh rookie pitcher this century to lose 15 games Saturday night when the Arizona Diamondbacks continue their series against the Cincinnati Reds.

DeScalfani makes third bid for career-high 10th win for Reds

Anthony DeScalfani (9-8, 4.06 ERA) has been stuck on nine wins for a pair of starts and hopes to not be stuck there at season’s end like he was in 2015 and 2016.

The right-hander is looking to make improvements on his start against Arizona from Sunday, when he gave up a two-run homer to Eugenio Suarez and one other run over six innings. The Reds, though, got him off the hook for a loss by rallying for a 4-3 victory.

DeScalfani is also trying to further his recent road success, having conceded just one run in 13 innings in his last two starts outside Cincinnati. The righty is 3-4 with a 4.48 ERA in 14 road starts but has held opponents to one or no runs in seven of them.

The Diamondbacks have struggled to solve DeScalfani, who enters this game 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA in five career matchups. He recorded his lone complete game and shutout at Chase Field in 2016, firing a four-hitter with nine strikeouts in a 13-0 Reds rout.

Ketel Marte is 1 for 5 versus DeScalfani, but that lone hit was a home run.

Kelly looks to avoid rookie 15-loss club

There have been only six rookies since the turn of the century to lose 15 games in a season, and the group added that sixth member Thursday night when Spencer Turnbull of the Detroit Tigers lost to the New York Yankees in the second game of a doubleheader.

Kelly (10-14, 4.68) is on the cusp of making it seven as he tries to avoid losing back-to-back starts. The 30-year-old is not like most rookies as he spent four seasons in the Korean Baseball League before returning stateside after signing a two-year deal with Arizona last December.

A loss between now and the end of the season would see Kelly join Turnbull, Chris Reitsma (2001, Cincinnati) Jeremy Bonderman (2003, Detroit Tigers), Greg Smith (2008, Oakland), John Lannan (2008, Washington), and Wily Peralta (2013, Milwaukee) as the only rookie 15-game losers in the 21st century.

A lack of run support and Pete Alonso combined to make the right-hander a loser against the New York Mets on Monday night. Kelly served up a pair of solo homers to the likely NL Rookie of the Year and allowed one other run in six innings of a 3-1 road loss.

“He has 40 — how many homers? — for a reason. He is a pretty good hitter,” Kelly told the club’s official website. “I thought those two pitches were decent. I think they probably — if I’m nitpicking — could have been a little bit more on the edge.”

The lack of run support has been more prevalent at home for Kelly, who has canceled that out to a degree by being more effective there. He is 5-5 with a 3.50 ERA in 14 starts at Chase Field, where his 3.17 run support average is the fifth-lowest in the league.

Kelly is 1-3 with a 4.33 ERA in five starts versus NL Central opponents but limited Milwaukee to one run in seven innings July 18 in the only home outing of the five.

Notable Trends

The Diamondbacks are:

  • 4-9 in Kelly’s last 13 starts.
  • 1-5 in Kelly’s last six starts following a quality start in his previous appearance.
  • 1-5 in Kelly’s last six starts during game 2 of a series.

The Reds are:

  • 5-1 in DeScalfani’s last six starts vs. NL West teams.
  • 4-1 in DeScalfani’s last five starts during game 2 of a series.

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

Diamondbacks UNDER 4.5 runs (-110)

A fade on the Diamondbacks here as they have totaled 10 runs during their six-game losing streak after Friday night’s 4-3 defeat. They have gone 7 for 43 (.163) with runners in scoring position during their skid and 8 for 38 (.211) versus Cincinnati on the season.

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

UNDER 9 runs (-115)

The under is trending strongly with both pitchers, entering this matchup on a five-game run with DeScalfani and 6-1-1 in his last eight starts versus teams with winning records. The under is 7-2-1 in Kelly’s last 10 starts at Chase Field, with the combination of the right-hander being effective and poor run support the primary drivers.

***3-Star Picks***

Reds ML (+121)

DeScalfani is essentially pitching for his future down the stretch since he is eligible for arbitration before signing his next contract in the offseason. The feeling is he will make the needed adjustments from his last start against Arizona and pitch well enough to get that elusive 10th victory.

Reds +0.5 runs first 5 innings (-125)

While not fully on board with DeScalfani early, the road team has led at the midway point in the four games between the teams this year. And with a reasonable rate of return while getting the half-run, the conservative play here against a struggling Diamondbacks offense makes sense.

UNDER 5 runs first 5 innings (-121)

A confidence pick in Kelly to continue to pitch well at home and for the Diamondbacks to continue struggling runs for him there. The five-inning under is 9-4-1 in his 14 home starts and also posted a 5-2-1 mark in DeScalfani’s last eight outings outside Cincinnati.

Diamondbacks UNDER 2.5 runs first 5 innings (-131)

Another pick against the Diamondbacks offense, which has not scored more than three runs in any game during their current losing streak and totaled three or fewer runs in nine of their last 12 games overall.

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