When you sign-up through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more >
The NL Central has one of the best games on Friday’s MLB schedule as the Cincinnati Reds visit the Milwaukee Brewers in the first game of a three-game series to conclude the unofficial first half of the season. At the midway point of the season, it looks like the NL Central could be a two-horse race between these teams. With the team that finishes second far from assured of a Wild Card spot, head-to-head games between the Reds and Brewers could have extra importance at the end of the season. At the moment, Cincinnati holds a slim two-game lead over Milwaukee atop the NL Central.
The Reds have managed to stay ahead of the Brewers thanks to a five-game winning streak. They will head to Milwaukee fresh off a four-game sweep of the Nationals. But dating back to the end of June, the Reds have won eight of their last nine games, putting them 10 games over .500 despite still having a negative run differential on the season.
As for the Brewers, they eked out a 6-5 win over the Cubs on Thursday to split a four-game series with their rivals and avoid a three-game losing streak. Nevertheless, the Brewers are 8-4 over their last 12 games and can tighten the race in the NL Central by winning this weekend’s series. They can even overtake the Reds for first place by pulling off a sweep.
Fittingly, the odds are tight for Friday’s series opener in Milwaukee. DraftKings lists the Brewers as slight favorites with a -125 moneyline compared to Cincinnati’s +105 moneyline. There is also an over/under of eight runs for Friday’s game.
The Brewers will try to pull closer with the Reds Cincinnati with Corbin Burnes on the mound. While Milwaukee will be confident with its ace on the mound, the former Cy Young winner has not been himself this season. Burnes is just 6-5 with a 4.00 ERA over his first 17 starts of the season. He’s had an unusual amount of ups and downs thus far and doesn’t figure into the Cy Young race at this point.
That being said, Burnes held the Pirates to just one hit (despite allowing two runs) over seven innings in his last start. Since the beginning of June, the Brewers are 4-2 in games that he starts. That stretch includes a start against the Reds in which Burnes allowed three runs on just two hits over six innings of work.
Burnes is surely hoping that the Brewers can provide some run support for him just in case he’s not at his best. The Brew Crew has scored at least six runs in six of the team’s last seven games. This has been far from the most potent lineup in baseball this season. Injuries to Rowdy Tellez, Darin Ruf, and others have also taken away from some of Milwaukee’s depth.
Tellez, in particular, has the second-most home runs on the team, so his absence is meaningful. However, Christian Yelich looks like a former MVP lately, batting .440 with a 1.317 OPS over his last six games. William Contreras and Willy Adames have also caught fire to help fuel the Brewers.
While the Brewers have a former Cy Young winner on the mound Friday night, the Reds will send rookie sensation Andrew Abbott to the hill. Ranked the no. 5 prospect in Cincinnati’s loaded farm system, Abbott has been a revelation since getting called up to the big leagues.
Six starts into his career, the 24-year-old lefty is 4-0 with a 1.21 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP. In his last outing, Abbott dominated the Padres, striking out 12 while allowing just one run on four hits over 7.2 innings. More importantly, the Reds are 6-0 in his starts, including his MLB debut when he tossed six scoreless innings against the Brewers.
Meanwhile, Cincinnati’s young lineup is doing its fair share for the first-place Reds. The Reds have scored at least five runs in six of their last eight games. Many of the names in the Cincinnati lineup aren’t yet household names, but that could soon change. Shortstop Elly De La Cruz is one of the top prospects in baseball. He’s also hitting .387 with a .988 OPS over his last seven games.
Spencer Steer and Tyler Stephenson have been even hotter during that stretch while Jonathan India has hit three of Cincinnati’s 13 home runs over the team’s last seven games. The only caveat is that most of the Reds have either no experience facing Burnes or little success against the former Cy Young winner. However, with the Cincinnati lineup on a hot streak and Abbott being close to unhittable, the Reds look poised to get the better of the inconsistent Burnes and the Brewers in Friday’s series opener.
Even with Abbott pitching at a high level and Burnes capable of tossing a gem every time out, the over/under of eight runs might be a bit of a miscalculation with the way both teams have performed offensively lately. The Reds, in particular, are the third-best team in baseball at hitting the over, which they do nearly 59% of the time. Surprisingly, they are better at hitting the over when on the road than playing at home in a hitter-friendly park. While the Brewers have stayed under the run total more times than not this season, six of their last seven games have ended with at least nine total runs. That trend should continue on Friday with the over being the better option.
Free play options
Special contests for newbies
Bet $5 Get $200 in Bonus Bets
21+ | Terms and conditions apply
Wide range of betting options
Top notch customer service
Promo Code 'SPORTS'
$500 Free Bet
21+ | VA only | Gambling problem? Call 1-800-532-3500
Bryan Zarpentine is a 2008 graduate of Syracuse University and has been working as a freelance writer and editor since 2010. During that time, he has contributed to countless sites while covering baseball, soccer, the NFL, college football, and college basketball.More info on Bryan Zarpentine
© Rebel Penguin ApS 2023 (a subsidiary of Gaming Innovation Group Inc.)
We support responsible gambling. 21+ Only. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-Gambler.
WSN.com is run by iGaming Cloud Inc (a Gaming Innovation Group Subsidiary) and is registered with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) under affiliate vendor ID 89744, with the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) under certificate of registration number SWR-000148, approved by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board as a gaming service provider, under certificate registration number 117656-1, possesses a Vendor Minor sports betting license from the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission (account number 94414163), granted a vendor registration number VR007603-20-001 by the Michigan Gaming Control Board, an interim Sports Wagering Supplier license, under license number SWS 066, issued by the West Virginia Lottery Commission, a sports betting vendor registration, under registration number #100400, issued by the Director of Gaming Licensing and Investigations of the Virginia Lottery to operate in the State of Virginia, and a Vendor Registration issued by the Sports Wagering Committee of the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation.
Advertising disclosure: WSN contains links to online retailers on its website. When people click on our affiliate links and make purchases, WSN earns a commission from our partners, including ESPN and various sportsbooks.