Matchup: Pittsburgh Pirates at Cincinnati Reds

Date/Time: September 26, 7:05 p.m. ET

TV: FOX Sports Ohio

MLB Betting Odds From 5Dimes Sportsbook

Probable Starters: PIT: Vance Worley (8-4, 2.93) v. CIN: Mike Leake (11-13, 3.78)

Moneyline: Pittsburgh -135

Total: 7

The Pittsburgh Pirates have assured themselves of a playoff spot in consecutive seasons for the first time since they made three straight postseason trips from 1990-92. All that’s left to decide is whether they will host the NL Wild Card, travel to San Francisco, or win the NL Central Division. The Pirates can take one step towards clinching a home playoff game on Friday night against the Cincinnati Reds.

Vance Worley will take the mound for the Pirates and he has been the latest great find by GM Neal Huntington. Worley, who was atrocious for the Minnesota Twins last season, is 8-4 with a 2.93 ERA since joining the Pirates in mid-June. It seemed like the shine was coming off Worley prior to his last start. The righty had allowed 18 runs on 33 hits in a five-start span before throwing eight shutout innings against the Brewers on September 21. Worley got 11 days of rest between starts and now takes his regular turn against the Reds.

Mike Leake will wrap up a fine season for the Reds on Friday night. Leake set career highs in strikeouts, innings pitched, and a career-best in FIP, though his ERA ticked up from 3.37 to 3.78 this season. Leake seems to be running out of steam in the month of September with 19 runs allowed in 21 innings over his four starts this month. The opposition has posted a .985 OPS this month against Leake.

Worley will be facing the Reds for the sixth time. In four starts and one relief appearance, he is 2-1 with a 4.26 ERA. Worley has a start and a relief appearance this season with a 1-0 record and a 3.24 ERA. The Pirates are 10-6 in Worley’s 16 starts for a profit of 3.87 units.

Leake will be facing the Pirates for the 20th time. He’s 6-3 with a 3.33 ERA. This season, Leake is 1-0 with a 3.71 ERA in four starts. The Reds are 12-20 in Leake’s 32 starts for a loss of 7.79 units.

Free MLB Pick: Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates are looking to roll into the postseason on a high note and the Reds are ready to get home. Leake has definitely hit the wall in September and that’s understandable with a new career high in innings pitched. He’s also pitched well in most of his outings with no run support and that has gotten frustrating.

Matchup: Kansas City Royals at Chicago White Sox

Date/Time: September 26, 8:05 p.m. ET

TV: WCIU

MLB Betting Odds From 5Dimes Sportsbook

Probable Starters: KC: Jeremy Guthrie (12-11, 4.28) v. CWS: Hector Noesi (8-11, 4.76)

Moneyline: Kansas City -139

Total: 8

The Kansas City Royals have not yet clinched the second wild card spot, but it certainly appears that they will be punching their ticket for the postseason. They’ll get another great chance to pick up a win on Friday when Jeremy Guthrie takes on Hector Noesi. The Royals have not made the playoffs since 1985 and they won the World Series that year.

Jeremy Guthrie continues to be a reliable innings eater for the Royals pitching staff. Guthrie has thrown at least 175 innings in each of the last eight seasons and will top the 200-inning mark with at least 4.1 innings of work on Friday. That would be the fifth time in six seasons that Guthrie has pitched at least 200 innings. He’s pitched well since the All-Star Break with a 7-3 record and a 3.82 ERA.

Hector Noesi has made 26 starts for a White Sox rotation that was desperate to have anybody with a decent arm eat up some innings. Noesi has done that and has pitched adequately since the All-Star Break with a 4.22 ERA. He has allowed 15 home runs in 79 innings over that span, however. Since August 15, Noesi has a 5.00 ERA as he may be tiring out after some bullpen usage for the Rangers early on and a career high in innings pitched.

Guthrie will be facing the White Sox for the 26th time overall and 24th start. Guthrie is 9-8 with a 3.49 ERA. This season, Guthrie is 2-1 with a 3.70 ERA. The Royals are 18-13 for a profit of 5.81 units.

Noesi will be facing the Royals for the third time overall and second time as a starter. That start came earlier this season and Noesi gave up five runs, two earned, on eight hits in just 3.2 innings of work. The White Sox are 14-12 for a profit of 6.16 units in Noesi’s 26 starts.

Free MLB Pick: Kansas City Royals

The Royals can taste that first postseason berth in 20 seasons and the lowly White Sox and a mediocre starting pitcher are not going to stand in their way. They have a huge bullpen advantage and a lot of lefties that are going to give Noesi problems.