A rainy weekend series in St. Louis leads into what will likely be a gloomy Monday night game in Cincinnati for the Reds as they take on their NL Central rival Pittsburgh Pirates tonight at 7:10 PM. It’ll be the first of three games between the division bottom dwellers, with both teams sitting at 11-13, 2 games behind the 13-11 division-leading Chicago Cubs.
Amir Garrett will take the mound for the Redlegs tonight. After stringing together three bonafide Major League starts, including a Win against these same Pirates at their home PNC Park, the young lefty struggled in his fourth start of the year, giving up 9 ER in 3.1 innings against the Milwaukee Reds Killers Brewers. It was clear that Garrett didn’t have his normal stuff in that outing, which isn’t unexpected for a pitcher just getting started in his Major League career. In fact, as our own Jason Linden has pointed out numerous times throughout the years on Twitter, these (fortunately occasional) blow-ups have been a part of Garrett’s game for a few seasons. He’ll look to get back on track tonight, as he did so many times in his Minor League career.
It’ll be the Ace of the Pirate pitching staff opposing Garrett tonight as Gerrit Cole will take the mound for Pittsburgh. Cole has notoriously struggled against the Reds in his career: He’s 0-6 with a 5.44 against our Redlegs, and Cincinnati hitters have a team OPS+ of 140 when Cole is on the mound. If you’re going to tear up a specific pitcher, might as well tear up the Ace of a rival pitching staff, right?
|3B Josh Harrison (121 wRC+)||CF Billy Hamilton (37 wRC+)|
|SS Jordy Mercer (64 wRC+)||SS Zack Cozart (171 wRC+)|
|CF Andrew McCutchen (98 wRC+)||1B Joey Votto (129 wRC+)|
|LF Gregory Polanco (84 wRC+)||LF Adam Duvall (115 wRC+)|
|RF Jose Osuna (171 wRC+)||RF Scott Schebler (135 wRC+)|
|1B Josh Bell (121 wRC+)||3B Scooter Gennett (115 wRC+)|
|2B Phil Gosselin (-14 wRC+)||2B Jose Peraza (37 wRC+)|
|C Chris Stewart (140 wRC+)||C Tucker Barnhart (69 wRC+)|
|P Gerrit Cole (3.59 xFIP)||P Amir Garrett (3.67 xFIP)|
For what it’s worth, this is probably pretty close to what I’d trot out onto the field as Reds manager, with the obvious exception of Eugenio Suarez getting an off-day. In his stead, Scooter Gennett will try to add to his rapidly growing Cincinnati urban legend status, and maybe hit a few homers for his birthday. The Zack Cozart hitting second experiment continues, as it should, in my opinion. Tucker Barnhart gets his second straight start at Catcher as we try to figure out just how Bryan Price will balance having three catchers on his roster. This could be related to Amir Garrett being on the mound, or it could just be getting Devin an extra day of rest after travelling back to the Queen City.
The Pirates will roll out a lineup that looks a little differently than we’re used to seeing, mostly due to the absence of Starling Marte. Pittsburgh has been pretty unlucky to start the 2017 campaign from a roster standpoint – some of the role players, including guys like Francisco Cervelli, David Freese, and Antonio Bastardo have been banged up, while Marte and fellow starter Jung Ho Kang are unavailable due to their suspensions. Because of this, the Pirates have been making waves with some of their recent roster moves, including promoting the first African-born player in Major League history in Gift Ngoepe. Ngoepe wasn’t a highly touted prospect by any means, but it’s still a monumental occasion for Major League Baseball. We’ll see if we’ll get a glimpse of Ngoepe in Cincinnati this week.
News and Notes
— Redleg Nation (@redlegnation) May 1, 2017
Fun fact: Schebler is hitting .478 (11-for-23), with five home runs and 11 RBIs in his last six games. #reds
— Mark Sheldon (@m_sheldon) May 1, 2017
— MLB Communications (@MLB_PR) May 1, 2017
Reds pitchers have 4th lowest hard-hit allowed rate. https://t.co/wkTsrGfiAh
— Steve Mancuso (@spmancuso) May 1, 2017
The NL Central has been fairly competitive so far this year, with all five teams hovering right around a .500 winning percentage. I think it’s clear that the Cubs will probably finish the year well above that mark, but I don’t think we know just yet which of these clubs will finish at the bottom. The Cardinals and Pirates look to have lost a step in 2017, while the Brewers and Reds have gotten off to surprising starts. It’s a long season, and one good or bad week from any of these teams could re-set the balance into one we might have been able to predict in the preseason. This series, in particular, can be a good measuring stick for just how different these two teams might be this season. It’ll be interesting to see how the Pirates respond to being in the lower half of the table for the first time in a few seasons.
Quick programming note: I’ll be back with the Seventh Inning Stretch starting in between the top and the bottom of the seventh inning in the series finale on Thursday. Be sure to send in questions, and I’ll try to get to them on the air. And, as always, Go Reds!