Much like the last four years, the first week of the 2018 season hasn’t been kind to the Reds (1-4). There seems to be quite a bit of frustration brewing for some fans out there in Redleg Nation. Understandable after all the losing in the last four years. But remember: it’s still early, and this team will likely look different than it does right now. Nick Senzel is on the way. The young pitchers are throwing well. Despite justifiable exasperation about lineups and bizarre roster decisions early in the season, there’s hope for the future, even if it hasn’t manifested itself much on the field so far in the last six days. Perhaps it’s just the blind early optimism that comes with every season, but I still believe the Reds will have their best season since 2014.

The team could use a win against the Pirates (5-1) on Friday night, however. Although Tyler Mahle got fans buzzing with his performance on Monday, that seems like ages ago after a rainout on Tuesday, an off-day on Wednesday, and a quiet loss on Thursday. Fortunately, the Reds are sending arguably their best pitcher to the mound when action starts in snowy conditions at 7:05 p.m. ET in PNC Park.

Starting Pitchers

Name IP ERA xFIP K% BB%
Luis Castillo 5.0 10.80 2.99 27.3% 4.6%
Trevor Williams 6.0 0.00 5.89 5.0% 25.0%

Luis Castillo’s stuff was sharp, but his command was not in his first outing of the season. The 25-year-old right-hander gave up six runs on six hits, including two home runs, in five innings in a loss to the Washington Nationals on Saturday. He still missed bats (six strikeouts) and only walked one batter, though, so his performance was nothing to get too worked up over. Castillo just needs to refine his command in the strike zone tonight and not miss over the middle of the plate.

Castillo vs. Pirates


Trevor Williams, a 25-year-old and former farmhand of the Marlins just like Castillo, was selected in the second round of the 2013 draft and eventually traded to the Pirates in 2015 for another minor leaguer. He put up solid but unspectacular numbers in the minors (3.10 ERA, 17.1 K%), reaching the majors in 2016 largely because of solid control (6.5 BB%) and an above-average ground ball rate. In 2017, he spent the entire season with the Pirates, going 7-9 with a 4.07 ERA and 4.49 xFIP in 150 1/3 innings, which included 31 overall appearances and 25 starts. That was good enough to earn a spot in this year’s rotation.

Williams’ repertoire won’t turn your head the way Castillo’s does. He averaged 92.8 mph on his fastball last year and sat at just 91.1 mph in his first outing of 2018. None of his pitches has generated better than an 11% swinging-strike rate in his career, but his sinker gets a ton of ground balls (63.5% in 2017) and he limits hard contact with good fastball command. Among the 110 starting pitchers who allowed at least 100 four-seam fastballs to be put in play last year, Williams had the ninth-lowest average exit velocity against him (85.1 mph), just behind Clayton Kershaw.

Coming off a no-hit, six-inning start on April 1, Williams is riding high into tonight’s game. He struck out just one, however, and his control was uncharacteristically bad with a career-worst five walks.

Williams vs. Reds

Lineups

Reds

Pirates

RF Jesse Winker (103 wRC+) 2B Josh Harrison (161 wRC+)
3B Eugenio Suarez (147 wRC+) RF Gregory Polanco (198 wRC+)
1B Joey Votto (15 wRC+) CF Starling Marte (130 wRC+)
2B Scooter Gennett (163 wRC+) 1B Josh Bell (158 wRC+)
LF Adam Duvall (88 wRC+) LF Corey Dickerson (64 wRC+)
C Devin Mesoraco (4 wRC+) C Francisco Cervelli (58 wRC+)
SS Jose Peraza (-76 wRC+) 3B Colin Moran (71 wRC+)
P Luis Castillo (2.99 xFIP) SS Jordy Mercer (68 wRC+)
CF Billy Hamilton (-37 wRC+) P Trevor Williams (5.89 xFIP)
  • Jesse Winker is back in the leadoff spot where he belongs tonight, while Billy Hamilton is again batting ninth.
  • Devin Mesoraco is making his second start of the season in place of Tucker Barnhart.
  • Scott Schebler remains out of the lineup as he deals with an elbow injury.

News, Notes, & Pre-Game Reading

Stat of the Day

Let’s have some fun with early-season sample sizes, shall we?

  • Jesse Winker currently has a 31.3 BB%, which ranks second among all qualified hitters behind Freddie Freeman. At his current rate of playing time, that would amount to 162 walks in a season. (He also has a 31.3 K%, but let’s just ignore that.)
  • Sal Romano has a 73.7% ground-ball rate, first among all qualified pitchers. His 8.62 FIP is the third-worst.
  • Castillo has the highest swinging-strike rate in baseball (21.2%).

Final Thoughts

If there’s any pitcher on the team who can inject some excitement into the team and the fanbase after last night’s meager defeat, it’s Luis Castillo. He’ll also need his offense to break out of a slump colder than the temperatures in downtown Pittsburgh tonight. The team has just three runs over the last two games and has received few offensive contributions from anyone outside of Winker, Eugenio Suarez, Scooter Gennett, and Adam Duvall this season. With three weak hitters at the bottom of the lineup, getting contributions from those four and Joey Votto is imperative.

Growing up just north of Cincinnati, Matt has been a Reds fan for as long as he can remember. As a kid, he was often found leading the Reds to 162-0 seasons in MVP Baseball 2005 and imitating his favorite players (Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn, Sean Casey, and Austin Kearns) in the backyard. One of his earliest baseball memories is attending the final night game at Cinergy Field. Matt is also a graduate of The Ohio State University and currently lives in the Dayton area. Follow him on Twitter at @_MattWilkes.

Join the conversation! 119 Comments

  1. I know it’s early, but man! Peraza’s and Billy’s offensive numbers are downright offensive. Votto’s 15 wRC+ is comical. It will surely rise, but will Jose’s or Billy’s low wRC+’s?

    Reply
  2. Votto had a poor Spring working on whatever hitting alchemy he works on in March, but real games haven’t been kind to him either. I’m always nervous until the Votto hitting switch clicks on. Don’t know why.

    I expect Peraza and Billy to flail.

    Reply
    • Votto seems to get it going when the Reds are 10 to 15 under 500 and out of it. He catches fire.

      Hamilton and Peraza need replaced asap.

      Reply
  3. Couple of things, you say the Reds have just 1 run in 2 games, I thought last night was 5-2. MLB have a story about 5 players who could have 80 steals this season with BH as 1. But they say they doubt he will do it because he doesn’t get on base enough. SURPRISE!

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  4. the sky is falling! the sky is falling!

    Relax – we’re on our way to ~75 wins – that’s the reality of the talent, pitching & managing level. We play in the NL freaking Central – where there are three teams that could be WS contenders all with managers that know what they’re doing.

    in 2018, our young pitching will improve and we’ll be right on schedule for a WC run in 2019. And the 3 following years could be much more fun to watch.

    But don’t get depressed, down-in-the-dumps, or too heartbroken for the 2018 version… We’re just not there yet!

    Reply
  5. So Mez plays against the righty while Tucker played against the lefty. Good thinking.

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  6. The last real ace this team had was Johnny Cueto.

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  7. Holy cow Votto…

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  8. What in the world was Votto doing there

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  9. Votto. Wow. TOOTBLAN is being very kind to describe that.

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  10. Wasn’t baserunning a focus of his this past spring. I think I remember reading that.

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  11. Votto….lolllllllll. That looper had a zero.zero chance of falling in, but I know that atleast RLN knew they had a very good chance of turning a double play. I will admit I thought it would be Winker though? That is so stupid that its beyond belief? The ball is right in front of Votto?

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  12. 6th game of the season and their best player is already losing focus? Thats sad….maybe thats why he doesn’t have a captain’s C on his uniform. Its not like that was an extremely rare occurence either.

    Reply
  13. Castillo 97-98 gas…whiffed him with an 86 mph change

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  14. Duvall hacking at a 3-0 pitch on the hands….I’m gone. I’ve had enough stupid for tonite

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    • hope you left because Peraza’s was worse!!!

      Reply
    • As I said yesterday, Price is evidently afraid to ask anyone to take a pitch — I guess because it might hurt their feelings? The one problem this pitcher had in his first outing was walking people, so by all means let’s swing at what would have been ball 4 on a 3-0 pitch leading off an inning. Whatever feels good… just do it. No expectations, and no consequences.

      Reply
  15. Didn’t they notice this guy walked 5 batters last time out? Does that scream “swing indiscriminately?”

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  16. 2-0. Another uphill battle ahead

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  17. I laughed to myself when Welch said when Winker got on, “if BH was on he would have stolen 2nd & scored on Votto’s hit”. HE forgot to mention BY can’t get on 1st base.

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  18. Billy tied for 3rd on the team in rbis with 1….lol

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  19. Winker …rbi infield single

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  20. Atta boy Joey, hit some ropes …. tie game !!!!!!!

    Reply
  21. Votto delivers….now tied with Billy in rbis. CF rushed to try to get Billy and booted the ball…allowing winker to get to 3rd,

    Reply
  22. I have to again point out that Scooter has been as cold as anyone on the team when it counts. He has 1 RBI on the season.

    Reply
  23. Votto deciding to swing away is always a good thing. On game cast, Ump really seems to be squeezing Castillo low in the zone and he seems to be doing the opposite for their guy.

    Brantley made note of it too. Good for him for calling out some bad balls and strikes.

    Reply
  24. Winker now with a 500 OBP. He should bat lead off the remainder of the season every game. It is really not that difficult

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  25. Told ya last night. Cervelli is an asshole. I didn’t even know he had that reputation.

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  26. Gallardo warming…if at 1st you dont succeed…

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  27. Castillo is still young and time to improve. Shows it is not just a straight line to elite

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  28. Castillo is his own worst enemy. But please not Gallardo.

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  29. Aside from our sweep of the Cubs, have we had a single inning where we scored and the other team didn’t immediately score the next inning?

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  30. Castillo showing why he bats above Hamilton.

    (Both funny and sad).

    Reply
  31. Castillo should be a two way player

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  32. Billy keeps swinging at slop, but actually gets a hit out of it. Amazing.

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  33. Suarez needs to dye his hair back to black

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  34. This would be ideal.game to have Garrett ready to go innings 5-7/8 or Lorenzen if healthy.

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  35. Suarez’s at-bat in the 3rd is a perfect example of what’s wrong with this team. With guys on 1st and 2nd and nobody out, and a pitcher who’s having some serious control problems (walking Hamilton ought to be a clue), he goes up there and takes a big hack at a pitch well out of the strike zone. Then with two strikes, having already been called out on a borderline pitch in the 1st inning, he takes a borderline pitch (probably a strike) for strike three. He’s swinging when he ought to be taking and taking when he ought to be swinging. And of course nobody is going to bother asking him (or anyone else) to change a single thing. And then people wonder why this team has so much trouble scoring runs?

    Reply
    • That’s timing and pitch recognition and repetions. What did these hitters do exactly in spring training? Price gave them 2 at bats every other day …lineups were a wild card…and they barely played the last week with the rain out in Texas the off day…the rain out again… and the veterans off day to pack stuff the last day in Arizona.

      Reply
      • I wasn’t paying attention. We’re guys like Suarez getting less work this spring than similar guys on other teams?

        Reply
  36. Castillo at 105 pitches in a cold rain. Not sure that is the best way to utilize a young pitcher

    Reply
  37. If baseball karma exists, the Reds are using a lot of it up tonight, so far in a losing effort. Hits from balls off gloves, off butts, bloopers.

    Lot o’ chances. Maybe they can get the big hit before Rivero comes in at the end.

    Reply
  38. It looks like Gallardo was coming into this game regardless of the situation. I hope it works and we stay close.

    Reply
    • Nope….he’s a washed scrub and this is what pro hitters do to scrubs!

      Price plays Tucker last night vs a lefty….560 ops or something lifetime vs lefties. Goes with Mesoraco tonite vs a righty when he’s much better vs lefties. Its like Price doesn’t own a computer?

      4.5 out now on April 6th…..have the Reds ever been 10+ games out in April?

      Reply
    • Ha!

      Just the latest washed up pitcher the Reds sign and expect to do better that what he’s done. It’s quite comical.

      Reply
  39. Brantley, talking about Yovani Go-Yard-O: “I know it’s only his second outing, but it doesn’t look like he has anything left in the tank.”

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  40. I forget — Is Gallardo supposed to be an “innings eater” or provide “veteran leadership”?

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  41. Just look at that veteran presence

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  42. Someone please help me understand the thought process of the Reds management. Is the goal to actually win?

    Reply
    • I honestly don’t think so. I’m not sure what the goal is, exactly, but I honestly don’t think winning is at the top of the list.

      Reply
  43. How many months will it take the Reds to notice what we all noticed the day they signed him?

    Reply
    • As I recall, with Jason Marquis, it wasn’t until the national baseball media began hammering away at the Reds for having him start games that the Reds pulled the plug. Or maybe that was a coincidence. …. But for the life of me, what do the Reds see in these guys ???????????

      Reply
  44. For his awesomeness at the plate tonight, WInker did not show a lot of defensive awareness with the ball that hit the wall. He continued to run in on it, and it ricocheted back past him,

    Duvall cannot be moved too soon, giving Winker LF for the next 6 years and hope he gets better defensively there.

    (Actually, I doubt any team has much use at the MLB level for Duvall).

    Reply
  45. Yeah….his era is 26 but he has grit!!! Real veteran-ness

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  46. Winker is 3-4. Thom Brennamen on wonkers 4 th at bat….” it’s not how you hit….it’s when you hit.”
    The organizational hit job continues in Winker.

    Reds going to be 1-5 and 0-2 to start road trip. Need to right this ship quick or April could get very ugly.

    Reply
    • Opening day we had 5 pitchers on the DL and Price, Billy, and Jose ready to go…..thats already very ugly.

      Reply
  47. Hey he got 1 out!!!

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  48. Absolutely sickening to watch this guy pitch. 7 batters, 6 reach base, 4 scored.

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  49. Man, Gallardo can’t pitch his way out of a wet paper bag.

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  50. When Gallardo comes in let’s just call the mercy rule.

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  51. Gaillardo is worse than Bronson last year, what are they thinking?

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  52. I wonder who goes when Lorenzen gets back? Any word on him?
    Is John Franco available?

    Reply
    • Last I read is that it might be awhile. Being cautious. Finnegan and Hernandez will be back before him.

      Reply
  53. Dickerson is a nice player…..827 lifetime ops. He’s what Schebler is hoping to be. Pitt picked him up very late in March. Their front office atleast made some effort unlike DW

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  54. Reds aren’t going 13-6 this season vs. Pirates, like they did last year.

    Not when PIT’s hitters can’t be shut down by the Reds top two starters in Bailey and Castillo.

    And this bullpen. Yikes.

    Reply
  55. The really sad thing is we can fairly confidently assume the Reds aren’t going to admit they made a mistake anytime soon. They’re going to need to see him fail miserably at least 10 more times before they’ll even start to consider admitting anything.

    Reply
    • This FO is such a joke, Doing the same thing every year and expecting something different to happen.

      Reply
  56. 54 era for Gallardo! DW has hoarding disease….sees some trash somebody thrown out but its a treasure to him….and only him

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  57. They should investigate Price, to see if is betting on these games. No way is he dumb enough to use Gallardo in a close game again.

    At least Pete bet the Reds to win.

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  58. Here’s where the Reds usually get 3 runs to make their offensive stats look better overall.

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  59. Wonder how this game might have turned out if Brice (or literally any other pitcher on the roster) had come into the game when it was still potentially winnable. Alas, we’ll never know.

    Reply
    • Hughes is pretty good but of course Price has to use him when its 13-5 in the 9th inning

      Reply
  60. I wonder if we could find a single person outside of the Reds organization who would think it’s a good idea to keep Gallardo on the roster for even one more day.

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  61. 29th in runs scored and 27th in era coming in. This might get to them last in era. So glad they brought back the exact same team with the same idiot managing them.

    Reply
  62. I’m okay with taking the L tonight if it gets rid of Gallardo for a guy who will be around next year.

    Reply
    • He can take the front office with him when he leaves.

      Reply
    • Back in 2015, Walt Jocketty made an equally mind-numbing decision in signing Kevin Gregg. As I remember Bryan Price ran him out there time after time when a game was still within reach. It took 11 futile appearances (10.13 ERA) before Kevin Gregg was mercifully released and that nightmare ended on May 11th, 2015.

      Bottom line, Bryan Price is a slow learner. Expect to see more of the same with Mr. Gallardo for another month.

      Reply
  63. Winker with the stinker

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  64. You know how much did they spend between Gallardo, Revere, Quackenbush, Hernandez, and all the other marginal bums? They could have gotten one decent difference maker instead, but they like to hoard literal crap hoping to turn it into diamonds.

    Reply
  65. Brice is terrible too. Tanner Rainey 1 ip for the Bats tonite…3 Ks. Throws 98-99 mph. Kyle Crockett 1 ip 0 runs. Get rid of Gallardo and Brice tonite. You’re not going to Philly. Pack your stuff tonite and we’ll call Uber for you.

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  66. I’m not sure we’re gonna pull this win off…..call it a gut feeling

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  67. It’s getting kinda comical to hear Brantley. He’s wanting to know why Peralta would be warming up NOW instead of earlier when it was actually a close game. Gee, how come the manager couldn’t think along those lines?

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  68. O wow! I just tuned in and looked at the box score. That Gallardo guy is a goat! They should just leave him in Pittsburgh after the team leaves and tell him to find a way home. Pure rubbish!!! Why was he put in in such a close game? Put in Iglesias…anyone.

    Reply
  69. You all seem so happy to whinge

    Reply
    • You seem content to be “patient”. Its only 90+ losses 4 years in a row. The rebuild that never takes the first step…let alone rebuild. How does broken down Gallardo qualify as part of a rebuild? Buzz off

      Reply
  70. Reds fans deserve better…its too bad. Votto getting doubled up on a weak fly ball right in front of him was one of the dumbest plays I’ve ever seen. That set the table tonite. If you don’t see the ball then just watch the runner in front of you? From A-Z this organization is terrible.

    Reply
  71. To VegasTypo’s point, tonight would be an excellent night for the beat writers in Pittsburgh to grill Price.

    Is he being forced to use Gallardo by Williams, or does he really think the guy is the best option he has for middle relief at the moment?

    Reply
  72. I can’t help it. This is as poor of a performance and poor management as you will see.

    It’s the Bad News Bears out there with someone in over his head managing them to top it off.

    They have a loooooong way to go and several front office moves made correctly before playoff contention need be spoken.

    the front office has a looooong way to go too after signing Gallardo and still having Price manage this team. Those were decisions made by this very same front office that has to complete the rebuild correctly. There are at least 3 if not 4 better front offices in our division.

    Let’s be real.

    Reply
  73. Brantley making the same point about Hughes as he did about Peralta. If he was available to pitch tonight, why not when the game was close ???

    Reply
    • Price has it all mapped out before the game. Castillo was going to go 5-6 innings, followed by Gallardo, followed by Peralta/Hughes depending on lefty-righty with Iglesias to close. If Castillo had gone longer he may have skipped Gallardo. He doesn’t deviate from his pre-game plan. He has always been like this its annoying as hell.

      Reply
      • What I mean is I think he has Peralta and Hughes as the set up men. So that means he won’t put them in before the 7th inning. But yea why waste them in a blow out, just take your beating with the scrubs and move on to tomorrow. Heck throw Quackenbush in there again at this point who cares?

        Reply
  74. It’s not often you see a team get 12 hits …. and lose by 12 runs.

    Reply
  75. 1 extra base hit… by Castillo.

    Reply
  76. The lineup with Mesoraco playing TODAY against a RHP (Yesterday a LHP for Tucker), idiot baserunning by Votto that set the tone, a young pitcher being squeezed by the ump without the Manager putting up for him, 300 runners being stranded, swinging at 3-0 counts or just at balls on the ground, bringing Gallardo in a close game, then Hughes in a 13-2 game and the list goes on and on…sad, very sad for a once great team.

    BTW, Billy got on base 3 times and Peraza 2. Winker led off. Still miserable results.

    Reply
    • oh, and not a single word in years about a clubhouse meeting where players scream the heck out of each other and SOMEBODY steps up as a leader and call for some dignity and respect for their profession and the fans that pay their overrated behinds. Guess that’s why the “C” of Captain is still for the grabs.

      Reply
      • You’re not going to see something like that so early in the season. … And candidly, I’m not sure a lot of these guys are capable of any more than they’re doing, no matter who screams at them.

        Reply

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About Matt Wilkes

Growing up just north of Cincinnati, Matt has been a Reds fan for as long as he can remember. As a kid, he was often found leading the Reds to 162-0 seasons in MVP Baseball 2005 and imitating his favorite players (Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn, Sean Casey, and Austin Kearns) in the backyard. One of his earliest baseball memories is attending the final night game at Cinergy Field. Matt is also a graduate of The Ohio State University and currently lives in the Dayton area. Follow him on Twitter at @_MattWilkes.

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2018 Reds, Game Thread

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