Winning is fun. The Reds (2-5) should try that more often, huh? After a rough first week of the season, the club finally broke through against the Pirates (6-2) last night to erase the taste of a particularly ugly loss on Friday. They’ll try to turn it into a winning streak today as they wrap up their four-game road series this afternoon at 1:35 p.m. ET.
No Reds pitcher has impressed more in the early going than Tyler Mahle. The 23-year-old dominated a strong Cubs lineup on Monday, throwing six frames of no-run, one-hit baseball and striking out a career-high seven batters. True to his calling card, Mahle painted the corners of the strike zone all day long, with his tailing fastball resulting in five called strike threes. His other two strikeouts were also on his four-seamer, getting Cubs hitters to swing through them up in the zone.
Mahle also used three pitches against the Cubs rather than the fastball-slider combination he mostly relied on in the big leagues last year. The changeup was his pitch of choice 12 times on Monday after throwing it only 26 times in four starts last year. While he had a little bit of troubling locating it, he did get a couple of swings and misses. If his secondary pitches keep coming along, Mahle is going to be special.
Mahle vs. Pirates
The Pirates are hoping Jameson Taillon, the second overall pick in the 2010 draft, can finally become their ace this season at age 26. After a solid rookie year in 2016 (3.38 ERA, 3.43 xFIP), his numbers took a bit of a hit last year (4.44 ERA, 3.89 xFIP). While his strikeout rate rose from 20.3 percent to 21.3 percent, his walk rate also increased from an elite 4.1 percent to 7.8 percent. He also dealt with a health scare in 2017, undergoing surgery for testicular cancer in May.
With last year behind him, Taillon put up a fantastic start in the Pirates home opener on Monday. The right-hander tossed 5 1/3 innings and allowed just two runs on four hits. He also tied a career-high with nine strikeouts and didn’t walk anybody. If he can maintain his improved strikeout rate and get his walk rate back to elite levels rather than simply above average, this kid is going to give the Reds fits for years to come.
Taillon vs. Reds
|RF Jesse Winker (161 wRC+)||2B Josh Harrison (127 wRC+)|
|3B Eugenio Suarez (184 wRC+)||RF Gregory Polanco (186 wRC+)|
|1B Joey Votto (54 wRC+)||CF Starling Marte (130 wRC+)|
|2B Scooter Gennett (73 wRC+)||1B Josh Bell (142 wRC+)|
|LF Adam Duvall (37 wRC+)||LF Corey Dickerson (129 wRC+)|
|C Tucker Barnhart (176 wRC)||C Francisco Cervelli (60 wRC+)|
|SS Jose Peraza (15 wRC+)||3B Colin Moran (143 wRC+)|
|P Tyler Mahle (3.40 xFIP)||SS Jordy Mercer (131 wRC+)|
|CF Billy Hamilton (40 wRC+)||P Jameson Taillon (0.73 xFIP)|
- Another day without Scott Schebler in the lineup. Considering it was reported that he had no feeling in some of his fingers yesterday, it’s really puzzling why he’s not on the disabled list. He’s been out for six games now; the minimum DL stay is 10 days. The Reds are just wasting a roster spot.
- Gregory Polanco is back in the lineup today for the Pirates after being scratched from Saturday’s game due to foot soreness.
News, Notes, & Pre-Game Reading
Cincinnati #Reds Minor League Game Review – 4/7/18
— Doug Gray (@dougdirt24) April 8, 2018
— The Athletic (@TheAthleticCIN) April 8, 2018
MLB Leaders in our Hard-Hit Rate Stat
Adam Eaton 57%
Daniel Descalso 53%
Rafael Devers 50%
Mookie Betts 48%
Elvis Andrus 46%
Eugenio Suárez 46%
Yadier Molina 45%
Josh Reddick 44%
Dixon Machado 43%
Shin-Soo Choo 43%
(Mike Trout is one of several at 42%)
— Sports Info Solutions (@SportsInfo_SIS) April 8, 2018
Stat of the Day
This year, only five pitchers have generated more swings and misses in a game than Luis Castillo (19) did on March 31 against the Nationals. (Side note: Max Scherzer, with 23 whiffs against the Reds on Opening Day, is the league leader.)
Here’s a look at the Reds’ single-game whiff leaders the last decade:
- 2017: Robert Stephenson (24)
- 2016: Dan Straily (21)
- 2015: Raisel Iglesias (22)
- 2014: Homer Bailey (21)
- 2013: Homer Bailey (23)
- 2012: Mat Latos (24)
- 2011: Johnny Cueto (21)
- 2010: Johnny Cueto (20)
- 2009: Homer Bailey (19)
- 2008: Johnny Cueto (24)
Today’s pitching matchup should be a fun one to watch as two talented young arms square off against each other. The Reds’ offense finally got some momentum going last night that will hopefully carry over into today’s game. They’re facing a tough pitcher, but if they can get to the Pirates’ bullpen early again, you have to like their chances of doing damage. After the games on Thursday and Friday, coming away with a series split against Pittsburgh would almost feel like a win.
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.