The MLB schedulers stacked the beginning of the season with division games, as the Reds (1-4), looking to snap a four-game losing streak, will head to PNC Park in Pittsburgh to face the Pirates (1-3) for the second time in a week. First pitch will be at 7:05 ET.
Tyler Mahle makes his 2019 debut against a Pirates team that lost back-to-back home games against the St. Louis Cardinals after splitting a shortened opening series with the Reds.
For most of spring training, Mahle didn’t even know if he would make the major league roster for Opening Day. It looked like he was going to be the odd man out, even if he did have an excellent camp (7 runs in 14.1 IP with 16 strikeouts and two walks). But when Alex Wood went down with back problems, Mahle was the next pitcher in line. He’ll get a couple of starts as it looks like Wood will be out at least through April.
Mahle gets a chance to continue his breakout rookie season from a year ago. In 2018, he pitched 112.0 innings in 23 starts, giving up 62 earned runs. He walked 53 and struck out 110. June was his best month, as he had a 2.18 ERA and a 3.74 FIP in 33.0 innings. The Reds shut him down in September.
Mahle throws four pitches, relying heavily on his four-seam fastball. He throws his slider about 20.4% of the time, and his change-up after that. He very rarely throws his curveball.
Of the Pirates hitters, Corey Dickerson has two home runs off Mahle and Starling Marte is 6-for-12 with two doubles against him.
After stints with both the Padres and the Brewers last season, Jordan Lyles elected free agency and signed a one-year deal with the Pirates in the off season. He’ll also make his 2019 debut tonight after a pedestrian 2018. He pitched the majority of the season with the Padres, giving up 34 earned runs in 71.1 innings. He also surrendered 12 home runs in those innings. In August, the Brewers claimed him off waivers and he finished the season with some of the best performances of his career, albeit in a small sample size. In 16.1 innings, he had a 3.31 ERA and a 2.49 FIP, while allowing zero home runs and nine walks.
Lyles started the season on the injured list with right side discomfort (retroactive to March 25), but was activated today for tonight’s start. Lyles throws five pitches in total, but relies mainly on his four-seam fastball and his curveball. Once in awhile, he’ll throw in a sinker and a change up.
Tonight could be the night the Reds bats heat up. Six players on the 25-man roster have an OPS over .900 against Lyles. Joey Votto has two home runs off him, and Yasiel Puig is 5-for-15 against him.
|Tyler Mahle (2018)||4.98||5.25||1.59||1.77||10.50%||21.70%|
|Jordan Lyles (2018)||4.11||4.09||1.27||1.23||6.80%||22.6%|
|1. Jesse Winker (LF)
2. Joey Votto (1B)
3. Yasiel Puig (RF)
4. Eugenio Suarez (3B)
5. Scott Schebler (CF)
6. Jose Peraza (2B)
7. Tucker Barnhart (C)
8. Jose Iglesias (SS)
9. Tyler Mahle (P)
|1. Adam Frazier (2B)
2. Starling Marte (CF)
3. Francisco Cervelli (C)
4. Josh Bell (1B)
5. Jung Ho Kang (3B)
6. Melky Cabrera (RF)
7. JB Shuck (LF)
8. Kevin Newman (SS)
9. Jordan Lyles (P)
-The Pirates placed Corey Dickerson on the injured list with a posterior right shoulder strain. The Reds won’t face him at all this series.
News and Notes
-From yesterday’s game: In 15 seasons at GABP, there have been only 23 1-0 games. Luis Castillo has had some bad luck when it comes to run support.
23rd 1-0 game in GABP history, #Reds are 13-10 in those games. Luis Castillo is the only Reds starter to lose two such games
— C. Trent Rosecrans (@ctrent) April 3, 2019
-It’s Opening Day for minor league teams! All Reds affiliates except the rookie-level teams play tonight.
The road to the show begins tonight! Best of luck to our #RedsMiLB teams in 2019!
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) April 4, 2019
— Redleg Nation (@redlegnation) April 4, 2019
The reviews are mixed for the @Reds' new manager, David Bell. Read what sports writer Chad Dotson (and some of his Twitter followers) have to say about Bell's first week in his new role.https://t.co/mYTSWapkNZ
— Cincinnati Magazine (@CincinnatiMag) April 3, 2019
To put it into perspective how early it is in the season, the Houston Astros–a team many think could win the World Series this year–are 2-5 to start 2019. The defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox are 1-5. Both of those teams are expected to make the playoffs. Realistically, the Reds won’t make the playoffs (my prediction was a .500 finish), even as much as we want them to.
However, the team needed to get off to a fast start, given the off season moves and the general apathy of the fan base the last few years. This is why there is much overreaction towards the team’s poor performance in the first five games. Nevertheless, the Reds have an opportunity to win some games with this upcoming Pirates series followed by a home series against the Miami Marlins. We might know a little more about our beloved Redlegs after the next seven games.