I want to start this preview with some interesting schedule facts:

-The Reds have 67 games left
26 19 of those are against the Cardinals or Pirates
39 46 of the remaining 41 48 games are against bad or mediocre kids (the other 2 are against the A’s.)

In short, if the Reds don’t win the division or make the playoffs it will be because they didn’t get it done. You simply cannot ask for a better opportunity to make up ground the Reds have during the last few months of the season.

As for the Pirates, the Reds have played them 10 times already this season, and I think we all know what we’re getting. Some items of note:

-Second baseman Neil Walker is hurt and will miss this series, which means Reds pitchers will have the pleasure of throwing to Clint Barmes (Jordy Mercer will slide over to second), who makes Zack Cozart look like a silver slugger.
-After missing much of the season to date, Jose Tabata is healthy and back in the lineup.

Match Ups

Friday: Mike Leake (8-4, 2.69) vs. Francisco Liriano (9-3, 2.00)
Saturday: Mat Latos (8-3, 3.53) vs. A.J. Burnett (4-6, 3.06)
Sunday: Homer Bailey (5-8, 3.82) vs. Jeff Locke (8-2, 2.15)

That’s some pitching, huh? Burnett and Liriano are legit, too. Those ERAs are not illusions. However, I don’t know if I’m buying what Jeff Locke is selling. His peripherals aren’t as good as his ERA.

This is an important series. All of the games against the Pirates and Cards are important games now. The season isn’t over, far from it. But we all know the Reds have struggled lately. Now is the time to get it together and show what you’ve got. Let’s hope the Reds have more than enough.