Three-and-a-half months ago when these teams met, they were both in rough shape despite the hope that their respective rebuilding years were nearly over. The Reds (45-57), of course, were in the midst of their early-season meltdown that eventually led to a 3-18 start. The Phillies (57-44) were off to a 3-5 start that had fans calling for new manager Gabe Kapler’s job. The series was rather one-sided, as Philadelphia completed the sweep and has had a winning record ever since. While the Reds don’t have a winning record (yet!), they’re certainly in much better shape than they were back in early April.
After getting swept by the Pirates to begin the second half, the Redlegs recaptured some momentum by taking two of three from the Cardinals to begin the week. Now sitting within six games of fourth place in the NL Central, they’ll hope to avenge a sweep at the hands of the Phillies starting at 7:10 p.m. ET this evening.
RED ALERT: Another pitcher is making his big-league debut in Cincinnati tonight. Facing their third such pitcher in the last four games, the Reds are hoping just to get a hit tonight against Ranger Suarez after putting up a goose egg against the Cardinals’ Daniel Poncedeleon and Austin Gomber on Monday and Tuesday.
Suarez is the Phillies’ ninth-rated prospect by MLB Pipeline and has only 15.2 innings of experience at the Triple-A level under his belt. The 22-year-old southpaw started the year in Double-A, posting a 2.76 ERA in 75 innings before he was promoted. He made only three starts at the next level and gave up just one run before he was promoted again, this time to The Show. It’ll likely be a short stay for the rookie, as the Phillies only need another starter due to a doubleheader on Sunday. Bizarrely, Suarez will be the first lefty to start a game for the Phillies since September 28, 2016.
Scouting report:Ã‚Â Suarez is a sinker-ball pitcher, mixing in a slider, curveball, and changeup. He’s demonstrated solid control throughout his minor-league career, owning a minuscule 5.5% walk rate. After an significant uptick in strikeouts last season (26.4 K%) sent him racing up top prospect lists, he hasn’t been able to fan hitters with the same regularity in the upper levels of the minors (18.3%) this year. The Reds should have the upper hand in this pitching matchup, but given how Monday and Tuesday went, it’s safe not to make any assumptions.
As impressive as Tyler Mahle’s June was, his July has been almost the polar opposite. After a solid start to the month when he tossed a career-best 6.2 innings, his last two outings have been ugly (11 ER in 8 IP), raising his season ERA to 4.32. Since his brilliant 12-strikeout performance on June 30, the rookie has struggled to miss bats with the same frequency, punching out just eight hitters in his last 14.2 innings. His control has been unusually shaky in his last two trips to the mound as well, with five walks in that time. These are the ebbs and flows most pitchers go through in their first full year in the big leagues, and Mahle is no exception. Let’s see if he can recapture his June form tonight.
1.Ã‚Â Cesar HernandezÃ‚Â (2B)
1.Ã‚Â Jose PerazaÃ‚Â (SS)
News, Notes, & Pre-Game Reading
The disappointing news of the day: Jesse Winker is done for the season.
Winker is likely done for the year: “He’ll be ready for spring training next year,” president of baseball operations Dick Williams said. “I don’t think we’ll see him playing this year.”
That’s a really tough blow for the #Reds the kid was having a really nice year.
— John Fay (@johnfayman) July 26, 2018
Mason Williams, a former top prospect in the Yankees organization, was promoted to take Winker’s place on the roster.
Williams slashed .331/.410/.535 with 8 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR & 16 RBI since June 9 at AAA. pic.twitter.com/DR7mDluGKt
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) July 26, 2018
Jonathan India has been promoted from one rookie level to another:
ROSTER MOVE: INF Jonathan India (@jonathan_india) has been transferred to Rookie Billings @Mustangs.
— Greeneville Reds (@greenevillereds) July 26, 2018
A Scott Schebler update:
Riggleman said when Schebler says he's ready, he'll be activated. Throwing is the biggest issue. He's the DH again tonight for Louisville
— C. Trent Rosecrans (@ctrent) July 26, 2018
Stat of the Day
Entering Thursday’s games, Eugenio Suarez leads ALL qualified hitters in hard-contact rate (as measured by FanGraphs) at 52.2%. His soft-contact rate of 9.0% is bested only by Joey Votto and Matt Carpenter (both 8.7%).