The Cincinnati Reds (24-29) and Pittsburgh Pirates (26-25) have already played nine innings today; what’s nine more? The gates at Great American Ball Park have closed and reopened for the nightcap, and the Reds will try to actually beat the Pirates, as they face Pittsburgh’s top prospect Mitch Keller, making his MLB debut. First pitch is at 7:10 ET.

Starting Pitchers

Name IP ERA FIP xFIP K% BB%
Sonny Gray 50.0 3.78 3.12 3.38 27.40% 9.60%
Mitch Keller (AAA stats) 47.0 3.45 4.13 4.28 27.60% 9.90%

Giving a three-year extension to Sonny Gray when the Reds traded for him in the off-season is proving to be a good decision so far. Gray is in the top 30 of all NL pitchers who have a minimum of 50 innings. And he’s coming off what might have been his best start of the season. Gray pitched five innings of shut-out baseball with nine strikeouts in Milwaukee. The only downside was that he walked four.

What has been the difference between Gray in 2018 and Gray in 2019? He’s throwing his slider a lot more, and he’s throwing his sinker a lot less. In fact, his sinker is the fourth-most used pitch, behind the four-seamer, the curve ball, and the slider. He’s already recorded 23 strikeouts with his slider. In 2018, he had 38 strikeouts with the slider the entire season.

Corey Dickerson has had the most success off Gray, with two home runs. He just got transferred to the 60-day IL for the Pirates. Gray also will not have to face Trevor Williams, who single-handedly won the game for the Pirates with a single and two RBI off Gray in the second game of the season at the end of March.

Keller was drafted in the second round of the 2014 draft, and according to Baseball America, Keller is currently the #1 prospect in the Pirates organization. He had a bit of a set back in his development last year, with a 4.82 ERA/4.13 FIP in 52.1 innings at AAA-Indianapolis. (Keller split time between Double-A and Triple-A in 2018). This season, he’s been better, but still has some issues with his control to fix. He’s already walked 22 batters in  47.0 innings and the past two years his BB% has jumped to around 9.0%.

Here’s more on Keller:

Bullpens

Bullpen usage is important during doubleheaders, and the Reds and Pirates were not able to avoid using multiple relievers. Both teams used four pitchers each. Neither team has a significant advantage going into the second game, it would seem.

Amir Garrett threw 31 pitches, so there’s a chance that he will not pitch in the second game. Francisco Liriano threw 30 pitches and Kyle Crick threw 26 pitches for the Pirates. I’m guessing that both Cody Reed and the Pirates 26th man, Richard Rodriguez, will see action tonight.

Lineups

Pirates Lineup

  1. Starling Marte – CF
  2. Gregory Polanco – RF
  3. Bryan Reynolds – LF
  4. Josh Bell – 1B
  5. Colin Moran – 2B
  6. Jose Osuna – 3B
  7. Jacob Stallings – C
  8. Cole Tucker – SS
  9. Mitch Keller – SP

Reds lineup

News and Notes

-What was that about Joey Votto’s career being over?

 

-Let the kids play.