The Nationals and Reds will square off in the third and final game of their current series today at GABP.  The Nationals 5-2 win Saturday sets up today’s  game as the series rubber match. The Reds were unable to seize upon several opportunities to flip Saturday’s contest back to their favor. Fangraphs says the Nationals are 54.4% likely to win today’s game. So, the Reds will  need to really focus and bear down if they are to win the game and thus the series.

STARTING PITCHERS

Super ace Max Scherzer will start for the Nats against the Sonny Gray for the Reds.

Nationals

What is there to write about Max Scherzer which hasn’t already been written? By way of review, Scherzer has finished in the top 5 of Cy Young Award balloting every year since he won it for the first time in 2013 (with Detroit). In the past three seasons, he has won the CYA twice (2016, 17) and finished 2nd the other season (2018). Along the way, Scherzer has accrued 54.6 career fWAR.

But there may be hope for the Reds in today’s game. As MLB.com points out, the Nats have struggled to win games this year with Scherzer on the mound. The team is just 2-10 in games Scherzer has started even though he is among MLB leaders in FIP and strikeouts. Reds fans, keep your fingers crossed for Scherzer’s bad luck to continue for at least one more game.

Reds

Like Max Scherzer, Sonny Gray was also a top 20 overall MLB draft pick (Scherzer #11/ 2006; Gray #18/ 2011). Through the pair’s respective age 25 seasons, Gray actually earned more fWAR than Scherzer did (8.9/7.8). However, Gray suffered through injury woes in his age 26 season, 2016, despite making 22 starts and has never been as productive as he was previously.

With the Reds Gray has been reunited with his college pitching coach Derek Johnson. To date the results of this collaboration have been mixed. However following a string of ineffective starts from mid April to mid May, Gray’s last 2 starts have been among the season’s best. In these 2 starts, both Reds wins, Gray has pitched to a 1.98 FIP over 12 innings of work. The results of this good work allowed Gray to already match his fWAR output for all of 2018 (1.6). The Reds and Reds fans hope this is just the beginning of a long term revival for Gray who the Reds have extended through the 2022 season with a team option for 2023.

Tale of the 2019 Tape:

PITCHER FIP WHIP HR/9 BB% K%
Max Scherzer 2.33 1.19 0.70 5.3% 31.8%
Sonny Gray 3.02 1.21 0.64 9.4% 27.5%

 

BULLPENS

Nationals

The much maligned Nats pen covered 5 innings in shutout fashion Saturday versus the Reds. Wander Suero, the lead setup man, threw 2 innings (30 pitches) and would figure to be unavailable today. Closer Sean Doolittle needed just 15 pitches for his inning and should be good to go Sunday.  Matt Grace required just 4 pitches to record a single out and should also be good to go.

Reds

The Reds used 3 pitchers to cover 3 innings of relief.  Michael Lorenzen completed 1.1 scoreless innings (11 pitches).  Amir Garrett threw 17 pitches to record 0.2 of an inning. Both should be available today for up to an inning. Matt Bowman was working on a consecutive day and threw 17 pitches to compete an inning after throwing 10 pitches Friday. He likely is unavailable Sunday.

 

LINEUPS

        NATIONALS          REDS
1. Trea Turner (SS)
2. Gerardo Parra (RF)
3. Anthony Rendon (3B)
4. Juan Soto (LF)
5. Matt Adams (1B)
6. Kurt Suzuki (C)
7. Brian Dozier (2B)
8. Victor Robles (CF)
9. Max Scherzer (P)
1. Nick Senzel (CF)
2. Joey Votto (1B)
3. Derek Dietrich (2B)
4. Jesse Winker (LF)
5. Yasiel Puig (RF)
6. Josh VanMeter (3B)
7. Jose Iglesias (SS)
8. Tucker Barnhart (C)
9. Sonny Gray (P)

Eugenio Suárez gets a rest. Josh VanMeter gets the start at 3B. Against Max Scherzer. Good luck Josh.

NEWS & NOTES

30 years ago today Eric (The Red) Davis hit for the cycle. Have a look:

All Nick Senzel; All the Time,

Tomorrow is an off day for the Reds on the field but a very busy and important day for the future as the MLB 2019 draft gets underway.  Be sure to follow Doug Gray’s coverage of all the action at RLN’s companion site Reds Minor Leagues

And this just in, the Reds may be seeing a very familiar face in yet another different uniform later this week…

FINAL THOUGHTS

We have talked about the need for the Reds to be more consistent if they are to break their cycle of lingering 4-5 games below .500. Today is the rubber game of a three game series versus a team with a worse record than the Reds. This then would seem to be a “must game” for the Reds if they are to move on up in the MLB world. For those not convinced, consider the next 8 games on the road starting Tuesday feature the likes of the Cards, Phillies, and Indians. All three are traditional Reds nemeses. So yeah, this is a must game if a 27-31 team can have such a thing. GO REDS!!


Data and stats courtesy of  FangraphsBaseball Reference  and MLB.com