After back-to-back losses, the Cincinnati Reds (28-34) need a win in the worst way. They will try to get that win in the second of this weekend series against the Philadelphia Phillies (36-27) at Citizens Bank Park.

First pitch is at 4:05 ET.

Starting Pitchers

Name IP ERA FIP xFIP K% BB%
Tanner Roark 62.1 3.47 3.29 4.50 24.00% 9.20%
Nick Pivetta 29.1 6.14 5.37 4.23 23.00% 7.40%

REDS

Tanner Roark did not fare very well last Saturday against his former team in the Washington Nationals, giving up four runs on six hits over six innings. He struck out six and walked one in that start. It was his first below average start in over a month. I don’t think most fans thought Roark would be as good as he has been thus far in 2019. He’s always been a middle to back end of the rotation pitcher. This season, he’s been a solid pitcher who has been able to pitch at least five innings every start except two.

There are two reasons Roark has been so consistent this season. First, he’s not allowing home runs. He’s given up just four home runs all season. Second, his K% is up to 24% from 19.2% a year ago and 21.4% in 2017. He’s striking out more batters. Roark’s slider usage, like most other Reds pitchers this season, has jumped up about six percent. He’s gotten 10 strikeouts with his slider already. He had 17 strikeouts with his slider all of last season.

From his time spent in the NL East, Roark has faced most of the Phillies players many times. He will, however, face his former teammate Bryce Harper for the first time.

PHILLIES

After a 4.77 ERA/3.80 FIP in 164.1 innings in 2018, Nick Pivetta was sent to Triple-A Lehigh Valley in mid April after he gave up 17 runs in four starts to start the 2019 season. At Triple-A, he made six starts, posting a 3.41 ERA with 50 strikeouts in 37.1 innings. The Phillies recalled Pivetta at the end of May. In his most recent start, he pitched maybe the best game of his short career, throwing six scoreless innings and striking out nine at Dodger Stadium.

With a career 45.4 GB% rate, Pivetta is more of a ground ball pitcher. However, he does have a 23.3% HR/FB rate this season, and a career 17.7% HR/FB rate. While he induces ground balls, he also makes mistakes over the plate, and major league hitters capitalize on them.

Pivetta is essentially a three-pitch pitcher. While he has a change-up, a cutter and a sinker, he very rarely uses them. Mostly he throws a four-seamer, a curve, and a slider. In the last year, the usage of his curve ball has steadily increased. That means he’s getting even more used to throwing his curve where he wants it. It is effective for him too, as batters have struck out 14 times against it.

(Frustrating) Stat of the Day

Last night’s loss means the Reds have lost 23 games by two runs or less, which leads the majors. It’s stats like this that are frustrating. The Reds are so close to playing winning baseball, but haven’t quite turned the corner yet.

Lineups

REDS PHILLIES
1. Nick Senzel (CF)
2. Joey Votto (1B)
3. Eugenio Suarez (3B)
4. Derek Dietrich (2B)
5. Jesse Winker (RF)
6. Josh VanMeter (LF)
7. Jose Peraza (SS)
8. Tucker Barnhart (C)
9. Tanner Roark (P)
1. Cesar Hernandez (2B)
2. Bryce Harper (RF)
3. Jean Segura (SS)
4. Rhys Hoskins (1B)
5. J.T. Realmuto (C)
6. Jay Bruce (LF)
7. Scott Kingery (CF)
8. Maikel Franco (3B)
9. Nick Pivetta (P)

-Derek Dietrich and Eugenio Suarez each have a home run off Pivetta.

News and Notes

-Scooter Gennett is close to returning, as are Alex Blandino and Alex Wood.

-Joey Votto is starting to be Joey Votto again.

-Here’s how the Reds minor league teams did yesterday: