The Cincinnati Reds (28-35) try to avoid a three-game sweep against the Philadelphia Phillies (37-27) at Citizens Bank Park this afternoon. First pitch is set for 1:05 ET.

Starting Pitchers

Name IP ERA FIP xFIP K% BB%
Sonny Gray 61.0 3.54 2.95 3.29 26.90% 9.10%
Aaron Nola 70.0 4.63 4.39 3.80 25.50% 10.00%

REDS

When the Reds traded for Sonny Gray and signed him to an extension in the off-season, his performance through the first two months of the season is exactly what the club was hoping for. Gray has been an excellent addition to a rotation that had been one of the worst in baseball the last few seasons. He’s got a 3.54 ERA/2.95 FIP with 68 strikeouts and 23 walks in 61.0 innings. In his last start, he pitched five innings of one run baseball, striking out four and walking one against the Washington Nationals.

According to Baseball Savant, Gray is throwing more sliders and less curve balls then he did a season ago, which is a little weird because he made it known that the Yankees had him throw too many sliders and that it was a reason for his struggles. More noticeable than the slider usage is that Gray’s been throwing his sinker a lot less. It was his most used pitch in 2018 (30.5%). This season he’s only used it 15.8% of the time. He gave up four home runs off the sinker alone in 2018. In 2019, he’s given up four home runs total and none off the sinker.

No Phillies player has more than five at-bats vs. Gray. But of course, the one player who has had success of him is Jay Bruce, who is 2-for-5 with a home run and a double off him.

PHILLIES

Aaron Nola was the breakout player of the year in 2018. In 33 starts, Nola had a 2.37 ERA/3.01 FIP with 224 strikeouts and only 58 walks. He finished third in the NL Cy Young award voting, behind Jacob Degrom and Max Scherzer. This season, however, his performance hasn’t been to the standard of where he was last season.

Despite his regression, Nola’s K/9 rate has actually gone up from 9.49 last season to 10.16. He is still a very good strikeout pitcher, but his BB% and HR/9 are elevated from 2018. His HR/9 rate, in particular, has skyrocketed, from 0.72 to 1.41. He’s already given up 11 home runs in 2019. For comparison, he gave up 17 home runs all of last season and 18 in 2017.

Nola relies on four pitches and throws all of them with some regularity. In 2019, he has thrown his curve a little more than the four-seamer. Not locating the curve ball well might have something to do with his home run totals being up. Nola has already given up three home runs off the curve ball. Batters hit three home runs off the curve over the entire season in 2018.

Derek Dietrich has a home run in 20 plate appearances off Nola. Eugenio Suarez also has a home run off him. The player who hasn’t done well at all in facing him? Joey Votto, who is 0-for-12 against him.

Lineups

Cincinnati Reds

  1. Jesse Winker – LF
  2. Joey Votto – 1B
  3. Eugenio Suarez – 3B
  4. Derek Dietrich – 2B
  5. Yasiel Puig – RF
  6. Jose Iglesias – SS
  7. Jose Peraza – CF
  8. Curt Casali – C
  9. Sonny Gray – SP

Philadelphia Phillies

  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. Aaron Nola – SP

News and Notes

-Tomorrow is today. Nothing is wrong with Nick Senzel. It’s just a day off.

-Here’s a little pregame reading for you.

-I finally got the content I’ve been waiting for on the Reds Twitter profile: Joey Votto and Jay Bruce together.

Baseball Highlight That Has Nothing to Do With The Reds, But Is Too Good Not to Share

-Kumar Rocker had 19 strikeouts en route to a no-hitter against Duke to keep Vandy’s season alive. College baseball is exciting this time of year.