It’s going to be a very Gray evening at Coors Field in Denver, no matter what the weather forecast says.

The Reds and Colorado Rockies will send pitchers with the same surname (though not related) to the mound as both teams play their first game after the All-Star break. It’s the first-ever Gray vs. Gray matchup in Major League Baseball history.

The Reds are 41-46, and the Rockies are 44-45. In essence, the Reds are two games behind Colorado in the race for a National League playoff berth, so this series has importance for both teams.

The Rockies are one of eight teams between the Reds and qualifying for a Wild Card berth, so getting hot and staying hot must happen at some point for Cincinnati if they have any realistic hopes of making the playoffs. Hanging around .500 obviously won’t cut it. All of the Reds’ opponents for the remainder of July also have similar post-season aspirations. We’ll probably know in relatively short order if the Reds are contenders or pretenders.

Game time at Coors Field tonight in the first of a three-game series is 8:40 p.m. Eastern time.

Starting Pitchers

Name IP ERA xFIP K% BB%
Sonny Gray 90.1 3.59 3.46 27.8% 8.9%
Jon Gray 108 3.92 3.86 25.1% 9.2%

This pitching matchup appears to be about as even as the spelling of the starters’ respective last names. Sonny Gray’s last outing before the All-Star break was the 8-inning, 12-strikeout, 1-walk performance against the Brewers. I was watching the Milwaukee TV for that game, and the announcers were almost in awe of what Sonny Gray was doing. Brewers color analyst Bill Schroeder, a former major league catcher, said you just don’t see pitchers any more who dominate with the curveball as their primary pitch. Schroeder compared Sonny Gray’s curve to Bert Blyleven’s. If you are old enough to remember back to the 70s and 80s, Blyleven had probably the most effective curve out-pitch that there was at the time. The Reds are 8-2 in Gray’s last 10 starts. Jon Gray’s ERA and xFiP are very slightly higher than Sonny Gray’s, but you can probably attribute that to pitching half of his games in Coors Field.

(Interestingly, there is also an Anderson-vs.-Anderson starting pitching matchup tonight in Milwaukee: San Francisco’s Shaun Anderson vs. the Brewers’ Chase Anderson.)

Bullpen

Hopefully the bullpen has taken full advantage of four full days off from pitching. The Reds now have a lefthander available:

Josh VanMeter was sent to Louisville earlier in the week as a precursor to this move. Amir Garrett is due back in another day or two, and it will be interesting to see what move is made to make room for him. Other interesting decisions looming in the near future regarding making room for players currently on the disabled list involve Alex Wood and Tucker Barnhart.

Starting Lineups

Reds Rockies
LF Jesse Winker RF Charlie Blackmon
1B Joey Votto SS Trevor Story
3B Eugenio Suarez LF David Dahl
RF Yasiel Puig 3B Nolan Arenado
2B Scooter Gennett 1B Daniel Murphy
CF Nick Senzel CF Ian Desmond
SS Jose Iglesias 2B Ryan McMahon
P Sonny Gray C Tony Wolters
C Curt Casali P Jon Gray

Sonny Gray faces quite the challenge tonight, as does the Reds pitching staff as a whole: a Rockies batting order in which the first four hitters are 2019 All-Stars.

If Gennett can begin to recapture his offensive production of the past couple of seasons, that would be like the Reds making a mid-season acquisition without having to give up anybody. The team needs more offensive consistency, and Gennett is a possible source.

Additional insights into the statistical history of the players in today’s game is available all season long at BaseballSavant.com.

News and Notes

All games this weekend on MLB.com’s online streaming video package are free. So if you are not in the Cincinnati and Denver markets (and therefore blacked-out), you will be able to watch online without charge. …

The Reds have signed another former Rays catcher. Curt Casali is also a former Tampa Bay player who joined the team under similar circumstances last year …

If you had the chance to watch this guy pitch, you were very lucky …