The Cincinnati Reds (63-69) go for the 4-game sweep of the Miami Marlins (47-85) tonight. The Reds are trying to scratch and claw their way back to the .500 mark, and they have one month left to do so.

Starting Pitchers

Alex Wood (1-3, 6.07 ERA, 29.2 IP, 8 HR, 7 BB, 22 K)

The start to the season hasn’t been kind to left-handed pitcher Alex Wood. The home run ball has been his biggest issue thus far, giving up eight of them in his six starts and 29.2 innings pitched. He’s thrown plenty of strikes, walking just seven batters on the season. But catching too much of the strikezone has been a problem for Wood, as noted by Matt Wilkes yesterday morning.

Perhaps pitching in a larger ballpark in Miami will be one reason he could avoid the long ball. But Alex Wood would probably prefer to just execute his pitches a little bit better than he has thus far in the season.

With just six starts under his belt, breaking down his splits isn’t going to be too useful given the sample size. With that said, we’re going to do it. Both lefties and righties have been teeing off on him thus far. He’s only faced 25 lefties this season, and he hasn’t walked any of them. But they are hitting .320/.320/.640 against him with half of their hits being for extra-bases (two doubles, two homers). Righties are hitting .287/.343/.553 against him in 104 trips to the plate against him. They’ve touched him up for seven doubles and seven homers.

Robert Dugger (0-1, 10.80 ERA, 5.0 IP, 2 HR, 4 BB, 3 K)

The 24-year-old right-hander will be making just his second appearance in the Major Leagues when he takes the mound tonight. Given that, let’s talk a little bit about his 2019 performance in the minors. He pitched well in Double-A Jacksonville, posting a 3.31 ERA in 70.2 innings with 21 walks and 73 strikeouts. Things didn’t go nearly as well in Triple-A New Orleans. His ERA spiked to 7.59 in 53.1 innings where he allowed 12 homers, 74 hits, walked 17, and struck out 49. The baseball is flying like crazy in Triple-A, but it’s also doing that in the Majors because they are using the same juiced baseball.

And that is probably good news for the Reds hitters. Robert Dugger has shown to be prone to home runs between Triple-A and the Majors this season, giving up 14 of them in just 58.0 innings between those two stops. That’s a HR/9IP rate of 2.17. That would be the worst in the Major Leagues among qualified pitchers. Only two pitchers are above 1.85 this season.

Looking at his Triple-A splits shows that he got lit up by both lefties and righties. Lefties hit .325 against him, while righties were at .336 against him. But against right-handed hitters his ERA was 8.66, while against lefties it was only 5.50. Lefties did show better plate discipline stats, though, with 9 walks and 15 strikeouts compared to eight walks and 34 strikeouts by righties against him.

This is exactly the type of pitcher that a Major League team should be able to take full advantage of. Triple-A teams beat him around the yard for the last two months. While the yard is bigger in Miami than the ones he was pitching in in the Pacific Coast League, the hitters are also bigger – and better – in the Major League batters box.

Starting Lineups

Cincinnati Reds

  1. Josh VanMeter – LF
  2. Joey Votto – 1B
  3. Eugenio Suarez – 3B
  4. Aristides Aquino – RF
  5. Freddy Galvis – 2B
  6. Nick Senzel – CF
  7. Tucker Barnhart – C
  8. Jose Iglesias – SS
  9. Alex Wood – SP

Miami Marlins

  1. Jon Berti – SS
  2. Garrett Cooper – 1B
  3. Starlin Castro – 3B
  4. Jorge Alfaro – C
  5. Harold Ramirez – RF
  6. Isan Diaz – 2B
  7. Lewis Brinson – CF
  8. Austin Dean – LF
  9. Robert Dugger – SP

Pre-game Notes

Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer reported last night that Jesse Winker won’t return to the active roster until at least September 1st. He’s currently on the 10-day injured list with a cervical strain.

Aristides Aquino has had a whole lot of words written and said about all of the home runs he’s hit. But he’s chasing a Reds record that no one has really been talking about.

Tyler Mahle will be recalled and will start one of the games on Saturday in the Reds double header against St. Louis.

Ryan Lavarnway has been released by the Reds. He had been playing at Triple-A Louisville where he was hitting .225/.319/.500 through 47 plate appearances.

The Cincinnati Reds are sending several of their top position player prospects to play in the Arizona Fall League this year.

Earlier today at Redleg Nation: Redleg Nation Radio released this weeks episode a day earlier than usual. So if you missed out, be sure to check in with Chad and Bill as they discuss the Reds plan for 2020, the ugly players weekend uniforms and more. Jeff Gangloff took a look at Freddy Galvis and discusses whether he could be a solution for the Reds moving forward.