The Reds take on the Cubs tonight in the second game of the current 4 game series at Great American Ballpark. Game time is 6:40pm EDT.

Monday saw  the Reds suffer an 8-7 loss, their third consecutive, as a late comeback effort came up short. You can read the Redleg Nation recap of Monday’s here.

The Reds now find themselves very much in need of a win tonight to stem their 3 game losing streak and assure the season doesn’t spiral away from them out of the gate.

Starting Pitchers

Righthander Tyler Mahle is the scheduled Reds starter. The Cubs will counter with Alec Mills, also a righty. Ironically, both Mahle and Mills are getting the call tonight due to injury to their respective team’s projected fifth starter. Mahle is in for Anthony Desclafani who is out, hopefully for just one start, due to a teres major strain to his (right) pitching arm. The Cubs projected fifth starter, Jose Quintana is unable to go tonight due to a left thumb injury.

Tale of the Tape

How did tonight’s starters fare against MLB level competition in 2019?

Green numbers indicate better than median level of qualified starters in 2019. Red worse than median level

PITCHER ERA FIP WHIP HR/9 BB% K%
Tyler Mahle 5.14 4.66 1.31 1.74 6.1% 23.2%
Alec Mills 2.75 4.09 1.17 1.25 7.2% 27.6%

Comparing ERA/FIP, Mahle appears to have pitched to what he deserved in 2019 which wasn’t up to snuff while Mills seemingly enjoyed some favorable luck in 2019.

Neither Mahle or Mills had enough MLB starts in 2019 to be a qualified starter in statistical rankings. However, if they had been, both would have been in the top half of MLB qualified starters in terms of K% and BB%. Mills WHIP would have rated in the vicinity of 20th in the MLB; but, Mahle’s WHIP figure was no better than 40th of 58 qualified starters.  Distressingly for Reds fans, Mahle’s HR/9 rate was in the bottom 5 range for qualified starters.

Truth is Tyler Mahle has yet to get over the hump and consistently perform at the level many expected of him. In normal times 2020 might have been a make or break season for Mahle as starting pitcher for the Reds. Now in his first start of the season he finds himself on the mound at a pivotal moment for the Reds. Hopefully, he will be able to rise to the occasion.

Bullpens

On Monday, Tejay Antone gave the Reds a fighting chance to get back into a game which looked to be a blowout against them when he entered. He won’t be available tonight after throwing 4.1 innings in that effort. Brooks Raley needed 36 pitches to get through 2 innings following Antoine and also figures be on the shelf tonight.

Three Cubs relievers threw 20 or more pitches and figure to be unavailable tonight. Most notable among that group is their closer Craig Kimbrel.

Starting Lineups

Chicago Cubs Cincinnati Reds
Anthony Rizzo – 1B Shogo Akiyama – CF
Victor Caratini -C Joey Votto – 1B
Javier Baez – SS Eugenio Suarez – 3B
Kyle Schwarber – LF Jesse Winker – DH
Ian Happ – CF Nick Castellanos – RF
Jason Heyward – RF Josh VanMeter – 2B
David Bote – 3B Aristides Aquino – LF
Jason Kipnis – DH Freddy Galvis – SS
Nico Hoerner – 2B Curt Casali – C

News and Notes

Two guys made their MLB debut Monday night for the Reds and both came up big on the positive side. Check out Doug Gray’s deep dive into Tejay Antone’s sterling relief performance which gave the Reds a chance to get back into the game.

Tejay Antone: “Unbelievable” in his Reds debut

Then listen to Tyler Stephenson talk about his 2 hit MLB premier which included his first MLB HR.

Final Thoughts

Several days ago somebody came up with the  idea of dividing 60 into 162 to figure the relative value of a game this season versus the value of a single game in a normal 162 game season. The number they got was 2.7.  There are a myriad of reasons why this ratio might not be a spot on comparison tool; but, for argument’s sake let’s have a look.

The 2.7 ratio equates the Reds 1-3 start to a 3-8 start in a typical season. A loss tonight would bump that count to 3-11. The Reds need a win tonight to keep someone from dragging out the Yogism about things getting late early. GO REDS! 


Data courtesy of  Fangraphs and  MLB.com