Tonight will be the second game of a home-and-home 4-game series between the Cincinnati Reds (5-5) and the Cleveland Indians (5-6). It’s the final game that will be played at Great American Ballpark between the two teams before they both head to Cleveland for a match up on Wednesday and Thursday to decide who gets the Ohio Cup Trophy for 2020.

Starting Lineups

Cleveland Indians

Cincinnati Reds

Cesar Hernandez – 2B Shogo Akiyama – LF
Jose Ramirez – 3B Joey Votto – 1B
Francisco Lindor – SS Nick Castellanos – RF
Carlos Santana – 1B Mike Moustakas – 2B
Franmil Reyes – DH Eugenio Suarez – 3B
Bradley Zimmer – RF Jesse Winker – DH
Jordan Luplow – LF Nick Senzel – CF
Sandy Leon – C Freddy Galvis – SS
Oscar Mercado – CF Tucker Barnhart – C
Shane Bieber – SP Tyler Mahle – SP

Cleveland isn’t pulling any punches as six hitters in their lineup will begin the day from the left side of the plate against Tyler Mahle (see below for why that’s probably not a good sign). The Reds get Nick Senzel back in the lineup today after missing the game last night with a finger injury suffered on a double two days ago. Cincinnati, like Cleveland, also has six lefties in the lineup to begin their night against right-hander Shane Bieber.

Starting Pitchers

Pitcher IP ERA WHIP BB% K%
Tyler Mahle 4.0 4.50 1.75 5.6% 22.2%
Shane Bieber 14.0 0.00 0.57 2.0% 54.0%
Links: Tyler Mahle Stats | Shane Bieber Stats

Tyler Mahle

There were very different versions of Tyler Mahle in the 2019 season with the Reds. He was much stronger in the first half than in the second half, and he was also much better against right-handed hitters than left-handed hitters. He wasn’t expected to be in the rotation to begin the season, but with Anthony DeSclafani having to miss his first start of the season, Mahle stepped in and was solid, giving up two earned in 4.0 innings the first time through the rotation. With Wade Miley now on the injured list, Mahle remains in the Reds rotation and will get his second start of the season this evening.

Splits

Split IP ERA HR BB% K% AVG OBP SLG
Home 49.1 5.66 11 10.6% 25.2% .253 .341 .453
Away 80.1 4.82 14 3.3% 21.9% .273 .303 .460
1st Half 92.2 4.47 18 8.7% 25.4% .251 .307 .444
2nd Half 37.0 6.81 7 5.4% 18.0% .299 .341 .487

Home runs at Great American Ballpark were a real problem for Tyler Mahle as he gave up 11 of them in just 49.1 innings pitched at home in 2019. His walk rate was also significantly higher at home than it was on the road – perhaps due to feeling the need to be extra careful within the strikezone, leading to missing the edges a bit more than on the road.

In the second half of the season he didn’t pitch nearly as much. Following his start after the All-Star break he was placed on the injured list with a hamstring strain. He’s miss the next month before returning and being optioned to Triple-A for a little less than two weeks. He was recalled when the rosters expanded in September and made six starts in the month – with three of them being quite good, and the other three that were quite bad. When he did pitch in the second half, though, his strikeout rate dipped considerably.

Split PA H 2B 3B HR BB% K% AVG OBP SLG
vsRHH 298 70 10 0 10 4.4% 25.5% .252 .294 .396
vsLHH 258 66 11 1 15 8.1% 20.5% .282 .345 .530

This split could be the biggest issue for Tyler Mahle tonight. Left-handed hitters just crush him. And Cleveland’s can run out a lot of quality left-handed bats in their lineup.

Pitch Usage and Value

4-Seam 2-Seam Slider Splitter Curve Cutter
Velo (’19) 93.7 N/A N/A 87.5 80.8 90.4
2019 Usage 57% 0% 0% 14% 23% 7%
2020 Usage 57% 3% 29% 7% 4% 0%
Value/100 0.26 N/A N/A 1.64 0.02 -3.78
MLB Rank 55 N/A N/A 2 40 44
MLB Rank among 130 pitchers with 100 IP in 2019

You’ll notice that for Tyler Mahle I’ve included his pitch usage for last season as well as this season. There’s a reason for that. This season, at least in his first start, Mahle went to a slider that he didn’t throw in 2019. The curveball still showed up a few times in his first start, but by-and-large it was replaced with the slider which came in about 5 MPH harder (85.5 MPH in start #1).

What’s a little more interesting is how the pitch breakdown happened in his only start of 2020. Against right-handed hitters, Mahle went fastball 58% of the time and slider 42% of the time. He didn’t throw any other type of pitch to righties. Lefties, however, got 60% fastball, 7% curve, 22% slider, and 11% splitter. Keep an eye on the pitch usage tonight.

Shane Bieber

An All-Star as a 24-year-old last season, Shane Bieber was good. He went 15-8 with a 3.28 ERA (147 ERA+( while throwing 214.1 innings with 40 walks and 259 strikeouts. He finished 4th in the Cy Young voting in the league, while leading the league in complete games, shutouts, and walk rate. Through two starts this season he’s made last season look terrible. The right-handed starter has thrown 14.0 innings while allowing no runs, walking one batter, and he’s struck out 27 of the 50 batters that he’s faced.

Splits

Split IP ERA HR BB% K% AVG OBP SLG
Home 111.1 3.64 16 5.6% 29.1% .257 .305 .428
Away 103.0 2.88 15 3.5% 31.4% .199 .231 .353
1st Half 112.1 3.45 17 5.1% 31.5% .214 .260 .393
2nd Half 102.0 3.09 14 4.1% 28.7% .246 .282 .392

The splits for Shane Bieber tell the story of a good pitcher. While he pitched better away from his home ballpark, he was good at home and great on the road. Like most pitchers in 2019, there were some home runs allowed no matter where he pitched. Unlike most other guys, he mitigated the runs on those by walking almost no one.

The story is similar when it comes to his first and second half splits. He was a little better in the second half in terms of ERA, but opponents hit for a better average, and had a better on-base percentage and OPS in the second half. Both splits were very strong, though. He’s good.

Split PA H 2B 3B HR BB% K% AVG OBP SLG
vsRHH 451 99 20 1 13 4.4% 29.3% .231 .271 .374
vsLHH 408 87 17 0 18 4.9% 31.1% .228 .271 .414

Right-handers, left-handers – it didn’t really matter last season for Shane Bieber as he didn’t show struggles against either of them. His walk rate and strikeout rate were elite against both, and they had an OPS of .644 and .685 against him. Lefties did have the edge in power, so if you are going to find an advantage – even if it’s a small one – it’s going to be here.

Pitch Usage and Value

4-Seam Change Slider Curve
Velo 93.4 87.9 85.2 82.9
Usage 46% 7% 27% 21%
Value/100 1.02 -0.37 1.29 0.44
MLB Rank 20 69 24 25
MLB Rank among 130 pitchers with 100 IP in 2019

The good news is that Shane Bieber has a below-average pitch with his change up. The bad news for Reds hitters is that he uses it far less than any other offering that he throws, and those other three offerings are all good ones. Both the slider and the fastball are well above-average in terms of their 2019 value, and the curveball wasn’t quite as good but still better than average.

Late addition to this section, which isn’t reflected in the table above – but I’m not editing it – Bieber is also now throwing a cutter this year. The pitch comes in around the 87-90 MPH range and he’s thrown it 12% of the time – almost entirely cutting that percentage away from his slider while the other rates have been pretty similar as they were in 2019.

When and Where

  • Game time: 6:10pm ET
  • Where: Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark
  • Watch: Fox Sports Ohio, SportsTime Ohio, MLB Network (out of market only), MLB.tv
  • Listen: 700 WLW AM (Cincinnati area)
  • Forecast: Partly cloudy, 76°, 10% chance of rain.

NL Central Standings

Team Wins Losses GB
Cubs 8 2
Reds 5 5 3.0
Brewers 3 4 3.5
Cardinals 2 3 3.5
Pirates 2 8 6.0

News and Notes

The Miami Marlins are back online

There were no new positive tests today from the Miami Marlins and they will get back on the field tonight as they take on the Baltimore Orioles.

The St. Louis Cardinals could be back by Friday

Don’t mess with Nolan Ryan….

On this date in 1993 Robin Ventura learned a valuable and embarrassing lesson.