On the heels of playing a weak excuse for an MLB game Thursday in Cleveland, the Reds open a 3 game series against the Brewers tonight at Miller Park in Milwaukee. Game time is 8:10pm Eastern time.

Tonight starts a marked change in the Reds schedule. Up till now, they have played 10 interleague games and just 3 games within their division. However, now the table turns the other way with the Reds playing 18 divisional games and only 4 interleague games through the end of August and then  continuing in their own division through the first half of September.

Two teams in the division assured of a playoff spot and the other three eligible for Wild Card consideration giving every divisional game added weight. Let’s hope the team is loaded and ready for this 36 game intradivision run which could set the dye for their 2020 fate.

Starting Pitchers

It’s scheduled to be the Bauer/ Lauer show tonight at Miller Park. Bauer is, of course, Reds righthander hander Trevor Bauer, while the Brewers Lauer answers to the first name Eric and pitches with his left hand. Can this be correct? Are the Reds actually seeing a lefthanded starter? Well, that’s what the websites say.

Trevor Bauer

Trevor Bauer has been otherworldly in his 2 starts so far in 2020. Want proof “otherworldly” is not hyperbole?  Here’s his 2020 stat line courtesy of Fangraphs

Season Team G GS IP K% BB% GB% ERA FIP WAR
2020 Reds 2 2 13.1 42.5% 6.4% 41.7% 0.68 1.68 0.6

Like some icing on your cake? Bauer’s most recent outing was a complete (7 inning doubleheader) game shutout effort he finished by retiring 13 consecutive batters.

You can see Bauer’s career stats here

So how is Bauer doing these things? Has he made changes in how he is pitching?

Yes. According to Fangraphs, Bauer is throwing his fastball a full 12% more so far in 2020 than he did in 2019 (54.6%/42.3%). On the flip side, he has virtually dropped his changeup (0.9% vs 7.6% in 2019) and significantly curtailed the use of his curveball (14.8% vs 19.8% in 2019).  Bauer hasn’t significantly altered the velocity of any of his offerings.

Let’s just enjoy this run while we can and hope Bauer settles into a norm not too far removed from it.

Eric Lauer

Eric Lauer makes his first ever start for the Brewers tonight after coming to them from the Padres in an off season trade. Lauer had logged 52 starts with the Padres in 2018-19. Have a look at his Padre Years.

2018 4.34 4.51 1.54 1.21 19.8% 9.1%
2019 4.45 4.23 1.40 1.20 21.2% 7.8%

Looks reasonable to expect the Reds to put the ball in play on at least 70% of their plate appearances. But it bears mentioning that in 2019 Lauer actually had severe reverse splits with LH batters hitting for both much better average and power against him than RH batters. His career handedness splits are also reverse but not to the extent as in 2019. So, we shall see….

See more of Lauer’s stats here

What to Expect

Based on past performance, look for Lauer to throw his four seam fastball in the low 90 MPH range on just less than 60% of his pitches. His lead secondary pitch is a cut fastball thrown enough slower than his four seamer to cause timing issues for hitters. He throws this cutter about 1/3 of the time. He will change pace more severely on about 10% of his pitches by flashing either a curve or change up.



José De León threw 48 pitches in a 1.2 inning relief stint Thursday. And that’s just for starts. Cody Reed followed and needed 20 pitches to record the single out of his 0.1 inning appearance.  Safe to say DeLeón will not be available tonight. Reed would rate as possible for a short appearance.


Freddy Peralta thew 54 pitches to cover 3 innings Thursday night. Eric Yardley tossed  28 pitches to complete 1 inning. Count Peralta out for a couple of days and Yardley unlikely tonight. And because everyone should be wondering; Josh Hader was last seen throwing all of 11 pitches in a save on Wednesday night. Count him ready to go.


Cincinnati Reds Milwaukee Brewers
Nick Senzel -CF Brock Holt – 3B
Nick Castellanos – RF Keston Hiura – 2B
Eugenio Suarez – 3B Christain Yelich – LF
Matt Davidson – 1B Logan Morrison – DH
Curt Casali – C Justin Smoak – 1B
Christian Colon – 2B Ben Gamel – CF
Jesse Winker – DH Omar Narvaez – C
Phillip Ervin – LF Mark Mathias – RF
Kyle Farmer – SS Orlando Arcia – SS

Understand giving Winker the start after his 2 hit night Thursday but wonder if something is going on with Votto.  Also given Winker’s career MLB stats versus LH pitching, it is curious to see him hitting ahead of Ervin and Farmer, particularly Ervin who tends to mash LH pitching. Perhaps Bell set his lineup in anticipation of seeing RH pitching following Lauer?

News and Notes

Not the kind of news one wants to hear; but, then again hardly a surprise these days


News has broken that the entire Cards/ Cubs weekend series has been cancelled

The Reds are reinforcing the ranks at their Prasco Park alternate/ backup facility

Reds add Brandon Finnegan, TJ Friedl, Rece Hinds to 60-man player pool

Final Thoughts

Here is a look at the NL Central standing as the Reds move into the heart of their season comprised of intradivisional play. Bear in mind that the top two finishers will automatically advance to the playoffs. League wide the best 2 remaining nonqualifiers will receive wildcard berths.

Note that the Cards and Brewers have a significant number of games in hand to the other 3 teams because of the Cardinals outbreak of COVID-19.

If for any reason all the teams do not play all 60 of their games, the expectation is that winning percentage will be used to determine final standings.

This is really no different from the normal way of doing things. It’s just that all the teams might not have played the same number of games.  And with that, it is game on! GO REDS!

Data courtesy of MLB.com, Fangraphs and Baseball Reference