Tonight the Cincinnati Reds (8-11) will host to the Pittsburgh Pirates (4-13) for the second game of a four game series at Great American Ballpark. Things almost have to go better than they did on Thursday when starter Anthony DeSclafani was tipping his pitches and allowed nine runs in the first two innings of the game. Cincinnati will turn to the ace of their staff, Sonny Gray, to face off against Chad Kuhl at 7:10pm ET.

Starting Lineups

Pittsburgh Pirates

Cincinnati Reds

Adam Frazier – 2B Shogo Akiyama – LF
Kevin Newman – SS Nick Castellanos – RF
Josh Bell – 1B Joey Votto – 1B
Colin Moran – DH Jesse Winker – DH
Bryan Reynolds – LF Nick Senzel – CF
Gregory Polanco – RF Josh VanMeter – 2B
Erik González – 3B Freddy Galvis – SS
Cole Tucker – CF Tucker Barnhart – C
Jacob Stallings – C Kyle Farmer – 3B
Chad Kuhl – SP Sonny Gray – RP

As you can see in the pitcher breakdown below, historically lefties have handled Chad Kuhl a lot better than righties have. David Bell stacked the lineup again tonight with lefties, with only Nick Castellanos, Nick Senzel, and Kyle Farmer being right-handed hitters when the game starts (Freddy Galvis is a switch hitter).

Starting Pitchers

Pitcher IP ERA WHIP BB% K%
Sonny Gray 24.0 2.25 0.92 8.4% 36.8%
Chad Kuhl 9.0 2.00 1.00 8.6% 34.3%
Links: Sonny Gray’s Stats | Chad Kuhl’s Stats

Sonny Gray

In 2020, Sonny Gray leads the National League in wins, strikeouts, and wild pitches. Two out of three isn’t so bad, right? In his three home starts this season, he’s dominated the Tigers, Cubs, and Indians. But in his last start out in Milwaukee was a bit of a struggle as he allowed four earned in 5.1 innings as he was charged with his first loss of the season.

2020 Splits

vsRHH 44 7 0 0 1 4.5% 45.5% .171 .227 .244
vsLHH 51 7 2 1 1 11.8% 29.4% .159 .275 .318

This season has seen Sonny Gray outclass both lefties and righties, but he’s on a different level against right-handed hitters this year so far. He’s got a 10-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio against them and he’s striking out an absurd 45.5% of them. Against left-handed hitters the strikeout rate is still impressive at 29.4%, but the walk rate is pretty high at 11.8%. They aren’t doing much damage when they do get the bat on the ball, but lefties have found more success than righties thus far.

Pitch Usage in 2020

4-Seam 2-Seam Slider Curve Change
Velo 93.5 93.2 83.5 81.0 89.0
Usage 27% 28% 20% 24% 2%

Two fastballs. Two breaking balls. Two change ups per game. That’s what you’re going to get from Sonny Gray on a typical day.

Chad Kuhl

It’s been an interesting season for Chad Kuhl in 2020. A starter from 2016-2018 who made 61 appearances – all starts – is coming back from Tommy John surgery after missing all of the 2019 season. The Pirates pitched him out of the bullpen every five days the first two weeks of the season, but he made his first start of the year against Detroit on August 7th in a while game that saw him allow one run over the first 4.0 innings, only to see the bullpen go on to give up 16 runs going forward in a 17-13 loss. He has thrown 55, 28, and 58 pitches in his appearances this season, so don’t expect a long outing from the right-hander as he continues working his way back.

2020 Splits

He’s only faced 23 right-handed hitters and just 12 left-handed hitters. His splits aren’t very useful for this season. Unfortunately, his splits for his career mostly took place before 2019, too, so they aren’t entirely useful today, either. But he has had more success against right-handed hitters (.704 OPS against) than left-handed hitters (.869 OPS against). Lefties have struck out more often, but have also walked significantly more often and hit for a lot more power against him in the past.

Pitch Usage in 2020

4-Seam 2-Seam Slider Curve Change
Velo 95.0 94.5 87.5 81.2 88.0
Usage 9% 31% 37% 20% 3%

We’re dealing with a limited sample size for everyone in 2020 so far, but even more so for Chad Kuhl given his usage so far this season. His velocity is down across the board from where he was at pre-Tommy John surgery, with everything being down about 1.5-2.0 MPH.

When and Where

  • Game time: 7:10pm ET
  • Where: Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark
  • Watch: Fox Sports Ohio,
  • Listen: 700 WLW AM (Cincinnati area)
  • Forecast: 80°, cloudy, 15% chance of rain.

NL Central Standings

Team Wins Losses GB
Cubs 13 3
Reds 8 11 6.5
Brewers 7 10 6.5
Cardinals 2 3 5.5
Pirates 4 13 9.5

We apologize for botching the standings in yesterday’s game thread that had the Cardinals in second place due to the amount of “games back” they were being the least amount. What we should have done was use winning percentage, which is actually what determines the standings. We’ll (and by we, I mean I – Doug Gray) will try to do better moving forward.

News and Notes

Fangraphs projects the Cincinnati Reds playoff odds at 54.1% going into the game tonight, and has their season projected record at 30-30 despite their 8-11 start.

Chad Dotson on Nick Castellanos

Our friend, founder of Redleg Nation, best podcast host on the planet, and noted movie aficionado Chad Dotson wrote about Nick Castellanos this week over at Cincinnati Magazine. There’s a lot worth reading, so you better click this link and go read it, but I found this piece of information from the article particularly awesome.

First things first: Castellanos has always been a good hitter, and a doubles machine. He led the majors with 58 doubles last year, only the 10th player in the entire history of baseball to hit that mark. The last time a right-handed hitter reached that total, before Castellanos last year? Try 1936.

Nineteen Hundred and Thirty Six. That’s awesome.

Jesse Winker has been the Reds best hitter

Sub-headline is garbage, but let’s talk about how good Jesse Winker has been for a second. He’s entering the game tonight hitting .347/.467/.592. He’s leading the team in average, on-base percentage, OPS, and OPS+. He’s 6th in the league in average, 4th in on-base percentage, 8th in OPS and OPS+. That’ll work. Not bad for a guy who after a week some were calling on to be sent over to Prasco Park, huh?

Anthony DeSclafani was tipping his pitches

After the game on Thursday night, catcher Tucker Barnhart noted that they believed that starter Anthony DeSclafani was tipping his pitches during the game, but they caught it a little bit too late and the damage was already done.

Anthony DeSclafani’s tipped pitches cost the Reds on Thursday