The Cincinnati Reds (11-14) will try to pick up a win this afternoon against the St. Louis Cardinals (8-8) to get a split in the 4-game series. The pitching match up will feature two right-handed pitchers, with Tyler Mahle facing off against Daniel Ponce de Leon.

Starting Lineups

Cincinnati Reds

St. Louis Cardinals

Joey Votto – 1B Kolten Wong – 2B
Nick Castellanos – RF Brad Miller – 3B
Jesse Winker – DH Paul Goldschmidt – DH
Eugenio Suárez – 3B Matt Carpenter – 1B
Mike Moustakas – 2B Tyler O’Neill – LF
Shogo Akiyama – CF Yadier Molina – C
Mark Payton – LF Paul DeJong – SS
Freddy Galvis – SS Dylan Carlson – RF
Tucker Barnhart – C Harrison Bader – CF
Tyler Mahle – SP Daniel Ponce de Leon – SP

The Reds lineup is stacked with left-handed hitters against Daniel Ponce de Leon, who is a righty, but as noted below- he had big reverse splits last season and was significantly better against lefties than righties. Left-handed hitters did walk a lot more, but they also struck out a lot more and showed next to no power at all against him in 2019.

Starting Pitchers

Pitcher IP ERA WHIP BB% K%
Tyler Mahle 13.1 3.38 1.13 10.7% 28.6%
D. Ponce De Leon 7.1 6.14 1.50 17.6% 25.0%
Links: Tyler Mahle’s Stats | Daniel Ponce de Leon’s Stats

Tyler Mahle

When the year began, Tyler Mahle was not going to be in the rotation. The Reds had signed Wade Miley to be their 5th starter, pushing Mahle either into the bullpen or back to Triple-A. But then 2020 happened, injuries happened, and Mahle is now about to make his 3rd start of the season and his 4th appearance.

2019 Splits

RHH 298 70 10 0 10 4.4% 25.5% .252 .294 .396
LHH 258 66 11 1 15 8.1% 20.5% .282 .345 .530

Last season there was a pretty big difference in how Tyler Mahle succeeded against lefties and righties. Left-handed hitters just crushed him. They walked about twice as often – though that wasn’t really an issue as the walk rate was still fairly good. The biggest problem was that lefties had big time power against him, slugging .530 on the season. This season, in a very small sample size, lefties had a .495 OPS against him. They also had a .190 BABIP against him. It’s all of 33 plate appearances, so it’s not meaningful in any way.

Pitch Usage in 2020

4-Seam 2-Seam Slider Splitter Curve Cutter
Velo 94.3 90.8 85.5 88.7 80.5 87.6
Usage 57% 1% 9% 13% 1% 20%

There’s a few things to note here about changes between 2019 and 2020. Tyler Mahle’s tripled the rate in which he’s throwing a cutter, going from 6.6% of the time to 20% of the time. He’s also basically dropped his curveball, going from throwing it 23% of the time to 1% of the time. A slider, that he had thrown in the 2017 and 2018 disappeared in 2019, but is back in 2020.

Daniel Ponce de Leon

Much like Tyler Mahle, Daniel Ponce de Leon will be making his 3rd start of the year, and his 4th appearance on the season when he takes the mound this afternoon. He’s thrown about half as many innings as Mahle this season, though, tossing just 7.1 total innings. He’s struck out 15 of the 34 batters he’s faced this season, but also given up five runs.

2019 Splits

vsRHH 120 25 4 0 6 10.0% 19.2% .234 .317 .439
vsLHH 83 11 3 0 0 16.9% 34.9% .164 .313 .209

The sample sizes for Daniel Ponce de Leon last year wasn’t very large, but it’s a lot larger than 2020’s so we’re looking at it. He walks a lot of batters, but his strikeout rate against lefties was on the elite level, while against righties it was below-average. At least in 2019 he showed reverse splits.

Pitch Usage in 2020

4-Seam Cutter Curve Change
Velo 93.9 87.6 79.1 87.8
Usage 59% 16% 21% 4%

Small sample size this season, but his curveball usage is up from 10% last season  (and 3% the year before) to 21% this season. Fastball usage is down from 70% to 59%, too. The change up exists, but it doesn’t show up too frequently.

When and Where

  • Game time: 2:15pm ET
  • Where: St. Louis’ Busch Stadium
  • Watch: Fox Sports Ohio,
  • Listen: 700 WLW AM (Cincinnati area)
  • Forecast: 89°, sunny, 0% chance of rain.

NL Central Standings

Team Wins Losses GB
Cubs 16 10
Cardinals 8 8 3.0
Reds 11 14 4.5
Brewers 11 14 4.5
Pirates 6 17 8.5

News and Notes

Mark Payton, who made his Major League debut last night in the top of the 9th inning as a pinch hitter, will be getting his first career start this afternoon.

Updating the playoff odds

Yesterday in the game preview we shared that Fangraphs had the playoff odds for Cincinnati at 59.9% heading into the game. Following the loss to St. Louis last night that dropped to 53.7%. It’s barely ahead of the Brewers (52.9%), but behind the Cardinals (63.2%) and the Cubs (93.5%).

The offense hasn’t been good

The Cincinnati Reds offense has struggled this season, as I’m sure you know. They rank last in average (.210), 11th in on-base percentage (.314), 9th in slugging (.408), 10th in OPS (.722), and 10th in OPS+ (91 – where 100 is league average) in the National League.

Eugenio Suárez needs to get going

After setting a new record for most home runs by a Venezeulan born player in 2019, Eugenio Suárez is off to about as slow of a start as you could imagine. The Reds third baseman is hitting .145/.283/.277. He’s walking a lot, but he’s not hitting at all. At no point this season has his average been higher than .158. His BABIP is .170, so you should expect things to change a little bit. Still, his exit velocity is down, his hard hit rate is down, his launch angle is down, and his ground ball rate is up and at the highest it’s ever been. That’s not exactly the production you’re looking for from your cleanup hitter.

Tejay Antone continues to impress

After another strong outing in last night’s game, Tejay Antone lowered his ERA to 1.72 on the season in 15.2 innings. He’s now struck out 21 of the 60 batters he’s faced (that’s a 35% strikeout rate). He’s also rocking a ground ball rate of 50% this season (league average is 42.6%).