The Cincinnati Reds (15-21) open up a series against the Pittsburgh Pirates (11-24) with a double header this afternoon, with the first pitch set for 4:10pm ET. Even though the games are all in Pittsburgh, in game two this evening the Reds will be the home team. Cincinnati is sending out Luis Castillo and Trevor Bauer. Pittsburgh counters with Steven Brault and Cody Ponce.

If Cincinnati has any shot at getting into the playoffs they must start winning today. And they need to take full advantage of playing the worst team in baseball eight times the rest of the season.

Game 1 Information

Starting Lineups

Cincinnati Reds

Pittsburgh Pirates

Joey Votto – 1B Erik Gonzalez – SS
Nick Castellanos – RF Kevin Newman – 2B
Matt Davidson – DH Bryan Reynolds – LF
Eugenio Suárez – 3B Colin Moran – DH
Jesse Winker – LF Gregory Polanco – RF
Aristides Aquino – CF Josh Bell – 1B
Curt Casali – C Ke’Bryan Hayes – 3B
Jose Garcia – SS Cole Tucker – CF
Kyle Farmer – 2B Jacob Stallings – C
Luis Castillo – SP Steven Brault – SP

With a lefty on the mound, the Reds are going with a bit of a different lineup. Mike Moustakas is sitting this one out, at least to start. Aristides Aquino gets the nod in center field – which, hopefully with Luis Castillo and his high ground ball rate won’t come back to hurt them. Kyle Farmer and Matt Davidson get starts as right-handed hitters, hoping to take advantage of the platoon advantage.

Starting Pitchers

Pitcher IP ERA WHIP BB% K%
Luis Castillo 37.1 4.10 1.47 9.0% 31.1%
Steven Brault 18.0 4.00 1.44 15.2% 17.7%
Links: Luis Castillo’s Stats | Steven Brault’s Stats

Luis Castillo

2020 Splits

RHH 77 21 4 0 0 4.9% 31.7% .273 .317 .325
LHH 85 19 4 1 4 12.9% 30.6% .260 .353 .507

Pitch Usage in 2020

4-Seam 2-Seam Slider Curve
Velo 97.7 97.7 87.2 88.6
Usage 31% 20% 19% 30%

Steven Brault

Small sample size in 2020 for Steven Brault with just 18.0 innings, but this season he’s gone from about a league average ground ball rate pitcher in the past to a guy with a very high rate of ground balls. His walk rate, which has always been high, is currently at a career high rate, too.

2020 Splits

vsRHH 71 13 1 0 0 15.5% 16.9% .224 .352 .241
vsLHH 8 1 1 0 0 12.5% 25.0% .167 .375 .333

He’s barely faced any lefties at all this season. Right-handed hitters haven’t done much against him other than walk a lot. They’ve managed just one extra-base hit against him in 58 at-bats this year.

Pitch Usage in 2020

4-Seam 2-Seam Slider Curve Change
Velo 93.1 91.7 83.3 75.2 85.7
Usage 41% 9% 26% 2% 21%

Game 2 Information

Starting Lineups

Pittsburgh Pirates

Cincinnati Reds

Kevin Newman – SS Joey Votto – 1B
Adam Frazier – 2B Nick Castellanos – RF
Bryan Reynolds – LF Jesse Winker – DH
Colin Moran – 1B Eugenio Suárez – 3B
Gregory Polanco – RF Mike Moustakas – 2B
Josh Bell – DH Brian Goodwin – CF
Ke’Bryan Hayes – 3B Shogo Akiyama – LF
Anthony Alford – CF Jose Garcia – SS
John Ryan Murphy – C Tucker Barnhart – C
Cody Ponce – SP Trevor Bauer – SP

Starting Pitchers

Pitcher IP ERA WHIP BB% K%
Trevor Bauer 38.0 2.13 0.79 7.6% 37.2%
Cody Ponce 9.0 2.00 1.22 8.3% 13.9%
Links: Trevor Bauer’s Stats | Cody Ponce’s Stats

Trevor Bauer

2020 Splits

RHH 69 5 1 0 0 8.7% 37.7% .081 .174 .097
LHH 76 14 2 0 6 6.6% 36.7% .200 .263 .486

Trevor Bauer’s been good this year. Real good. But if you have to look at where someone has found some success against him, lefties have been able to put the ball in the seats against him.

Pitch Usage in 2020

4-Seam 2-Seam Cutter Change Slider Curve
Velo 93.8 94.5 85.0 84.5 80.8 79.6
Usage 51% 1% 22% 1% 15% 11%

Cody Ponce

There hasn’t been much big league action for Cody Ponce in his career. The 26-year-old has all of 9.0 total innings in Major League Baseball, and he only has 18.2 innings of Triple-A under his belt, too. He hasn’t spent much time starting in the last three seasons, making just 17 starts to go along with 49 relief appearances.

2019 MINOR LEAGUE Splits

vsRHH 135 29 6 0 4 7.4% 28.1% .246 .308 .398
vsLHH 130 25 7 0 2 7.7% 24.6% .217 .292 .330

With just 9.0 innings this year, I thought it would be more useful to look at his 2019 splits at the minor league level where he threw 63.0 innings – mostly out of the bullpen, and mostly in Double-A.

Pitch Usage in 2020

4-Seam 2-Seam Cutter Change Curve
Velo 93.7 93.3 89.7 85.0 78.0
Usage 37% 1% 31% 8% 23%

When and Where

  • Game time: 4:10pm ET
  • Where: PNC Park, Pittsburgh
  • Watch: Fox Sports Ohio,
  • Listen: 700 WLW AM (Cincinnati area)
  • Forecast: 77°, sunny, 0% chance of rain

NL Central Standings

Team Wins Losses GB
Cubs 22 15
Cardinals 14 14 3.5
Brewers 17 19 4.5
Reds 16 21 6.0
Pirates 11 24 10.0

News and Notes

The Taxi Squad

Today will have right-handed pitcher José De León as the 29th player on the roster for the double header. The Reds are traveling with a full 5-man taxi squad this road trip. Joining José De León on the taxi squad is infielder Alex Blandino, catcher Tyler Stephenson, outfielder Travis Jankowski, and right-handed pitcher Sal Romano.

Wade Miley could be back soon. Nick Senzel’s return date remains uncertain

Nick Senzel is still working out at Prasco Park, but his return timetable remains uncertain. Wade Miley, however, could return on this road trip if things go well today as he’s set to throw at Prasco Park.

Reds Nick Senzel’s return still uncertain, Wade Miley could return soon

Phillip Ervin claimed by the Mariners

In the “in case you missed it on the off day” category, Phillip Ervin was claimed by the Seattle Mariners on Thursday.

Seattle Mariners claim Phillip Ervin on waivers from the Reds

Reds complete their trade with the Angels

Also in the same category, the Reds sent left-handed pitching prospect Jose Salvador to the Los Angeles Angels to complete their trade for Brian Goodwin, which originally included a player to be named later. Salvador was that player.

Cincinnati Reds trade LHP Jose Salvador to the Angels

Updated Playoff Odds

As the Reds enter the 4-game series with Pittsburgh, Fangraphs now projects them to finish 29-31 and gives them a 38.5% chance of making the playoffs. Baseball Reference now gives them a 20.7% chance of making the playoffs.