The Cincinnati Reds have announced their playoff rotation, and with the ability to clinch a spot in the playoffs on Friday night, it allows them to set things up just how they want to. Trevor Bauer, who was scheduled to pitch on Sunday if needed, will now forgo that start and will pitch the first game of the playoffs on Wednesday. He’ll be followed in game two by Luis Castillo on Thursday. If needed, Sonny Gray will pitch in a decisive game three on Friday.
Who the Reds will play, and where, is still unknown. This year the first round of the playoffs will be a best of three series hosted at the higher seeds home ballpark before teams go to Texas (National League) and California (American League) to enter the playoff bubble for the remainder of the postseason.
We won’t find out if Trevor Bauer won the Cy Young Award until after the playoffs, but he’s got as good of an argument as anyone (and probably a better one, at that). At the time, no one knew that the start against Milwaukee on the 23rd would be his final start of the year. But with how everything has worked out since, it was. And talk about going out on a high note. Bauer struck out 12 batters in 8.0 innings with just one run, one walk, and just four hits allowed. That dropped his ERA to a National League best 1.73 and gave him 100 strikeouts in 73.0 innings on the year.
Not needed to pitch again until Thursday, manager David Bell and pitching coach Derek Johnson decided to send Luis Castillo to the mound on Saturday in Minnesota to keep him on normal rest. It wasn’t his best start of the season as he allowed four earned in 4.0 innings. He finishes the regular season with a 3.21 ERA in 70.0 innings with 24 walks and 89 strikeouts.
Later today will see Sonny Gray take the mound against the Twins in the regular season finale. The right-handed starter was initially scheduled to pitch out of the bullpen this weekend, just to get some work and be ready for the playoffs – but now he’ll go on Sunday and be ready for Friday if needed, or for the National League Division Series if a game three isn’t needed. He’ll enter the game with a 3.73 ERA in 50.2 innings with 22 walks and 68 strikeouts. Of course, those numbers don’t tell the story – Gray’s first two starts of September destroyed his ERA when he was clearly pitching at less than 100% health and he then spent some time on the injured list before returning last week. Outside of those two starts he’s thrown 46.2 innings this season with an ERA of 1.93.