So, once again, it’s must-win time.
The Cincinnati Reds have had a few of those scenarios in recent weeks. None of them were quite as must-win as this one is today. But the good news is the Reds showed in the recent past they have the ability to do what is needed when it is needed the most.
Today’s game two of the National League Wild Card series pitting 7th seed Cincinnati against #2 seed Atlanta will start again at the noon hour Eastern time, as did Wednesday’s game.
As we pointed out in an article Tuesday, the Cincinnati resurgence of winning their last five regular-season series was almost completely attributable to their fantastic pitching. It’s going to be up to the pitching again if the Reds are to win these next two must-win games and a sixth consecutive series.
Update: Over the last 17 games (including Wednesday) in which the Reds are 12-5, the pitching staff has a team ERA of 2.79.
The statistics paint a picture of two similar righthanders. The big difference is that Anderson has only 32.1 innings of major league pitching experience, while Castillo has three-plus years of experience.
As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Wednesday about Anderson:
Little more than a month ago, he was pitching every fifth day in controlled intra-squad games against other players, mostly prospects, at the Gwinnett camp. Thursday, after just six major-league starts, he will face the Cincinnati Reds in Game 2 of a best-of-three National League wild-card series at Truist Park.
“I feel prepared,” Anderson said. “All the work I’ve put in to get here, and throughout the season since I’ve been up here, has been kind of leading up to this moment.”
The 22-year-old right-hander was promoted to the big leagues for the first time Aug. 25, about halfway through a shortened 60-game schedule, as the Braves tried to piece together a starting rotation that had been decimated by injuries and ineffectiveness.
On a team where 14 different pitchers started games, Anderson held firmly to his spot once he got a chance. His final regular-season resume: 3-2 record, 1.95 ERA, .172 opponents’ batting average, 41 strikeouts (14 walks) in 32-1/3 innings.
According to MLBTradeRumors.com, when Anderson was promoted to the big league team in August:
Anderson, 22, was the No. 3 overall draft pick in 2016 and has steadily ranked among the game’s 50 or so best prospects over the past three years. He spent the 2019 season with the Braves’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates, pitching to a combined 3.38 ERA with 11.4 K/9, 4.3 BB/9 and a 44 percent grounder rate. Like so many pitchers, Anderson was blown up in the explosive offensive setting in Triple-A last year, surrendering five homers in 24 2/3 frames. However, he only yielded eight big flies in 111 innings of Double-A work.
Scouting reports on Anderson peg him as more of a mid-rotation starter than a frontline ace. His fastball climbs to 96 mph, and Anderson garners praise for a plus curveball and a changeup that’s a bit behind that offering, though all three are considered above-average pitches.
In the last 16 games of the regular season, Castillo was largely an immovable object for opposing hitters. Over that stretch when the Reds won five straight series, Castillo had a 2.03 ERA in 27.2 innings. Opponents batted only .163 against him and got on base only 22 percent of the time. Reds fans have to hope that caliber of performance continues today.
When you’re in a win-or-go-home situation, everybody is available. (Well, probably not Trevor Bauer.) The only reliever who may not be available after pitching two innings Wednesday is Michael Lorenzen. We’ll see.
|LF Shogo Akiyama||CF Ronald Acuna Jr.|
|RF Nick Castellanos||1B Freddie Freeman|
|1B Joey Votto||DH Marcel Ozuna|
|3B Eugenio Suarez||C Travis d’Arnaud|
|2B Mike Moustakas||2B Ozzie Albies|
|DH Jesse Winker||LF Adam Duvall|
|CF Nick Senzel||SS Dansby Swanson|
|SS Freddy Galvis||RF Nick Markakis|
|C Tucker Barnhart||3B Austin Riley|
Additional insights into the statistical history of the players in today’s game is available all season long at BaseballSavant.com.
News and Notes
Recently, the Reds have fared better in games when opponents started righthanded pitchers than lefthanded starters. Since September 11, they are 11-2 when their opponent starts a righty pitcher, and 1-3 (after Wednesday’s loss) when the opposing team starts a lefty.