The first place Cincinnati Reds (2-1) will kick off a 3-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates (1-2) tonight at 6:40 PM. The Reds are coming off arguably one of the most thrilling opening season series in team history. The Reds absolutely demolished Cardinal pitching, scoring 27 runs in three games. For comparison, the Reds scored a whopping 25 runs in their first NINE games against the Cardinals in 2020. The Reds will try to keep their smoking hot offense going agains the Pittsburgh Pirates, the team currently projected to have the worst record in all of baseball this season.

If you think the Reds are cheap, let me introduce you to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates have the lowest payroll in the National League, coming in at $53.4 million. That is $61.2 million lower than the Reds, despite Pittsburgh ranking 24th in TV market size, compared to Cincinnati at 37th. The Pirates will surely look to cut even more payroll closer to the trade deadline.

The only reason to even watch the Pirates this season just landed on the IL. The #9 prospect in baseball, Ke’Bryan Hayes was placed on the IL over the weekend with a wrist injury. Hayes had a 1.124 OPS in 24 games last season for Pittsburgh. Former Red, Todd Frazier was surprisingly not called up to replace the Pirates 3B, despite currently being active at the Pirates alternate site. The Pirates do not have a hitter projected with an OPS greater than .750 with Hayes out. The Reds have four well above .800 for comparison (Winker, Suarez, Moustakas, Castellanos).

It’s never too early to talk playoff odds, right? The Reds took a massive leap over the weekend. Their odds of reaching the postseason on Saturday morning were at 19.1%, but after two wins they have jumped all the way up to 34.4%. Subsequently, the Cardinals odds fell from 31.0% down to 18.4%. There are still 159 games to play in a very long season where a lot can happen, but this goes to show just how tight this division race is and how crucial each division game can be in terms of swinging the division.

Starting Pitchers


José De León will make his first MLB start since 2016. He is a pitcher with immense talent who has not been able to throw enough strikes in his limited MLB opportunities. He was ranked as high as #23 overall in the MLB in pre-2016 according to Baseball America, but injuries derailed his career. De León had Tommy John Surgery in 2017. Doug Gray wrote a great write up/scouting report on De León over on his site. De León got hit pretty hard this spring: 16.2 IP, 18 H, 16 ER, 3 HR, 7 BB, 2 HBP, 16 K.

JT Brubaker made his MLB debut for the Pirates last season, and he had a pretty solid freshman campaign as a 26-year old rookie. He was only the Pirates #25 rated prospect according to Fangraphs entering 2020. Brubaker made one start against the Reds, and it was a good one: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 K. The start was actually the final game of that famous four-game sweep of the Pirates during the Reds late season surge. Unfortunately for Brubaker, he was paired up against Luis Castillo, who shutout the Pirates over 7 innings (3 hits, 10 K). Fansided has a nice scouting report on Brubaker.

Starting Lineups

Jesse Winker remains out of the Reds lineup, but the structure of the lineup remains the same. It is a nice luxury to have Tyler Naquin and his .782 career OPS against RHP as a fill in outfielder. Tucker Barnhart has now started 3 of 4 games at catcher. The Reds most likely will not see their first left-handed starting pitcher until Friday night against Caleb Smith of the Diamondbacks (it has not officially been announced yet, but he lines up). Tyler Stephenson figures to get all of the catching duties against LHP.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Cincinnati Reds

Adam Frazier – 2B Tyler Naquin – LF
Phillip Evans – 3B Nick Castellanos – RF
Bryan Reynolds – LF Joey Votto – 1B
Colin Moran – 1B Eugenio Suárez – SS
Erik González – SS Mike Moustakas – 3B
Gregory Polanco – RF Nick Senzel – CF
Jacob Stallings – C Jonathan India – 2B
Dustin Fowler – CF Tucker Barnhart – C
JT Brubaker – SP José De León – SP

News and Notes 

Nick Castellanos suspended for two games

In an absurd decision that makes absolutely no sense to anyone who is not employed by the St. Louis Cardinals or a fan of that franchise, Nick Castellanos was suspended for “aggressive actions” on Saturday. He’s facing a 2-game suspension, but he has chosen to appeal the suspension. That means he’s in the lineup until the outcome of his hearing. No other player was suspended, though several others were fined for their roles.

Jesse Winker should return soon

Missing from the lineup for a few days, Jesse Winker isn’t expected to be out much longer. He had flu-like symptoms according to manager David Bell, but Bell also noted that this was not COVID related.

Hunter Greene throws 105 MPH in Goodyear

Last week saw Cincinnati’s top prospect Hunter Greene hit 105 MPH with his fastball in a start back in Goodyear where he’s continuing his spring training as he prepares for the 2021 Minor League Baseball season that begins the first week of May. Greene had recently been clocked at 104 MPH multiple times. He continues to show a different level of velocity from any other pitcher on the planet.

As expected, Nick Castellanos is an extra-base hit machine

The Cardinals unraveled at the behest of the Reds

I represented RN and joined 97.1 FM the Fan in Columbus this afternoon

Conclusion 

The Pittsburgh Pirates are tied with the Marlins for the fewest wins in MLB since the start of the 2019 season.

The Reds have just a 14-15 record against them. That includes the Reds 4-game sweep of the Pirates late in 2020.

Quite frankly, this is a team the Reds have to take care of business against. In what expects to be a tight division, who beats up on the Pirates the best could be the deciding factor. Let’s hope the Reds finally found the magic formula on September 14-16, 2020.

Go Reds.

56 Responses

  1. Bred

    Way to go, Nick. Hope your preview revives the Sept. 2020 results and a W tonight. Go Reds!

    Reply
  2. Klugo

    Well if it’s not too early to talk playoffs, then it’s not too early to talk trade deadline, right? Anyone? What are we gonna be looking for and what are we going to be willing to give up?

    Reply
    • ClevelandRedsFan

      Perhaps a #3 starter? If India keeps playing well, you can’t bench him, or Moose, or Suarez.

      Reply
  3. Sliotar

    2 HRs in the top of the first at GABP?

    It’s like Disco never left.

    Maximum time left for the comeback.

    Reply
    • JB

      2 off speed pitches. Might want to locate those a little better than in the middle of the plate.

      Reply
  4. VaRedsFan

    No hits to show for it, but Naquin put a charge into both of his batted balls.
    104 and 98 mph.

    Reply
  5. VaRedsFan

    Suarez….my goodness man…I’m not expecting every great play to be made, but at least make the routine catch of a throw. That had nothing to do with re-learning the position.

    Reply
  6. Preach

    I wasn’t logging on tonight. I was just going to watch the game. But this kid…

    I’m just glad I was watching

    Reply
  7. VaRedsFan

    Nice pitching by DeLeon to K the side with 2 on and no outs

    Reply
  8. MBS

    De Leon stepped up huge. Struck out the 2, 3, and 4 after the double play fell apart.

    Reply
  9. LDS

    So the Reds treat the Cards like they’re throwing batting practice but can’t get anything going (so far) against the consensus “weakest team in the league”?

    Reply
    • Optimist

      Liking the pitch count differential. “Getting to the Bucs pen” has a 100 loss season sound to it.

      Reply
  10. JB

    Some really nice at bats tonight by the good guys. Down in the counts and coming back and drawing walks.

    Reply
  11. Preach

    De Leon is pitching his heart out. Another great inning

    Reply
  12. Sliotar

    One more run… and there is whole bunch of pitches available from Garrett and Sims.

    Good night to get them some action.

    Reply
  13. Nate

    Cionel Perez is fun to watch out of the bullpen and nice throw by Tucker to end the inning

    Reply
  14. Preach

    Both staffs are dealing. Wearing out the edges of the zone.

    Reply
  15. MBS

    LOL, Do we actually have 3 effective Lefties in the pen? Crazy!

    Reply
  16. shaggy

    castellanos is having one heck of a start to this season. If he keeps this up we will have one interesting season this year.

    Reply
  17. Frankie Tomatoes

    Came in from the garage just to type this: NICK BLASTELLANOS.

    Reply
  18. VaRedsFan

    Votto last two ABs…. hard hit balls 102 and 98.
    At this point in the season,kKeep focusing on process…not results

    Reply
    • LDS

      Still, needs to hit lower. Maybe drop Castellenos to 3rd and drop India in at 2nd slot. Votto just isn’t as reliable as he once was.

      Reply
      • Grand Salami

        Yes, he’s the one guy in the lineup that looks out of place. Winker should be getting reps at first for when Shogo gets back.

    • Yerisdad

      You’re exactly right. He’s hitting the ball hard. Not bad considering he missed a lot of time to covid. Hopefully it means good things are to come!

      Reply
  19. Grand Salami

    Sims cruises even with some mild control issues.

    Reply
  20. Grand Salami

    Moose has found has timing (Brantley agrees). It’s nice to see the offense seeking insurance run in a close game. Seems like the Reds would go quietly to get to the 9th as quick as possible

    Reply
    • DaveCT

      He did not look comfortable until much later last year.

      Reply
  21. MBS

    I’d bring Garrett in even if we blow it open. 4th game 5th day and no work for the big guy.

    Reply
  22. Grand Salami

    Love Tucker and the homer in game two was huge at the time. But 3/4 or 4/5 in favor of Barnhart to Stephenson is just not a good split.

    Reply
    • Grand Salami

      Amir came out shaky. Reminds me of his introduction to closer. He had a surprising amount of nerves.

      Here’s hoping he settles down.

      Reply
    • Corky Miller

      C’mon man!!! Tucker is still way more valuable on defense alone. The blocks and “framing” he showed tonight is exactly why he has multiple GGs. The pitchers trust him.
      Pitching coach gets a lot of credit, but so should Tucker.

      His offense is gravy on the biscuit. They have plenty of offense now.

      You want Stephenson handling Garrett in that ninth inning? I say no way.

      Reply
      • Datdudejs

        The pitchers would still pitch well with Stephenson behind the plate. Cather defense is the most over-rated aspect of baseball by far. Give me offense at that position every time

  23. Hanawi

    Lots of manufactured runs so far in the few games. Very promising start. Hopefully the weirdness of last year was a blip for Moose and India can provide more than Galvis.

    Reply
  24. Sliotar

    Good grief.

    Pirates really are a thorn in the Reds’ side.

    Tying run at the plate, no outs.

    Reply
  25. Mark Moore

    OK, settle down boys. Let’s finish this one right here, right now.

    Reply
  26. Grand Salami

    Amir doesn’t look quite as sharp. Throwing juicy pitches and pitches that aren’t close in this outing. Didn’t do either in spring training. He’s made it hard on himself here.

    Reply
  27. VaRedsFan

    Who else was holding their breath when it was hit to Geno?

    Reply
  28. Mark Moore

    More drama than required … but got to love the end result.

    Reply
  29. MBS

    I knew it Castillo and Garrett, our 2 worst pitchers, look at their era. LOL good win Redlegs!

    Reply

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