The first place Cincinnati Reds face off against the San Francisco Giants in a winner-takes-the-series this afternoon at 3:45pm ET. Tyler Mahle will face off against former Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto.

Starting Lineups

Cincinnati Reds

San Francisco Giants

Jesse Winker – LF Tommy La Stella – 3B
Nick Castellanos – RF Mike Yastrzemski – RF
Joey Votto – 1B Alex Dickerson – LF
Eugenio Suárez – SS Brandon Belt – 1B
Mike Moustakas – 3B Donovan Solano – 2B
Tyler Naquin – CF Brandon Crawford – SS
Jonathan India – 2B Austin Slater – CF
Tyler Stephenson – C Curt Casali – C
Tyler Mahle – SP Johnny Cueto – SP

Starting Pitchers

Tyler Mahle

Through his first two starts of the year, Tyler Mahle has allowed two earned runs in 9.0 innings. He’s walked six batters – not great, but of course, small sample size – and he’s struck out 15 of the 37 batters he’s faced. He’s coming off of a breakout season, though that only consisted of 47.2 innings thanks to the shortened year. Still, he took a big step forward in both his stuff and in his results and now he’s at 12 games post the 2019 season with a 3.34 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 56.2 innings pitched.

Pitch usage from 2021

4-Seam Slider Splitter
Velo 95.2 88.3 87.1
Usage 56.3% 30.7% 13.1%

Johnny Cueto

The 2020 season was not a good one for Johnny Cueto. He barely pitched in the previous two seasons, making just nine starts in 2018 and just four in 2019. Making 12 starts last season he posted a 5.40 ERA in 63.1 innings. This season through two starts he’s pitched better, allowing just four runs in 14.1 innings with 14 strikeouts. Unlike the Reds, the Giants haven’t been holding back their starting pitchers. Cueto threw 105 pitches in his first start of the year and followed that up with 118 pitches on Friday. It will be interesting to see how that plays out this afternoon.

Pitch Usage in 2021

4-Seam 2-Seam Change Slider Curveball
Velo 91.4 91.5 83.0 84.1 82.0
Usage 36.3% 8.5% 26.0% 22.4% 6.7%

When and Where

  • Game time: 3:45pm ET
  • Where: Oracle Park, San Francisco
  • Watch: Bally Sports Ohio (formerly Fox Sports Ohio),
  • Listen: 700 WLW AM (Cincinnati area)
  • Forecast: 58°, Sunny, 2% chance of rain

News and Notes

Updates on Sonny Gray’s return, José De León, and Shogo Akiyama

Prior to the game today manager David Bell noted that Sonny Gray would return to the rotation on Saturday against Cleveland, José De León would pitch out of the bullpen, and provided an update on the status of Shogo Akiyama, who could be back around the first week of May. We wrote about it in far more detail here if you want to dive on in.

MLB to experiment with moving the mound, the DH

Earlier today the Washington Post’s Jacob Bogage and Chelsea James reported this morning that Major League Baseball is going to move the mound back as an experiment in the Atlantic League this summer. There will also be a desingated hitter tied only to the starting pitcher, and once the starting pitcher is out of the game a pinch hitter or a relief pitcher must go to the plate. Over at I wrote about how both rules seem to lack any thought of consequences beyond the initial idea thrown out by someone in a meeting.

The Reds are conducting an experiment that may change the game

Travis Sawchik wrote about the Cincinnati Reds deciding to use Eugenio Suárez at shortstop this season and how it’s a move that could change the way other teams handle the position moving forward. You can read more about it over at The Score, but it gets into many of the things that have been discussed in more generic terms about defense: Balls in play are down and positioning is at an all-time best, meaning you can play lesser defenders at more positions because the defense just matters less than ever before.

Go to the plate hacking

Matthew Trueblood explored the idea that swinging at the first pitch is a big time advantage for hitters over at Baseball Prospectus this morning (subscription required to read).

Now, more than ever, you’d better step into the batter’s box ready to swing. If you don’t hit something early, you’re unlikely to hit anything at all.

It is an interesting read if you are into that sort of breaking down of plate appearances and how pitchers tend to attack hitters.

NL Central Standings

Playoff odds via Fangraphs

Team W L GB Playoff %
Reds 7 4 0 38.4%
Brewers 6 5 1.0 49.5%
Cardinals 6 5 1.0 22.4%
Cubs 5 6 2.0 12.2%
Pirates 4 7 3.0 0.1%

34 Responses

  1. Indy Red Man

    Glad to see Naquin back in there! After all my Votto bashing for the last 2-3 years I just traded him for Max Fried in fbb))) Seriously Joey has been hitting ropes this year!

    Lets Go!! A 2-4 road trip and having to stew on it on an off day? No thank you!

    • Redsfan4life

      Fried just went on the IL.
      Looks like Perez or Bedrosian will be off the roster Saturday.

    • Chris Holbert

      Hope we are not looking at a platoon in CF. No one gets into a rhythm, especially a young player, doing that…

  2. Redsfan4life

    Maybe Bell should use Garrett as a opener today. The Giants have 5 left handed hitters in the lineup. Bring in Mahle in the third. Have Sims pitch the 9th .
    The Reds I don’t believe have ever used a opener.

  3. Doug Gray

    1st pitch swinging for Jesse Winker. Clearly Jesse read the news and notes section today.

  4. VaRedsFan

    I’m a big proponent of ambushing the 1st pitch…been saying it for years here. While running pitch counts up on the starter has it’s pluses, bashing 1st pitch strikes is far more beneficial. You can use the rest of the at bat to work the pitcher if you fail on pitch 1.

    • Roger Garrett

      I agree but it didn’t work this time.Maybe it will though.We will see.

      • Indy Red Man

        I know you Roger. If the Reds go down on 7 pitches then your dog runs and hides)))

  5. Indy Red Man

    It always seemed like common sense that if you’re trying to surprise them with a bunt then push it towards 3rd and make them make a long throw. I guess if the RH falls off to the other side or something? Or he’s really a non-athlete, but Johnny C has always been agile.

  6. Roger Garrett

    Good to be remembered and what can I say but Cueto is through 3 and is at 33 picthes.Keep hacking is not bad against him cause he won’t walk many at all.Thing is though he is no longer the same pitcher cause he nibbles more and you have to take a few just to see what the ump will give him.India’s at bat was a good example.Don’t have a dog but may look for one if we can get this win today.Go Reds.

  7. Roger Garrett

    Both teams are in a hurry.Guess both are leaving town on the early flight.

    • Indy Red Man

      Both pitchers are pounding the zone. The only thing that bugs me really is when their guy is sketchy and you swing at a borderline pitch when its 1-0, 2-0, 3-1

  8. VaRedsFan

    Cueto was always a favorite of mine. On two separate visits to DC he took time to autograph a ball for my son. Very fan friendly and a great pitcher.

  9. Indy Red Man

    Mahle does more with 94-95 mph heater then Luis with 96-97. Now Tyler doesn’t have the change, but he works inside and he works the top of the zone. It might lead to a few more cheapies at gabp, but I think Luis could take that next step if he’d quit grooving low heaters to lefties.

    • VaRedsFan

      Mahle is definitely hitting the edges today. Great command.

  10. VaRedsFan

    I’d like to see TySyeve hold the framed pitch on the edge instead of the long snatch back into the zone

  11. Indy Red Man

    Astros with Covid breakout. Will this stuff ever end?

  12. Indy Red Man

    Nice scoop by India. That could’ve been bad. You don’t want to give away a run in this game.

    • Indy Red Man

      So we give away runs anyway? Mahle grooved an 0-2 pitch then a passed ball. Its one thing to get beat, but SF has only 2 guys hitting over .200 in the lineup. Game probably over. This sucks. That passed ball cost 2 runs so far.

  13. Ted Alfred

    Stevenson is not impressing so far this year. I don’t know if he called the pitch on the O-2 double to right-center but that was a horrible pitch selection from either he or the bench. That should have been off off the plate at the knees with a fastball or curveball…but that is where he set up and Mahle hit the glove… just a terrible pitch call. Then the ridiculous passed ball that got to runner to 3rd Base ….he’s basically responsible for both runs in the 5th. Mahle is throwing the ball great.

    • Doug Gray

      That “ridiculous passed ball” was clearly a cross up. We have no idea who got the sign wrong on that one.

  14. VaRedsFan

    He should be out on replay…not sure why TySteve backed up to behind the plate

    • VaRedsFan

      I suppose to let the ball travel instead of catching it and swiping backward.

  15. AZ Red

    Can we fire Bell? Too soon? Leaving a pitcher that is struggling in too long.

  16. Roger Garrett

    The pitching barring injury will be good enough just like today.It will always be can we hit.Take a look at the Cubs lineup and you won’t believe how bad they are right now.Got to score to win.Shut out in two of the six on the road trip is not acceptable

  17. Roger Garrett

    Meant to add and got only 5 hits in those two shut out losses.Its only game 12 and it is what it is until it changes.Could be the Cubs who right now can’t hit or pitch.Long season.Go Reds