Tonight at 7:10 PM, the Cincinnati Reds (14-15) will look to win their first Ohio Cup title since 2014 when they travel north up I-71 for three games against the Cleveland Indians (17-13) this weekend. The Reds are just 23-37 all-time in Cleveland.
The Indians come in hot as they’ve won 5 straight games and 9 of their last 11. The Indians have been a two man show offensively: Jose Ramirez (156 wRC+) and Franmil Reyes (164 wRC+). They do not have another regular above average hitter in their lineup.
The Reds are very fortune that they won’t see Shane Bieber this weekend. The Reds will want to get to the Indians SP early. James Karinchak and Emmanuel Clase have allowed just 1 earned run in 29.1 innings this season. Karinchak has an unbelievable 30 strikeouts in 15.0 innings this season, and has only walked 3 batters. Fortunately for the Reds, Karinchak has pitched each of the last two days, and 4 of the last 5 (he has thrown 76 pitches this week). He has yet to pitch in 3 straight games this season, so there is a good chance he is unavailable tonight.
Wade Miley‘s only mediocre start of the season came against the Indians on 4/18: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 2 HR, 1 BB, 5 K. Miley has only allowed 3 home runs all season, but two of them came in that game to Jose Ramirez and Eddie Rosario. Miley has a career 4.95 ERA in 8 starts against the Indians (6.75 ERA in 2 starts at Progressive Field).
Zach Plesac is certainly happy that Joey Votto is not in the lineup. Votto has 2 bombs in 4 at-bats against Plesac. The numbers this season for Plesac might not look very good, but 12 of the 17 ER he allowed came in two starts. He has only allowed 5 ER in the other 4 starts this season. Plesac was dominant in 8 starts in 2020 with a 2.28 ERA/3.39 FIP, but got demoted at one point due to blatantly disregarding the Covid protocols. He has a career 5.11 ERA in 2 starts against the Reds. Here is a video of Castellanos homering off Pleasc last season for your viewing pleasure.
|1. Nick Senzel (2B)
2. Jesse Winker (DH)
3. Nick Castellanos (RF)
4. Mike Moustakas (1B)
5. Eugenio Suárez (3B)
6. Tyler Naquin (CF)
7. Tucker Barnhart (C)
8. Kyle Farmer (SS)
9. Shogo Akiyama (LF)
|1. Cesar Hernandez (2B)
2. Jordan Luplow (RF)
3. Jose Ramirez (3B)
4. Franmil Reyes (DH)
5. Eddie Rosario (LF)
6. Harold Ramirez (CF)
7. Josh Naylor (1B)
8. Amed Rosario (SS)
9. Austin Hedges (C)
The Reds have really mixed up their lineup with Votto out. Shogo Akiyama was activated and will make his 2021 debut batting 9th. It appears the Eugenio Suárez at SS experiment has either been ended or put on pause. Suarez has -10 outs above average this season, which is 4 more than any another player at any position. Votto being out might have been a good excuse to end the experiment. It looks like Nick Senzel is going to be playing 2B more regularly (at least vs RHP). You have to wonder what this means for Jonathan India. It seems possible that he could be sent down after the weekend when the Reds no longer have a DH/extra bat in the lineup.
Tyler Naquin will play in his first career game at Progressive Field as a visitor. Naquin played 325 career games with the Indians.
Reds pitchers obviously need to look out for Jose Ramirez and Franmil Reyes as mentioned above, but one guy specifically for Wade Miley to watch tonight is Jordan Luplow. He has a career .967 OPS in 317 PA vs LHP.
One interesting note: Josh Naylor is playing first-base for only the third time since he made that famous “Buckner” style error in Cincinnati a couple of weeks ago. The last time that he played 1B was on 4/26.
Reds bullpen watch
Today begins the brutal stretch of 17 straight days of baseball for the Cincinnati Reds, who will also play in 30 of the next 31 days. The most obvious concern with that is how the Reds bullpen will hold up. They will at least start well rested as you can see below with the usage chart.
News and Notes
The Reds defense could look different on a daily basis
Prior to the game tonight manager David Bell spoke with the media and explained that there could be a lot of movement while Joey Votto is out when it comes to who is playing what defensive position. Mike Moustakas also spoke about how versatile the team was and how that really helps make things easier.
Nick Lodolo struck out 10 in his Double-A debut
The Cincinnati Reds starting pitching on the farm has been incredible so far this season. Doug Gray noted that in the 11 starts this year for the Reds minor league starting pitchers the group has posted a 1.40 ERA in 45.0 innings with just 26 hits allowed and with 57 strikeouts. Nick Lodolo played a big role in that on Thursday night in his Double-A debut as he struck out 10 batters without a walk over 5.0 shutout innings. Lodolo has not walked a batter in his professional career and now has a 40-to-0 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Redleg Nation Radio #374: Naughty by Nature
If you missed it, be sure to check out this week’s episode of Redleg Nation Radio where Chad Dotson and Chris Garber discuss the Joey Votto injury, the ridiculousness of Amir Garrett’s suspension, Hunter Greene’s Double-A debut and more.
The Reds have not had a .500 record in the month of May, since May 16, 2017. Today is the day that changes. Go Reds!