The Cincinnati Reds (56-50) have won three consecutive series, and they will try to keep it going this week against an easier schedule than they’ve seen in some time. The Reds will host the Minnesota Twins (44-62) for two games, with the first at 7:10 PM tonight. The Reds are 34-22 in their last 56 games. They enter play 7.5 games back in the NL Central, but just 4.0 back of the Padres for the second wild card spot.
Tyler Mahle is coming off six shutout innings at Wrigley Field last week. Mahle just continues to be an above average pitcher for the Reds. The one thing to watch with him is that he is only 18.0 innings away from his career high in innings pitched of 129.2 in 2019. Mahle was only able to last 4.0 innings when he faced the Twins on the road earlier this season (5 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 8 K). Mahle has a career 3.55 ERA in 3 starts against the Twins (19 K and 7 BB in 12.2 IP). Mahle has struggled this season at GABP, as he he has a 6.09 ERA in 9 starts. He has allowed 13 home runs at home compared to 3 on the road (and he has made 3 more road starts this year).
Mahle ranked 25th among all pitchers in fWAR (3.1) since the start of 2020. He would be an ACE on many teams around baseball.
Kenta Maeda has seen a drop in velocity this season, but he has really turned his season around in July. Maeda has a 2.15 ERA in 5 starts (36 K and 6 BB in 29.1 IP). The Reds have not faced him since 2019. Maeda has a 3.54 career ERA in 3 starts against the Reds.
Tucker Barnhart will start at catcher for the 4th time in the last 5 games. Barnhart is hitting .243/.306/.324 since June 1st. The good news is that Tyler Stephenson (hitting .306/.405/.446 since June 1st) will be fresh off the bench.
Max Schrock will get his first career start in RF after his 5-hit game on Sunday. He played 16.0 innings in RF at AAA this season. It is curious why Bell chose to play Schrock over Aristides Aquino in RF (116 wRC+ and team leading 15.6 BB%) instead of at his more natural position at third base.
The Reds play on 9 of their 56 remaining games against teams above .500. That is a whopping 16% of their remaining games. The Reds will be heavy favorites in 35 of their remaining 56 games (63%): Pirates, Marlins, Cubs, Twins, Tigers and Nationals. That does not mean much if you can not capitalize, but the Reds are going to be going on the field with a significantly better roster most nights for the rest of the season. Don’t give up on the 2021 Cincinnati Reds. I think we are going to be in for a very fun final two months. Go Reds!