The Cincinnati Reds (58-89) will welcome the Boston Red Sox (71-75) tonight at 6:40 PM to Great American Ballpark for the first time since 2017. The Reds are just 2-13 all-time in regular season games against the Red Sox. One of those wins came this year at Fenway Park in Boston behind a dominant start from Luis Castillo. The last time the Reds beat the Red Sox in Cincinnati was on June 13, 2008, behind seven shutout innings from Aaron Harang, and home runs from Jay Bruce and Adam Dunn off Justin Masterson.
The Red Sox have had a disappointing season by their standards. Coming into the season, the Red Sox were projected to win 86 games, which would have put them in the postseason. They have dealt with a lot of pitching injuries. To the Red Sox credit, despite being out of the race, they are 8-7 in September with a +20 run differential.
Two of the biggest struggles for both of these teams has been their bullpen. The Reds bullpen has actually improved significantly in the second half of the season. The Reds bullpen has a 3.39 ERA in the second half (3rd best in the NL). Reds relievers have pitched the 5th most innings in MLB in the 2nd half (212.2 IP) and have the 4th best fWAR in MLB (2.6). The Red Sox bullpen has been the worst in baseball in the second half. They have a 5.52 ERA (30th in MLB). They do have a 4.00 FIP and 4.24 xFIP, so they might not have been as bad as the ERA suggests, but it has been rough for the Red Sox pen of late.
Nick Lodolo has been some kind of roll. Over his last 3 starts, he has 31 strikeouts and just 1 walk (2.21 ERA/1.78 FIP). He absolutely looks the part of a future ace. He will have a good test tonight, as the Red Sox have a 113 wRC+ vs LHP this season (9th best in MLB). Lodolo has a 5.40 ERA in 3 inter-league games starts this season.
Brayan Bello was the #24 ranked prospect in all of baseball according to Baseball America in their 2022 mid-season update. Bello started this year in AA, where he dominated with a 1.69 ERA/2.85 FIP in 7 starts. He got promoted to AAA in May, and has pitched well there too with a 2.76 ERA/2.64 FIP in 10 starts. Bello has been up and down from the big leagues three times this year with some early struggles. Since he got promoted back to the big league club on August 24th, he has pitched very well. Bello has a 2.84 ERA/2.16 FIP over his last 5 starts. One of the most impressive stats with Bello is that he has not allowed a home run in 42.1 innings so far in his big league career. This will be quite the week for him to try to keep that up: tonight at GABP and then on Sunday Night Baseball against Aaron Judge.
Bello’s sinker and fastball average 96 MPH, but his changeup has been his best pitch. Hitters have a .153 expected batting average against his changeup. His hardest thrown pitch of the season was 98.7 MPH.
Tommy Pham has hit .246/.319/.384 with a 102 wRC+ hitting mostly leadoff for the Red Sox since being traded by the Reds.
News and Notes
-Graham Ashcraft will be returning to the Reds rotation soon.
Graham Ashcraft will make his next start with the Reds, likely Saturday vs. Milwaukee.
— Bobby Nightengale (@nightengalejr) September 20, 2022
–Reds #2 ranked prospect by most publications, Noelvi Marte homered today from Spain in the World Baseball Qualifier.
Three-run dinger for @Reds No. 2 prospect (MLB No. 18) Noelvi Marte ??
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) September 20, 2022
-Tommy Pham is back and is still talking about fantasy football
Red Sox OF Tommy Pham, who started the interview by saying he beat Joel Kuhnel in fantasy yesterday to improve to 2-0, says he loved his time in Cincinnati before the deadline.
“I miss the relationships I’ve built with the guys.”
“(The Reds) are close, I’ve always said that.”
— Charlie Goldsmith (@CharlieG__) September 20, 2022
Brayan Bello has yet to allow a big league home run. The Reds have not been a great home run hitting team this season, but this game will be played at Great American Ballpark. How about the Redlegs give Bello a nice welcome to GABP and the Reds get their first win against the Red Sox in Cincinnati since 2008? Go Reds!