After a brief three-day break for the Cardinals ‘Rona situation the Pirates hit the road to visit the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ballpark, where hopefully the Pirates bats roar back to life. They sure better, because the Pirates pitching situation is on life support.
I’ll focus on what’s going on with the Reds primarily as I always do in these previews, but I feel it’s important to make sure we understand the rotation and how it might play out.
News broke yesterday that Joe Musgrove was headed to the 10-day IL for inflammation in his triceps. This caught most of us by surprise because all we knew was Joe was struggling with his ankle. Regardless, the Pirates are still downplaying this as not a significant worry, but every time a pitcher has to stop throwing in a shortened season, it will create more missed games than say Josh Bell nursing a sore arm.
The Bucs announced the rotation for this series as Williams, Brault, Holland, and Kuhl. Many were alarmed that youngster JT Brubaker wasn’t part of this rotation but the Pirates have an off day following this 4-game set so they can just go back to Williams, also, Brault seems to be in the three inning area for his program while Kuhl has steadily progressed and should be able to go five soon. Either way, Brubaker and probably Ponce will have to pitch in on those two days which will keep them active.
Keone Kela returns today and expect him to pitch even if the Pirates don’t run into a save situation. Kela is a no-brainer trade chip and the Bucs can’t afford to wait to showcase him if indeed a deadline deal is going to happen.
The Reds are 8-10, good for second in the NL Central and have just started being bitten by the injury bug a bit recently. Big free agent acquisition Mike Moustakas was trying to play through a bruised leg, but the Reds finally decided to send him to the IL, Pedro Strop has joined him. Wade Miley is day to day.
Nicholas Castellanos and Jesse Winker are leading the charge offensively, while Joey Votto and more so Eugeno Suarez are struggling mightily. Add them to the list of big names just not seeing the ball. Suarez in particular is batting .115 with three homeruns. That said nothing can help a struggling lineup quite like Pirates pitching. The Tigers came into town with a team batting average hovering around .200 and left up almost 40 points.
The Reds will toss Anthony DiSclafani, Sonny Gray, Trevor Bauer, and Luis Castillo. Bauer has been lights out this season and comes into this series with an 0.93 ERA, DiSclafani has no ERA as we speak, Gray has 3 wins and an ERA in the 2’s, and Castillo has struggled while sprinkling in effective outings. The Reds Starting pitching is at least on paper, pretty good. The Bullpen leaves something to be desired but you have to get to them early to expose it. Something the strikeout prone Pirates have struggled to do.
If nothing else, the ballpark can create an equalizing factor as pitching tends to struggle no matter what uniform they wear.