Series Quick Look
Monday, April 10, Reds 7, Pirates 1
Tuesday, April 11, Reds 6, Pirates 2
Wednesday, April 12, 7:05PM
at PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
The Pirates and Reds have been playing baseball against each other for quite some time, going all the way back to 1882 when it was the Alleghenys versus the Red Stockings. They didn’t play each other at all from 1887 to 1889, but started back up in 1890 and haven’t missed a year since. That’s 127 consecutive years. Death, taxes and Pirates vs Reds every year. The Pirates are ahead in their all-time series, but not recently. Since 2013 when the Pirates franchise began turning things around, they’ve gone 36-40 against a team they finished better than in the division each year. These are the divisional games the Pirates need to clean up on to compete in the National League.
ALL-TIME RECORD: Pirates lead 1,178-1,165
Last matchup…Sept. 16-18, 2016, Pirates defeated Reds 3-out-of-4 in Cincinnati.
About the Reds:
This isn’t your usual baseball team from Cincinnati you’re used to seeing in recent years. The Reds are currently in a major rebuild that has seen them ship guys like Todd Frazier, Brandon Phillips, Mike Leake, Johnny Cueto, Aroldis Chapman and Jay Bruce out of town leaving them with a young team. Premier first baseman Joey Votto is still there along with Billy Hamilton and Zack Cozart, but you won’t recognize many other names. The Reds went 68-94 in year two of the rebuild in ’16 and their second straight last place finish in the NL Central.
In fact, the Bucs will be facing two rookie starting pitchers this series with both of them making just their second career ML start. And the third pitcher that isn’t a rookie, turns 24 this Friday. It’s an incredibly young pitching staff. Despite the rebuild, the Reds come into this series with a 4-2 record after winning a series against the Phillies and Cardinals to start the season. This series in Pittsburgh closes out the Reds first road trip of 2017 before returning to Ohio for a 10-game homestand.
PROBABLES & NOTES:
Tyler Glasnow makes his 2017 debut Monday night in game one of the series against another youngster in Brandon Finnegan. Glasnow had an inconsistent spring, but was awarded the fifth spot in the rotation. He’ll be given the chance to take advantage of a major opportunity and can start that Monday against the Reds. Glasnow is the No. 8 prospect in the game, and if he steps us and produces, the rotation could be that much better. Pitching out of the bullpen last September, Glasnow faced the Reds three times, allowing two runs in seven innings. He’ll face Finnegan, who’s coming off a sterling debut against the Phillies last Wednesday with nine strikeouts in 7.0 scoreless innings for the win. Finnegan was acquired from the Royals in the Cueto deal at the 2015 deadline in July. The former first round pick is ultra talented and in his first full season last year, he posted a 3.98 ERA but 5.19 FIP in 31 starts for the Reds. In two career starts at PNC Park, Finnegan has allowed just one run in 11 innings with two wins.
Jameson Taillon makes his second start of the season after a brilliant debut last Wednesday in 7.0 shutout innings against the Red Sox. It’ll be his third career start against the Reds and has a 3.27 ERA against Cincy from last year. Taillon will actually face a rookie pitcher with the fitting first name of Rookie. Yes, that’s Rookie Davis who will make his second career ML start against the Bucs on Tuesday night. Davis’ first start didn’t go so well as he allowed four runs in just 3.0 innings of work. Davis was drafted in the 14th round by the Yankees in 2011 and was part of the Chapman deal that brought him to Cincinnati. Davis is a big man at 6’5, 255 pounds and features a mid-90’s fastball with a sharp-breaking curveball. Last season at Double-A, he posted a 2.94 ERA in 19 starts despite only striking out 5.5 per nine innings. Davis only appeared in five games at the Triple-A level and was hit around, giving up 38 hits and 20 earned runs in just 24 innings.
Like Taillon, Ivan Nova put up zeros in his 2017 debut during the Pirates home opener with four strikeouts and no walks in 6.0 innings of work for the win. Nova looks to continue his dominant stretch since joining the Bucs last August. This will be Nova’s sixth career start versus the Reds and he’s fared well against them (3.82 ERA) including his Pirates debut on Aug. 6, 2016 when he went 7.0 strong innings with three runs allowed. Adding in his start on Friday, Nova has now issued just three walks in 70.2 innings since being dealt to Pittsburgh. Nova will pitch opposite of LHP Amir Garrett, who like Rookie Davis, will be making his second ML start. Unlike Davis, Garrett dominated his debut by blanking the Cardinals for 6.0 innings with four strikeouts and just two hits allowed. Garrett is a homegrown product after the Reds drafted him in the 22nd round in 2011. He worked his way through the levels at the minors and flashed an 8.2 K/9 with just 6.2 H/9 between Double and Triple-A last year. Command could be an issue with a career 3.7 BB/9 in the minor leagues, but the Reds are banking a lot of this talented southpaw.
TV (Monday): ROOT Sports Pittsburgh & Fox Sports Ohio (FS-O).
TV (Tuesday): ROOT Sports Pittsburgh & Fox Sports Ohio (FS-O).
TV (Wednesday): Fox Sports Ohio (FS-O).
Radio (All games): KDKA-FM 93.7
ON THE SHELF:
Jung Ho Kang (3B): Restricted List (March 11)—Work visa denied.
Homer Bailey (P): 60-day DL (March 30)—Recovering from right elbow surgery.
Austin Brice (P): 10-day DL (April 7)—Right ulnar neuritis.
Anthony DeSclafani (P): 60-day DL (April 5)—UCL sprain in right elbow.
Devin Mesoraco (P): 10-day DL (April 6)—Recovering from right hip surgery.
Nefi Ogando (P): 10-day DL (April 6)—Right thumb inflammation.
Nick Travieso (P): 60-day DL (April 2)—Right shoulder inflammation.
Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton is a career .297 on-base percentage hitter, but not when he faces the Pirates. When he’s on the field against the Pirates, Hamilton morphs into a 6 WAR player. In 44 career games against the Bucs, Hamilton hit .319/.368/.380 with 38 stolen bases. That’s the most stolen bases against any opponent for him. He’s posted three straight seasons of at least 56 steals and already has two SBs in five games this season. Hamilton is also a superb defender in CF, recording a positive 15 Defensive Runs Saved in 2016.
With two lefties (Finnegan and Garrett) on the mound this series for the Reds, expect to see a lot of David Freese in the Pirates lineup. Freese has been solid overall in his time in Pittsburgh, but he’s ripped lefties throughout his career to the tune of an .847 OPS and a 135 wRC+.
NO POWER OUTAGE
Despite rebuilding their team overall, the Reds do not lack the power to hit the ball out of the park. In their first six games in ’17, the Reds have belted eight home runs, including two from Joey Votto, Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler. Hell, even Scooter Gennett, who’s 1-for-11 on the season, hit a home run for his lone hit so far. To compare, the Bucs have three home runs through five games.
HOT START FOR FRAZIER
Adam Frazier picked up right where he left off from a solid spring training, hitting .353/.450/.412 through five games to this season. In 20 plate appearances, he’s walked twice compared to just one strikeout. and led off the bottom of the 10th on Sunday with a double that set up Starling Marte‘s walkoff blast. The 25-year-old utility player is proving with each game that he can hit and should be somewhere in the lineup.
The Pirates head back to the road after Wednesday’s game, but with a quick detour to Boston to make up last Thursday’s rain out. After Boston, the Bucs will travel to Chicago and St. Louis for three games each against the Cubs and Cardinals.