As the Reds head into the All Star Break, they find their bullpen taxed, their bats injured, and their starting rotation uncharacteristically incapable of going deep into games. Of course, they also find themselves. 1.5 games out of first place; the closest they've been since April. Today, the Reds will look to end the ceremonial first half of the season with a series win over Andrew McCutchen and his Pittsburgh Pirates.
And it is certainly right to add McCutchen's name to the marquee of his team given his performance this season against the Reds. The 2013 MVP has yet to relent upon the Reds this year. In 12 games, the Dread(lock) Pirate is hitting .426 with 6 home runs. Six. His OPS against Cincinnati is 1.433; which is borderline inhuman given the sample size of 56 at bats. If there is a silver lining, its that he only has 8 RBI against the Reds. I'm sure this would relegate him to merely platoon status in the eyes of the Brennamen.
Luckily, the Reds have their own immovable object to match up to the Pirates' unstoppable force by the name of Johnny Cueto. While Cueto has allowed McCutchen an OPS of .979 in 58 plate appearances, that is fantastic by Reds standards. When it comes to the rest of the Pittsburgh lineup, Cueto has been Cueto. Neil Walker, Gaby Sanchez, Pedro Alvarez and Russell Martin have all been held below the Mendoza line in their career. Meanwhile, Jordy Mercer has collected 4 singles in 13 at bats, but has never walked or achieved an extra-base hit.
The Pirates will trot out Francisco Liriano to the mound for his first start sine June 10. Todd Frazier has hit 2 home runs off Liriano in 20 plate appearances while getting on base at a .454 clip. Ryan Ludwick has mirrored this success against the Pirate Lefty with a .471 OPS and 2 doubles in 18 trips. Of course, on more of a sour note, Jay Bruce is 1 for 17 lifetime against Liriano with 7 strikeouts.
Luckily, the Reds will rely on their contingent of right handed batters (sans BP) to hopefully sully Liriano's return to the big leagues. Hopefully, Johnny Cueto will pitch deep into today's game to the give the Reds' tired bullpen an early start to the All Star Break. Truthfully, I'm rooting for the Reds because they're my favorite team! Finally, here's me being a shill:
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