The Reds have won 11 of their last 14 games, have knocked like 12 grand slams in the meantime and half of those have come from pitchers because everyone is playing well right now.
Yes, the Redlegs are hot. As of today, their last 11 games have been played against either division leaders or, in the case of the Cubs, de facto division leaders (they’re a half game back of the Brewers, and obviously would be in first place if it weren’t for those pesky Reds). They’ve won all but three of those games.
On paper, the Fourth of July home series should be a bit of an easier test for the Reds as they welcome in 29-54 Chicago White Sox. The Sox were swept by Detroit and Cleveland in back-to-back series a couple weeks ago, but have sense traded wins with the Athletics, Rangers, and Twins. They’re 5-5 in their last 10 coming in, but did beat the Rangers last night, 10-5.
James Shields gets the start for the Southsiders. He’s been solid in his last three starts, racking up 14 K in 17.2 IP for a 2.55 ERA. On the year, Shields is doing well, or at least better than he has in recent seasons. He’s almost reached his IP mark from a season ago, and the now 36-year-old right hander’s ERA+ of 94 basically equals his 2016 number with the Padres.
He’s not the pitcher he was back with the Royals or Rays, but the White Sox, in general, don’t really need him to be, as they’ve been involved in a fairly massive tear down and rebuild over the last couple of seasons. Shields has also struggled on the road this season, with a 5.97 road ERA.
Luis Castillo will look to build off the first 3.2 IP of his last start and, you know, not the rest of the start. Castillo allowed nary a hit through almost four innings, but then the wheels came off and he was yanked a lot earlier than anyone would’ve anticipated, given the start. Anyway, if he avoids the blow up inning, we know how effective and nasty Castillo can be when he’s on.
So, you know, do that, and not the other thing, Luis.