I mentioned in the preview of yesterday’s series opener between the Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers that the Dodgers entered play with the highest scoring offense in the National League and the lowest starting pitching ERA in all of baseball (outside the opener-fueled Tampa Bay Rays).
A 6-0 victory over the Reds that featured 4 separate dingers later, and they certainly appear as-advertised.
Saturday will be a change of pace for the Reds, as they’ll go from facing veteran lefty Rich Hill and his sweeping breaking ball to fireballing 24 year old phenom Walker Buehler. Of the 105 MLB starting pitchers who’ve tossed at least 40 IP so far this year, Buehler’s average fastball velocity of 96.6 mph sits an imposing 5th, and his 68.6% fastball usage rate dwarfs that of his peers on that list. Of course, velocity isn’t everything these days, and he has surrendered 4 dingers already this year, his H/9 is up from last season, and his K/9 is down from his 3rd place Rookie of the Year Award season of 2018. So, perhaps the Reds bats can get to him.
Cincinnati will counter with their own tantalizing 24 year old righty in Tyler Mahle, who checked in as the #90 prospect in the game by Baseball America prior to the 2018 season when Buehler earned the #13 overall ranking. But while Buehler has taken a slight step back from his brilliant rookie season, Mahle has leapt forward, his excellent 5.44 K/BB and 3.56 FIP significantly improved from his rookie season. Of course, he’s been bitten by the long ball somewhat regularly again this year, with 7 surrendered in his 45.1 IP, and keeping the ball in the ballpark today will be paramount in keeping the Reds in contention to win this series.
Finally, the Reds sent lefty Cody Reed right back to AAA Louisville, ending his one-day stint with the club this time around. Phil Ervin was recalled in his place to deepen the bench for the time being.
It’s an afternoon affair, with first pitch set for 4:10 PM ET. Go Reds.