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Pirates at Reds, Game 4 - Preview and Lineups

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FOR THE WIN!

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Cincinnati Reds David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Last night was fun, huh?

Derek Dietrich blasted three home runs against the team that gets really upset when he hits home runs against them, while Lucas Sims got his first start of the year and absolutely dazzled through, basically, eight innings (the last one notwithstanding in a 10-0 game).

Almost as good as that, the rest of the NL Central lost to very good teams last night. The Cubs lost 9-6 in Houston, the Brewers lost 5-3 in Minnesota, and the Cardinals lost 4-3 in Philadelphia. The Reds win over the Pirates, and those final scores, put the Reds five games back of the division lead, 4.5 back of second and, maybe most importantly, exactly one game back of third place in the division.

Yes, you’ve read that right. Should the Reds win today, they’ll be no worse than fourth in the division, and should the Cardinals lose again to the Phillies today, in a three-way tie for 3rd place.

On May 28th, that’s probably not all that significant. But it’s nice, especially when you consider that the Reds own a +20something run differential advantage over the Cardinals, and a +100something advantage over the Pirates. The team may not just be tied with them in the standings, they very well could be anywhere from “slightly” to “a lot” better than those teams on the whole.

Anthony DeSclafani will toe the rubber for the Reds today, and he’ll have to be better than his recent starts in order for the Reds to get this one done. He owns a Not Great, Bob 4.99 ERA for the year. After seemingly starting to put it together in three starts between April 19th and May 1st (0.51 ERA, 20 K, 9 H, 5 BB in 17.2 IP) against the Padres, Cardinals, and Mets, Disco’s been bad in his most recent three starts.

Shitting the bed against the Cubs and Dodgers isn’t necessarily something to hang your head about, but one of those starts came against the lowly Giants. In all, DeSclafani has allowed 12 earned runs in 11.2 innings with seven home runs in those three starts.

That’s not good. One would think that Lucas Sims’s performance last night would put DeSclafani on notice a little bit. It’s not something that’s in the conversation right now, but another couple of poor starts while Sims strikes everyone out at Louisville could start the gears turning. Maybe that’ll be the motivation it takes for Disco to ramp it up again, like we’ve seen him do it in the past.

Steven Brault will take the hill for the Pirates. He’s not been good this season, owning a 7.11 ERA for the year, walking 5.7 per 9 with a 1.737 WHIP. He’s only started two other games this year where he’s been... worse. In his last outing against the Dodgers, he did manage 5.2 innings while allowing only two earned (I think it was an Opener situation, as Brault pitched in the first inning).

That said, Steven Brault owns a 1.27 ERA in 21.1 IP against the Cincinnati Reds over eight games (only two starts). As a Reds fan, and after last night, I don’t want to feel like the Reds are going to struggle hitting here... but I do.

Anyway, with a win, the Reds will be tied with the Pirates for 4th/5th. It’s a not small game, even though it’s still only May 29th.

Reds lineup

Pirates lineup