If anything can actually feel familiar in 2020, these few Reds performances we’ve seen come pretty close. The story of the 2019 season has followed a pretty close narrative to the first four games of the 2020 season (along with the added COVID plot twists, of course).
The Reds have now lost three straight games by a combined four runs, only days after pounding the Tigers by six in an outing showing what they can be capable of if all of the offseason acquisitions come together. Of course, since then, two of their better hitters (and one of those acquisitions) have come down with coronavirus, ETA undetermined. It sucks, but of course it could be a lot worse (gestures at everything involving the Marlins).
Today, the Reds continue their series with the Chicago Cubs, with Tyler Mahle making the start for an injured Anthony DeSclafani. Mahle made 25 starts for the Redlegs last season, pitching to a 5.14 ERA in 129.2 innings (4.66 FIP). He did have nine strikeouts per nine innings, but gave up a 1.7 HR/9. He was slated to be more of a piggyback starter for the Pandemic-Abbreviated 2020 season, but was next in line when DeSclafani had to be put on the injured list.
Mahle has been “next in line” for a minute now, of course. It was slated to be a big season for him to prove he truly belonged in a Major League rotation, and this will be his first test.
Alec Mills is an injury replacement for Jose Quintana. Mills made four starts for the Cubs in 2019, the first two coming in late July while the final two came at the end of the season. In 10.1 innings in July, Mills gave up five earned runs with 11 K, two walks and four HBP. Conversely, in his final two starts in September (both against the Cards), Mills pitched 9.2 innings and gave up only a single run, striking out 15 and walking four. Sandwiched in the middle were five games in relief, where he pitched 16 innings of 2.81 ERA ball (including two outings against the Cincinnati Reds, where he pitched six innings and struck out six Reds, allowing only a run).