Four in a row.
Five of six.
Six of eight.
Those are the kinds of winning spurts good baseball teams routinely have on their schedule. The thing about these 2020 Cincinnati Reds, of course, is that while we all read on-paper all winter that they were supposed to be capable of running off such stretches, we’d both never seen them do so together in previous years, and we never saw them put such runs together through the season’s first month and a half, either.
That’s why they were buried in the standings. That’s why we were so down on them. Until you see a group of players cobble together their skills and start winning, it’s hard to truly believe they ever will.
Whether it’s a product of a beleaguered Cardinals club and a league-worst Pirates club remains to be seen. The Reds will wrap their 2020 slate with a trio of series against clubs already in postseason spots or right there with the Reds fighting for one, and that’s certainly not where the Pirates are right now. Still, that makes picking up another win in tonight’s series finale all the more important as the schedule shrinks and the White Sox, Brewers, and Twins all loom.
Perhaps there’s no better arm to turn to today than Luis Castillo, then, as the uber-talented Reds righty is fresh off his best outing of the year. On Friday, he picked the Reds up after the sting of their series loss to the Cubs, firing a complete game to lead the Reds to a series-opening 3-1 win over St. Louis.
After sputtering a bit to begin his 2020 campaign, Castillo has been largely rock solid of late, owning a 2.80 ERA and .662 OPS against over his last 6 starts (35.1 IP). That includes a solid outing against these Pirates from back on September 4th, when he fired 6 innings of 2 ER ball to lead the Reds to victory that day.
Countering Castillo will be Pirates starter JT Brubaker, a rookie who’ll be appearing in his 9th career big league game. He’s a Springfield, Ohio native and product of the University of Akron, one whose fastball sits 93-95 and who relies heavily on a fastball/slider combo. He began the season in impressive fashion in limited innings, but as he’s been asked to go deeper into games of late his numbers have taken a hit, including in his most recent outing when the White Sox tagged him for 7 ER in 5.1 IP. So while his overall 5.34 ERA isn’t exactly intimidating, keep in mind that was at just 3.96 before the club with the second-best record in baseball came knocking.
First pitch tonight is again set for 6:40 PM ET at GABP. And with an off-day tomorrow, I’d wager the bulk of the bullpen will be available should the Reds need it.
Shogo Akiyama is 11-for-29 (.379) with a .514 OBP over his last nine games! He leads off as the Reds look for the four-game sweep of Pittsburgh!— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) September 16, 2020
Reds lineup presented by @PNCBank pic.twitter.com/z56DUdIQUA