Cincinnati Reds host the Chicago Cubs in a division showdown

CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 19: Anthony Rizzo #44 of the Chicago Cubs confronts pitcher Amir Garrett #50 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 19: Anthony Rizzo #44 of the Chicago Cubs confronts pitcher Amir Garrett #50 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /
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Wade Miley
GOODYEAR, ARIZONA – FEBRUARY 19: Wade Miley #22 poses during Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

Previewing the pitching matchups: Reds vs Cubs

Reds left-hander Wade Miley has a hard act to follow in his debut. After the sparkling performances of Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo and Trevor Bauer, Miley, the Reds latest rotation addition, will be opposing one of the most feared lineups in the game. He’ll battle a fellow veteran Jon Lester to open the series Monday night.

Over the years, the Reds southpaw has had his way against the Cubs Javy Baez. The North Siders shortstop is just 1-for-11 lifetime versus Miley, while his teammate on the left side of the infield, Kris Bryant, has had a much easier time going 6-for-14 including a homer. Miley has enjoyed quite a bit of success against the Cubs in his nine-year career going 6-3 with a 3.92 ERA in 10 starts.

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Veteran Jon Lester will be making his season debut Monday night. The 36-year-old lefty is looking to bounce back following a subpar 2019 campaign which saw him lead the NL in hits allowed with 205 base knocks. Lester has given the Reds fits throughout the years. He’s compiled an impressive 7-2 mark in 19 career starts.

Tuesday will feature the Reds Tyler Mahle facing off against the Cubbies right-hander Alec Mills. Mahle will make at least one start in the Reds rotation while Anthony DeSclafani remains on the injured list due to what’s been described as a mild strain in his pitching arm.

In five career starts against the Cubs, Mahle has found success going 2-1 with a 3.64 ERA while allowing just 23 hits in 29.2 innings. What’s even more impressive is that in three of his five starts versus Chicago, Mahle has pitched at least six innings while allowing one run or fewer. The Reds could use another of those outings Tuesday night.

Alec Mills will be making his third career start against the Reds. Even though he has yet to earn a decision in either start, Mills has been relatively effective versus the Cincinnati lineup by allowing just nine hits while fanning 14 Redlegs in 11.2 innings.

Expect to see a ton of goose eggs on the GABP scoreboard Wednesday night as Sonny Gray (1-0 1.50 ERA) squares off against Kyle Hendricks (1-0 0.00 ERA). You won’t find a better early season pitching matchup across the majors than this one. Get your popcorn ready.

Gray has been especially effective versus the Cubs in six career starts. Tossing 35 innings, he’s surrendered just 22 hits while striking out 39 Cubbies. The Reds right-hander also haunts the sleep of Cubs right-fielder Jason Heyward who is just 1-for-16 lifetime with five punch-outs against the Nashville native.

As good as Gray was on Opening Day, the Cubs Kyle Hendricks was even better. Hendricks went the distance, shutting out the Brewers on just three hits and collecting nine strikeouts. However, there’s been one Red who has given the Cubs right-hander trouble. Of course, it’s Joey Votto. The Reds legend is slashing .393/.575/.821 with three homers in 40 plate appearances against the Cubs ace.

Thursday is La Piedra Day in the Queen City as Luis Castillo (0-0 1.50 ERA) closes the four game set against Cubs right-hander Yu Darvish (0-1 6.75 ERA). In his season debut, Castillo picked up right where he left off during the 2019 campaign. The Reds right-hander allowed one run while fanning 11 Tigers in just six innings of work.

Castillo has absolutely owned Cubs’ stars Javy Baez and Anthony Rizzo over his career. The two North Siders are a combined 8-for-43 versus La Piedra while fanning nine times between the two of them.

Darvish struggled in his season debut at home against the Brewers. Going just four innings, he allowed six hits and three runs in an 8-3 loss. When Darvish is effective, he racks up the strikeouts by the ton. Tossing 50 innings lifetime versus the Reds, he’s whiffed an impressive 65 batters.

Don’t be surprised to see David Bell insert Aristides Aquino into the lineup for both Wednesday and Thursday nights contests. The Punisher has taken Kyle Hendricks and Yu Darvish deep four times in just seven at-bats.