Reds schedule: Pitching will be front and center in battle for the Ohio Cup

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 14: Sonny Gray #54 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 14: Sonny Gray #54 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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Cincinnati Reds
CINCINNATI, OH – JULY 29: Sonny Gray #54 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Previewing the pitching matchups: Reds vs Indians

Cincinnati’s ace Sonny Gray (2-0 0.71 ERA) will take the mound in the opener Monday night at GABP opposing fellow right-hander Zach Pleasac (0-0 0.00 ERA) of Cleveland. To say Gray has been awesome to start the 2020 campaign would be a gross understatement. The Reds right-hander is not only becoming a leader among staff but in the clubhouse as well.

During Sonny Gray’s last start against the Chicago Cubs, he took his game directly to the North Siders and wasn’t afraid to let Cubs captain Anthony Rizzo know that the Cincinnati Reds were not backing down.

The Vanderbilt alum has the numbers to back up his banter with opponents on the field. Dating back to last year, in his previous seven starts, Gray’s allowed just 22 hits in 43.1 innings while fanning 55 hitters.

In his last three starts against the Indians, Sonny Gray’s tossed 18 innings and allowed just 4 runs on 10 hits while collecting 18 strikeouts. The Reds will need that type of performance in the opener because Cleveland’s Zach Pleasac was nearly unhittable in his first 2020 start.

Going eight shutout innings against the Chicago White Sox, the 25-year-old allowed just three hits and punched out 11 batters. Pleasac has made one start versus Cincinnati in his young career, tossing 5.1 innings he allowed four runs on five hits and was saddled with the loss in a Reds 7-2 victory.

The Reds will need an extraordinary effort from Tyler Mahle (0-0 4.50 ERA) as he faces arguably the best pitcher in baseball right now, Cleveland right-hander Shane Bieber (2-0 0.00 ERA). Mahle will be taking the rotation of spot of lefty Wade Miley while he’s on the IL with a strained left groin.  In his first, Mahle filled in for Anthony DeSclafani and lasted just four innings against the Cubs.

Mahle had to pitch around trouble often in his 2020 debut as he surrendered six hits and one walk over those four frames though allowing just two runs. His two previous starts against Cleveland have not gone well and that’s being kind.

The 25-year-old California native has been rocked for 12 hits and eight earned runs in only 6.1 innings of work. Needless to say, if he has a similar start Tuesday, it will be nearly impossible for the Cincinnati Reds to come away with a victory.

That’s because Bieber is simply playing another game than anyone else right now. The 25-year-old hurler has yet to allow a run this season covering 14 innings and has fanned a mind-boggling 27 hitters while only giving up one free pass. In two starts against the Reds lifetime, he’s 1-0 and has allowed five runs on 11 hits in 12.1 frames for a 3.65 ERA.