Reds vs Pirates: Preview, pitching matchups and prediction

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 29: Aristides Aquino #44 of the Cincinnati Reds rounds the bases after hitting a home run. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 29: Aristides Aquino #44 of the Cincinnati Reds rounds the bases after hitting a home run. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /
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Jesse Winker #33 of the Cincinnati Reds hits a home run in the fifth inning.
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – AUGUST 27: Jesse Winker #33 of the Cincinnati Reds hits a home run in the fifth inning. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Reds slugger Jesse Winker is fulfilling his promise

I have good news, Reds Country. The current version of Jesse Winker is no aberration. This is the type of production we can expect to see going forward. As has been the case for Jesse Winker throughout his time in the Cincinnati Reds organization, he’s proving his skeptics wrong.

A former first-round selection of the Reds in the 2012 MLB Draft out of Olympia High School in Orlando, Florida, scouts said Winker had a solid hit tool, but would probably be limited in the power department.

After playing 191 games at Triple-A Louisville, it seemed the scouts knew exactly what they were talking about. Winker hit just five homers in 679 at-bats while slugging an underwhelming .395 for the Louisville Bats.

However, once he arrived in Cincinnati in April of 2017, Jesse Winker’s been a completely different hitter. In four big league seasons, the left-handed hitting Winker has slugged .490 with 40 career round-trippers in just 845 at-bats. Currently, Winker leads the team in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging and is tied with Nick Castellanos for the team lead with 10 home runs.

Entering this season, we were constantly told Winker could not hit southpaws and would be platooned with the right-handed-hitting Philip Ervin. Beginning play today, Winker is slashing .292/.393/.625 with two homers in 24 at-bats against lefties and Ervin is now a member of the Seattle Mariners organization. Go ahead and doubt Jesse Winker, but do so at your own peril.

Prediction

If the Reds want us to take them seriously as contenders, this is the type of series where they need to take care of business. The Pirates are the worst team not only in the division but in the National League. The numbers show they can’t hit or pitch.

It's time we trust in Joey Votto. Next

Look for the Redlegs to take three of four this weekend from the Pirates to inch ever closer to a Wild Card spot. It’s imperative the Reds do damage this weekend because the road trip continues with visits to Wrigley Field and Busch Stadium before returning home for the final homestand of the year.