The Reds welcome the Pirates to town with the postseason in sight

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 06: Kyle Farmer #52 of the Cincinnati Reds cannot turn the second half of a double play in the eighth inning. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 06: Kyle Farmer #52 of the Cincinnati Reds cannot turn the second half of a double play in the eighth inning. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /
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Trevor Bauer #27 of the Cincinnati Reds delivers a pitch in the first inning.
PITTSBURGH, PA – SEPTEMBER 04: Trevor Bauer #27 of the Cincinnati Reds delivers a pitch in the first inning. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

Previewing the pitching matchups: Reds vs Pirates

Trevor Bauer (4-3 1.74 ERA) continues his pursuit of the Cy Young Award as he toes the rubber in the first game of today’s doubleheader. The Pirates will counter with Cody Ponce (1-1 3.46 ERA). Bauer dropped his only decision this year against the Bucs as the team’s defense let him down in agonizing fashion.

Tossing six innings, Bauer allowed just one earned run while fanning seven Pirates in a Reds 4-3 defeat at PNC Park. The 29-year-old right-hander is the National League leader in WHIP and ERA+ while placing second in ERA and fifth in strikeouts.

There’s not much more the Cincinnati Reds can ask Bauer to do. If the Reds are going to claim one of the final playoff spots they can ill afford to waste Bauer’s starts. The right-hander becomes a free agent this winter, and likely has three, maybe four, regular season starts remaining.

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Ponce, a 26-year-old rookie, will be making his second start against the Reds. The California native worked the nightcap of a September 4th doubleheader in which he tossed four innings allowing three runs on as many hits in a Pirates 4-3 victory. Both Eugenio Suárez and Mike Moustakas took Ponce deep in their initial meeting.

The nightcap of tonight’s double feature has Anthony DeSclafani (1-2 7.20 ERA) taking the mound while the Pirates will give the ball to Mitch Keller (1-1 3.52 ERA). There’s no way to spin it, Disco has been terrible over the last month. He’s not tossed more than 4.1 innings in a start since a six-inning performance against the Brewers on August 8th.

Since that outing, DeSclafani’s 12.86 ERA is the highest for all MLB starters who have thrown a minimum of 10 innings. Tossing just 14 frames over his last four starts, he’s allowed 25 hits and surrendered five home runs while walking 13 and striking out only eight hitters.

With the injuries of fellow starter Wade Miley and now Sonny Gray, it’s been imperative for Disco to rise to the occasion and he simply has not come anywhere close to providing what the Cincinnati Reds need.

Right-hander Mitch Keller will be making his first start since August 1st when the following day he placed on the IL due to left side discomfort. Keller made his MLB debut against the Reds in the Queen City last year, allowing six runs on seven hits in four innings of work while taking the loss in a Cincinnati 8-1 win.

Tuesday night is where things get a little weird at GABP, as Michael Lorenzen (1-1 5.23 ERA) makes his first start in nearly two years opposing Joe Musgrove (0-4 5.40 ERA) of the Pirates. In his six seasons with the Reds, Lorenzen has made 24 starts, but 21 of those came during his 2015 rookie season. It’s hard to imagine manager David Bell treating this any more than a bullpen game.

Lorenzen has only thrown more than two innings twice this season and it took him 40 pitches to record just four outs in his last appearance against the Cubs on Thursday night. Considering the recent track record of DeSclafani, the Reds bullpen could be in shambles by the end of Tuesday night. Don’t be surprised to see a lot of movement between Prasco Park and GABP this week regarding bullpen arms.

Musgrove has dominated the Redlegs in his past three starts dating back to September of 2018. The 27-year-old is 3-0 and has allowed just four runs and one long ball over 19.1 innings. Equally as impressive he’s fanned 20 Reds while issuing just a single free pass.

One Reds player that Musgrove has absolutely owned is the $64-million man, Nick Castellanos. The Cincinnati right fielder is hitless in seven at-bats with five punchouts versus Musgrove. Perhaps that will change on Tuesday night.

La Piedra closes out the series and season finale versus Pittsburgh Wednesday night squaring off against JT Brubaker (1-1 5.34 ERA). Luis Castillo (2-5 3.44 ERA) is coming off a vintage outing against the St. Louis Cardinals. Tossing a complete-game two-hitter, he threw 112 pitches in a Reds 3-1 win. That’s the dominant version of Castillo Reds Country has been accustomed to seeing.

Castillo has not lost to the Pirates in over two years and mowed them down with relative ease in his one start against them this year. Hurling six innings of two-run ball, he fanned eight in notching his first victory of the season.

Throughout his career, Castillo been particularly cruel to Pittsburgh first baseman Josh Bell. The Bucs switch hitter is just 3-for-19 with six punchouts against La Piedra. A typical Castillo performance on Wednesday would go a long way toward securing a win the series finale.

Rookie right-hander JT Brubaker will be making his debut versus the Reds. In 30.1 innings of work, the 26-year-old Brubaker has allowed 32 hits while walking 13 and fanning 32 hitters. According to FanGraphs, Brubaker relies mostly on a fastball and slider combination with the heater averaging 93.9 MPH. Occasionally you’ll see him use a changeup or curve, although he uses those pitches less than 20% of the time.