Reds vs Pirates: Pitching preview, prediction and more

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 14: Nick Castellanos #2 of the Cincinnati Reds bats against the Pittsburgh Pirates. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 14: Nick Castellanos #2 of the Cincinnati Reds bats against the Pittsburgh Pirates. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /
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Wade Miley #22 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the first inning.
CINCINNATI, OH – AUGUST 12: Wade Miley #22 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the first inning. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Previewing the pitching matchups: Reds vs. Pirates

Monday night’s series opener will see Pittsburgh’s JT Brubaker opposing Jose De Leon. The Reds right-hander will be making his first MLB start since September 28, 2016, when he was a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

This is a massive start for De Leon. Due to Sonny Gray and Michael Lorenzen’s injuries, De Leon has an opportunity to establish himself as a viable major league pitcher. The 28-year-old appeared in five games during spring training, including four starts, striking out 24 in just 16.2 frames. However, he surrendered five homers and nine free passes. He’s got to clean those numbers up.

Fellow right-hander JT Brubaker is coming off a 2020 campaign in which he went 1-3 with a 4.94 ERA in 47.1 innings. The 27-year-old native of Springfield, Ohio tossed an excellent game against the Reds in his lone start against the club last year, allowing just one run in 5.1 innings in a Cincinnati 1-0 victory.

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Tuesday’s middle game of the three-game set has the Pirates Trevor Cahill squaring off against Wade Miley. The Reds left-hander is hoping for much better results in his second season in the Queen City. Injuries and ineffectiveness plagued the 34-year-old Miley last season. Tossing only 14.1 innings, the Cajun was 0-3 with a 5.65 ERA.

If you’re looking for a silver lining in Miley facing the Pirates, you’re not going to find it. In his last five starts against Pittsburgh, the Pirates have roughed him up for 33 hits and 17 runs over 20.2 innings. Miley has not defeated the Bucs since the 2013 season. Needless to say, he’s due.

Cahill will make his Pirates debut after spending last season with the San Francisco Giants. The much-traveled 33-year-old is pitching for his ninth different organization. He has not made a start versus the Reds since the 2014 season, but there’s one player who will undoubtedly look forward to seeing him on the bump. Mike Moustakas is slashing .714/.778/1.143 with a homer in 10 career plate appearances against Cahill.

Wednesday’s matinee will feature a pair of right-handers in Pittsburg’s Chad Kuhl and Cincinnati’s Luis Castillo. Needless to say, La Piedra can only be better than he was on Opening Day. Castillo’s performance was arguably the worst of his career. Lasting just 3.1 innings, he allowed a whopping 10 runs, in addition to eight hits, two walks, and zero strikeouts. In a word, it was awful.

However, the sight of Pirates in the batter’s box should bring a smile to Castillo’s face. In this last five starts against Pittsburgh, Castillo is 3-0 with a 1.45 ERA. Also, La Piedra has fanned 37 Bucs in 31 frames. Expect to see that same kind of dominance Wednesday afternoon.

Chad Kuhl’s Opening Day start against the Cubs was shorter than Castillo’s Opening Day assignment despite allowing only one earned run on two hits in three innings of work. Lifetime Kuhl is 2-2 with an impressive 3.19 ERA in seven starts against the Reds, and he absolutely owns Cincinnati backstop, Tucker Barnhart.

The Reds catcher has just two hits in 14 at-bats lifetime versus Kuhl. Don’t be surprised to see David Bell give him Wednesday afternoon off and let rookie Tyler Stephenson try his luck against the right-hander.