Reds vs. Diamondbacks: Pitching preview, prediction, and more

Apr 10, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks left fielder Tim Locastro (16) is tagged out by Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 10, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks left fielder Tim Locastro (16) is tagged out by Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports /
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Jeff Hoffman #23 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches.
CINCINNATI, OH – APRIL 4: Jeff Hoffman #23 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

Previewing the pitching matchups: Reds vs. Diamondbacks

Luis Castillo (1-1 7.04 ERA) will oppose Arizona’s Zac Gallen (0-0 2.25 ERA) in tonight’s opener. It’s been a tough April for Castillo, and historically, that’s been the case as far as La Piedra is concerned.

His career 4.53 ERA in March/April is his highest of any month, and if history repeats itself, it could be a long night for Castillo. The Diamondbacks have rocked the Reds’ ace during their past five meetings.

Castillo is just 1-4 with an ugly 5.22 ERA in those five starts. Don’t be surprised to see catcher Stephen Vogt get the start in the opener for the D-backs. The left-handed-hitting slugger is 3-for-6 lifetime versus La Piedra with a double and two free passes.

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Gallen will be making his second start of the season following an impressive one-run and eight strikeout performance over four frames against Oakland. This will be just his second career start versus the Reds. Cincinnati roughed the right-hander up for three runs in 5.2 innings as Eugenio Suarez took the 25-year-old deep twice in a September 2019 meeting.

For the middle of the three-game set, Tyler Mahle (1-1 2.57 ERA) gets the call against veteran Merrill Kelly (1-2 8.44 ERA) of the D-backs. Mahle has been nothing short of sensational this year. Tossing 14 innings, the right-hander has allowed just seven hits while fanning 22 opposing hitters.

Mahle failed to yield a hit to the Diamondbacks in their earlier meeting this month but was lifted after allowing four walks and throwing 92 pitches in only four frames. Over his last 13 appearances dating back to last year, Mahle has a 3.36 ERA in 61.1 innings with 82 punch outs. He’s becoming an excellent starting pitching right before our eyes.

It’s been tough going for Merrill Kelly to open the 2021 season. The 32-year-old right-hander has allowed a staggering 23 hits and 15 earned runs in 16 innings of work. He’s faced the Redlegs just once, tossing seven shutout innings during a September 2019 start at Chase Field.

Thursday’s matinee will feature Jeff Hoffman (2-1 2.93 ERA) in the starring role as he battles the Diamondbacks Taylor Widener (1-0 1.59 ERA). Hoffman has been fantastic in his two starts at GABP this season.

In 11 innings, Hoffman has surrendered just two runs and has fanned 10 in winning his two outings. His only less than stellar performance in 2021 came against these very same D-backs who broke through for six hits and three runs in 4.1 frames during an April 10th start. This seems like the perfect opportunity to exact some revenge.

Speaking of impressive numbers to start the season, Taylor Widener has tossed shutout baseball in two of three starts.  Only the Reds have been able to cross the plate against the right-hander touching him for four runs, three earned, in a five-inning stint on April 9th.