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

CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 18: Matt Beaty #45 of the Los Angeles Dodgers plays defense at first base alongside Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 18: Matt Beaty #45 of the Los Angeles Dodgers plays defense at first base alongside Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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Tyler Mahle #30 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches.
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 14: Tyler Mahle #30 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

Previewing the pitching matchups: Reds vs. Dodgers

Tyler Mahle (1-1 1.74 ERA) has passed every challenge in 2021 with flying colors, but he’ll face his toughest test yet against the Dodgers in the series opener tonight. Left-hander Julio Urias (3-0 2.81 ERA) will oppose the Reds right-hander.

In three career starts against the Dodgers, Mahle has been kryptonite for LA hitters. The California native is 2-1 with an outstanding 2.12 ERA covering 17 frames. The 26-year-old has been one of the best pitchers in the league to this point in the young season.

He currently sits fifth in the senior circuit with a 1.74 ERA, and the nine hits he’s allowed are the second-fewest among all NL hurlers who have tossed at least 20 innings. That will do, Tyler. That will do.

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Urias has been spectacular to begin the 2021 campaign. Throwing 25.2 innings, he’s whiffed 26 against only four free passes. Just how good is the 24-year-old Mexican? He’s coming off an 11 strikeout, seven shutout inning performance versus the Seattle Mariners. By the way, he surrendered just one base hit as well.

Right-hander Jeff Hoffman (2-1 2.66 ERA) takes the mound Tuesday night, squaring off against fellow righty Walker Buehler (1-0 2.16 ERA) of the Dodgers. To this point, Hoffman has been a revelation for Reds manager David Bell.

Hoffman has surrendered just two gopher balls in his four starts covering 20.1 innings. It may be an extremely small sample size, but the one member of the Dodgers who Hoffman will have to tread carefully around is Mookie Betts.

Los Angeles’ perennial MVP candidate has homered in both his career at-bats versus Hoffman. There’s no shame in giving up a dinger to Betts, but if the game is on the line, there is no way David Bell and pitching coach Derek Johnson can allow Hoffman to face him.

If you thought Julio Urias exhibits pinpoint control, Walker Buehler makes him look like Charlie Sheen’s Ricky Vaughn character from Major League. The former first-round selection from Vanderbilt has issued one walk in 25 innings. One!

Wednesday’s afternoon matinee series finale at Chavez Ravine will feature Sonny Gray (0-1 7.88 ERA) battling Dodger legend Clayton Kershaw (3-2 2.56 ERA). It’s been a tough start to 2021 for Reds ace Sonny Gray.

Since returning to the active roster following a stint on the IL with back issues, the right-hander has been far from his normally sharp self. In only eight frames, he’s allowed astonishingly 17 batters to reach base via a hit or walk. This is not the Sonny Gray Reds Country is accustomed to seeing.

What else can be said about Clayton Kershaw? Eight-time All-Star, five-time ERA champ, three-time Cy Young Award winner, MVP, and now a World Champion. The day he decides to retire, it will start the five-year clock until he’s voted into Cooperstown to take his rightful place among the greats of the game.

Lifetime Kershaw is 3-2 with a 2.54 ERA in 11 starts against Cincinnati. If Reds Country wants to dream about what might have been, the southpaw was selected one pick ahead of Drew Stubbs in the 2006 draft. It’s alright to cry.