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

CINCINNATI, OH - APRIL 07: Kyle Farmer #17 of the Cincinnati Reds hits a two-run RBI double. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - APRIL 07: Kyle Farmer #17 of the Cincinnati Reds hits a two-run RBI double. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /
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Sonny Gray #54 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 28: Sonny Gray #54 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

Previewing the pitching matchups: Reds vs. Pirates

Tyler Mahle (1-1 3.23 ERA) gets the nod in the series opener, squaring off against Mitch Keller (2-3 6.29 ERA) of the Pirates. The Cincinnati right-hander is looking to bounce back following an uncustomary poor outing at the hands of the Chicago Cubs, but PNC Park is the perfect antidote for Mahle.

In his four starts in the Steel City, Mahle has allowed just five runs and two walks in 21.2 innings of work. During his last two appearances in Pittsburgh, Mahle has tossed 11 frames of shutout baseball, fanning 10 Pirates without yielding a walk. Let’s hope for a similar performance tonight.

Bucs’ right-hander Mitch Keller has created many of his own problems this season. The 25-year-old hurler has issued 15 free passes in only 24.1 innings. Needless to say, don’t expect Keller to go deep into tonight’s game. In half of his six starts, he’s failed to escape the fourth inning.

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Tuesday night, Reds manager David Bell will hand the ball to Jeff Hoffman (2-2 4.39 ERA), who’s in desperate need of a good start. Pittsburgh will counter with JT Brubaker (2-2 2.78 ERA), who has established himself as the staff’s ace.

There’s no way to say it gently; the last two outings from Hoffman have been poor. Totaling just 6.1 frames, the right-hander has been tattooed for two homers and seven runs. To make matters worse, Hoffman has not helped his cause by walking seven. He must turn his recent performances around to remain a viable option for the starting rotation.

Right-hander JT Brubaker has been mowing down opponents as of late. Over his last 23 innings, he’s whiffed 27 against only three bases on balls. However, don’t tell Reds slugger Nick Castellanos. The Cincinnati right fielder is 3-for-6 with a double lifetime versus the Pirates starter.

Wednesday’s matinee series finale will star Sonny Gray (0-2 3.92 ERA) battling veteran Trevor Cahill (1-4 6.75 ERA) of the Bucs. How good has Gray been in his last two starts? One word would be sensational.

Facing two of the best teams in baseball, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox, Gray has surrendered just two runs on six hits over 12.2 innings while fanning 19 opposing hitters. As for the Pirates, look for them to have a long afternoon.

Trevor Cahill would rather forget his last outing versus Cincinnati. The Reds erupted for nine hits, seven runs, and four round-trippers in only four innings. Honestly, the 35-year-old Cahill is pitching for his major league life as he’s allowed at least five earned runs in three of his six starts this season.