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

The benches clear after Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Amir Garrett (50) struck out Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo.
The benches clear after Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Amir Garrett (50) struck out Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo. /
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Eugenio Suarez #7 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates.
CINCINNATI, OHIO – MAY 02: Eugenio Suarez #7 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Reds third baseman, Eugenio Suarez, has excelled atop the batting order.

One phrase I could have never anticipated hearing in 2021 was, “leading off for the Reds, No. 7, Eugenio Suarez.” Give David Bell credit; he’s done everything possible to kick start Geno’s bat, and the early returns since moving him to the leadoff spot for the Cincinnati Reds have been glowing.

During the three-game set against the Nationals, Geno blasted two home runs and collected four hits while powering the Reds to a series victory. How long can Suarez remain at the top of the order? I have my doubts this is a long-term solution, but let’s ride the hot hand.

If one team brings out the best in Eugenio Suarez, it’s without a doubt the Chicago Cubs. His 27 career homers versus Chicago pitching are the most against any opponent, while his 211 total bases versus the North Siders easily outpaces all other foes.

For Cincinnati to compete, they need Eugenio Suarez not to be just good, but excellent. This is the same player who, as recently as 2019, smacked 49 home runs in conjunction with an impressive .930 OPS. If that version of Geno shows up for the final four months of the season, the Redlegs’ lineup will be even more dangerous.

Prediction: Reds drop two games to the red-hot Cubs.

The Cubs are the hottest team in the division, and their big three of Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, and Anthony Rizzo have done the heavy lifting and are facing a Cincinnati team whose starting rotation is in flux at the moment.

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As much as I want to pick the Reds to win this series, there are just too many unknowns to feel confident. How will Vladimir Gutierrez fare in his debut? Will Luis Castillo escape the fourth or fifth inning? Who starts Sunday? As a result of all the uncertainty, look for the Reds to drop their first road series of the month. However, I would love for the Redlegs to prove me wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time.