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

CINCINNATI, OHIO - JULY 04: Jonathan India #6 of the Cincinnati Reds reacts during a game. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - JULY 04: Jonathan India #6 of the Cincinnati Reds reacts during a game. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /
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Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds reacts after a double play.
CINCINNATI, OHIO – JULY 04: Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds reacts after a double play. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /

The Reds’ first road trip of the second-half opens in Wrigley Field.

It was not the homestand the Cincinnati Reds (51-48) had hoped for to open the second half of the 2021 campaign, but at least they were able to capture the final series of the nine-game homestand by taking two of three from the St. Louis Cardinals.

Nevertheless, a 3-6 start to the post-All-Star break is less than optimal. As play begins today, the Redlegs find themselves second in the National League Central division trailing the Milwaukee Brewers by 6.5 games. However, plenty of opportunities await Cincinnati this week as they visit Chicago to battle the Cubs before heading to the Big Apple to clash with the Mets.

One area of concern during their just-completed run at Great American Ball Park has been the starting rotation’s inability to pitch deep into ball games. Only Wade Miley and Luis Castillo reached the seventh inning, exposing a bullpen that sports an NL worst 5.37 ERA to try and pick up pivotal outs.

You have to give manager David Bell credit. He’s been reluctant to the call on the bullpen for good reason. For instance, Cincinnati starters entered play yesterday, tossing 516 innings, ranking them fifth in the senior circuit for most frames worked by NL rotations.

The Chicago Cubs (49-51) enter the series in fourth place in the NL Central trailing the Brewers by nine games. After dropping 3-fo-4 to start last week against the Cardinals, the Cubbies rebounded, taking 2-of-3 from the lowly Arizona Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field.

Cincinnati holds a 6-3 advantage over the North Siders this season and swept their most recent three-game set over the Fourth of July weekend at GABP. With a sweep this week at the Friendly Confines, the Reds would ensure their second season series victory over Chicago in the last three years.