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

CINCINNATI, OHIO - JUNE 24: Dansby Swanson #7 of the Atlanta Braves attempts to turn a double play past Eugenio Suarez #7 of the Cincinnati Reds in the sixth inning at Great American Ball Park on June 24, 2021 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - JUNE 24: Dansby Swanson #7 of the Atlanta Braves attempts to turn a double play past Eugenio Suarez #7 of the Cincinnati Reds in the sixth inning at Great American Ball Park on June 24, 2021 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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Wade Miley #22 of the Cincinnati Reds reacts in the sixth inning.
CINCINNATI, OHIO – JULY 20: Wade Miley #22 of the Cincinnati Reds reacts in the sixth inning. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Previewing the pitching matchups: Reds vs. Braves.

Sonny Gray (4-6 4.44 ERA) gets the call tonight as the Braves counter with Drew Smyly (7-3 4.50 ERA) in the opener. It wasn’t easy in Gray’s last trip to the mound, but he battled and defeated the Pirates as he notched victories in back-to-back starts for the first time this season.

Surrendering six hits and four runs in five innings of work, Gray bulldogged his way to the winner’s circle. That same bulldog mentality will be needed against the Braves. Even though the two-time All-Star has never defeated Atlanta, it hasn’t been from lack of effort.

In four career starts against the Braves, he’s compiled an excellent 3.16 ERA with 25 punch outs in 25.2 innings of work. Atlanta is just one of six teams Gray has yet to defeat in his nine major league seasons.

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Left-hander Drew Smyly has handcuffed the Reds in their last two meetings. Tossing 11.1 frames, the 32-year-old southpaw has allowed only two runs while punching out 11 Redlegs. Cincinnati first baseman Joey Votto is hitless in eight at-bats versus the Braves starter.

The middle game of the three-game set finds Wade Miley (9-4 2.75 ERA) opposing Touki Toussaint (1-2 4.43 ERA) of the Braves. Miley is coming off an exceptional outing against Pittsburgh, tossing seven shutout innings.

Consistency has been Miley’s middle name this season. The Reds’ southpaw has not yielded more than three runs in a start since June 28th. He’s seeking his first win versus the Braves since the 2015 campaign as a member of the Boston Red Sox.

A former first-round pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Touki Toussant will be making his first career start against the Redlegs. The right-hander has yet to allow a run in the first two innings in any of his four starts.

However, the second time through the order proves to be a more painful experience for the 25-year-old. Tousant has compiled a 13.50 ERA in both the third and fourth innings this year.

Thursday’s series finale will feature Vladimir Gutierrez (7-3 4.15 ERA) battling Atlanta’s Kyle Muller (2-3 2.88 ERA). The Reds right-hander is coming off a trio of outstanding outings.

Over his last 19.1 innings, Gutierrez has allowed just four runs on 14 hits while collecting three consecutive victories. This will be his second start against the Braves. Atlanta took the Cuban native deep twice in six frames in a June 25th Braves 3-2 win at GABP.

Rookie Kyle Muller dominated the Redlegs in their first meeting. Hurling five frames of shutout one-hit baseball, the left-hander fanned nine Reds. During that June 27th appearance in the Queen City, both Aristides Aquino and Joey Votto whiffed twice versus the southpaw.