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

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JULY 27: Kyle Farmer #17 of the Cincinnati Reds hits a RBI single. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JULY 27: Kyle Farmer #17 of the Cincinnati Reds hits a RBI single. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /
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Tyler Stephenson #37 of the Cincinnati Reds reacts to his solo home run.
CINCINNATI, OHIO – JUNE 26: Tyler Stephenson #37 of the Cincinnati Reds reacts to his solo home run. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /

The Reds’ catching tandem has been spectacular.

Perhaps there’s a backstop combination as good as the Reds’ Tucker Barnhart and Tyler Stephenson in the National League, but it’s difficult to find one any better. Additionally, the play the Redlegs have received from the catching position is one of the biggest reasons they are in contention for a postseason berth.

Currently, the .293/.360/.448 slash line from the Barnhart/Stephenson combo places second in the senior circuit in all three categories among catchers. In addition, their .808 OPS mark is the third-best in all of baseball.

The veteran of the tandem, Tucker Barnhart, is having his best overall year at the plate since his 2017 season. In his eighth year in the Queen City, Barnhart is slashing .264/.334/.402 with six homers and 35 RBIs. Barnhart’s 1.4 fWAR is currently the best of his career, and he has an opportunity of eclipsing his previous career-best in batting average (.270) and slugging (.403).

Rookie Tyler Stephenson has done an equal amount of damage with the bat. A former first-round selection of the Redlegs, the right-handed slugger, has produced a .288/.372/.440 slash line with eight round-trippers and 36 ribbies. The 26-year-old Georgia native has also equaled his catching partner’s impressive 1.4 fWAR figure.

Prediction

With the Chicago Cubs and Miami Marlins coming to town this week, now is the time to make up the ground the Reds surrendered last week by going 3-4 on the road. But, as losers of 11 straight, can the Cubbies actually leave Cincinnati with a 14-game losing streak?

Next. Reds should've released Doolittle, not optioned Senzel

As much as I would love to see it, the law of averages say the North Siders slide will end sometime over the next three days. However, that won’t prevent the Reds from taking two of three before the Marlins make their annual visit to GABP for a four-game set this weekend.