Reds vs. Pirates: Preview, pitching matchup, and prediction

Sep 16, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Cincinnati Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson (37) eyes Pittsburgh Pirates left fielder Ben Gamel (18) sliding into home plate. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 16, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Cincinnati Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson (37) eyes Pittsburgh Pirates left fielder Ben Gamel (18) sliding into home plate. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Luis Cessa #85 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches.
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – SEPTEMBER 08: Luis Cessa #85 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

The Reds bullpen has been lights out of late.

I know it’s easy to be critical of Cincinnati’s general manager Nick Krall right now. With minor league hitting coordinator CJ Gillman and minor league pitching coordinator Kyle Boddy having agreed to part ways with the Cincinnati Reds, a lot of eyebrows have been raised and fans are questioning the direction of this franchise moving forward.

That said, Krall’s trade deadline acquisitions (Luis Cessa, Justin Wilson, and Mychal Givens) have been lights out of late. The trio has combined to throw 13.1 innings over the last two weeks and have allowed just four hits and one unearned run.

Add to that mix the duo of Art Warren and Tony Santillan, and the Cincinnati Reds’ bullpen, all of the sudden, looks like the team’s biggest strength rather than its biggest weakness. Santillan and Warren, during that same timeframe, have pitched a combined nine innings, struck out 11 batters, and put zeros up on the board each time they head to the hill.

The Reds’ bullpen is 4-for-4 in save opportunities over the last two weeks, owning a 3.43 ERA, and recording 116 punch outs over 112.1 innings of work. While the normally reliable Lucas Sims and Michael Lorenzen have allowed six earned runs over their combined 11 innings of relief, the aforementioned quintet of relievers have kept the Reds in games late.

Prediction: Reds vs. Pirates

Call me crazy, but this endless cycle of losing series stops this week. While I don’t have enough confidence to predict a three-game sweep, I believe the Redlegs will finally get the monkey off their back and take two of three from the Buccos this week at home.

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The St. Louis Cardinals will likely avoid Cy Young candidate Corbin Burnes during their upcoming four-game series with the Milwaukee Brewers. The Cincinnati Reds will need to hope that Milwaukee’s dynamic duo of Freddy Peralta and Brandon Woodruff can dispense of the Cardinals this week and put an end to the Redbirds’ eight-game win streak.