Looking for relief from the road, Alexis Díaz and the Reds return home to battle the Cubs

Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Alexis Diaz (43) delivers in the fifth inning of a baseball game.
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Alexis Diaz (43) delivers in the fifth inning of a baseball game. / Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY
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Previewing the pitching matchups: Reds vs. Cubs

Reds starting pitcher Vladimir Gutierrez vs. Cubs starting pitcher Drew Smyly

Vladimir Gutierrez (0-5 8.65 ERA) makes his first appearance in nearly two weeks as he'll face Chicago's Drew Smyly (1-5 3.97 ERA) in tonight's opener. Interestingly, after being demoted to the bullpen following another poor start on May 11th in Milwaukee, Gutierrez never pitched in relief.

His banishment from the starting rotation was certainly warranted. The Cuban right-hander has not worked more than 4.2 innings in any of his six outings and he's issued 19 free passes in only 26 frames.

Southpaw Drew Smyly has dominated Cincinnati in four career starts against the Redlegs. The 33-year-old is 3-0 with a sparkling 3.10 ERA. However, The Punisher may be his kryptonite. Aristides Aquino has taken Smyly deep twice in six at-bats versus the nine-year veteran.

Reds starting pitcher Tyler Mahle vs. Cubs starting pitcher Marcus Stroman

Following a trio of impressive starts, Tyler Mahle (2-4 5.23 ERA) toes the rubber Tuesday night as Marcus Stroman (1-4 4.88 ERA) gets the call for the North Siders. Mahle has recently displayed the type of outings that warranted him being the club's Opening Day starter.

Over his last 17 innings, the Cincinnati right-hander has allowed just five runs on eight hits while compiling 18 K's. Chicago outfielder Ian Happ is probably begging manager David Ross for an off day on Tuesday. The University of Cincinnati alum is 2-for-20 lifetime versus Mahle with 10 punch outs.

It's safe to say the numbers are not what Cubs fans had in mind when Marcus Stroman was signed to a massive contract during the offseason. However, the right-hander has been excellent in his last two appearances. Tossing a dozen innings, he's allowed just two earned runs on seven hits while collecting 11 strikeouts.

Reds starting pitcher Luis Castillo vs. Cubs starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks

Wednesday night's tilt has Luis Castillo (0-2 4.60 ERA) battling Kyle Hendricks (2-4 4.89 ERA) for David Ross' club. Despite taking the loss in his last start, La Piedra looked like his old, dominant self.

Tossing six innings versus the Blue Jays, Castillo yielded only two runs while compiling five punch outs without issuing a free pass. However, the Cubs have had their way with the right-hander in recent years. La Piedra is just 1-3 with an uncharacteristic 4.82 ERA in his last five starts against the Cubbies.

Expect to see a few souvenirs for fans sitting in the outfield seats when Kyle Henricks pitches at GABP. The longtime Chicago right-hander has been taken deep eight times in his last six starts in the Queen City. Joey Votto is slashing a ridiculous .361/.539/.778 with four bombs in 36 meetings with Hendricks.

Reds starting pitcher Hunter Greene vs. Cubs starting pitcher Justin Steele

Thursday afternoon's matinee series finale will feature Hunter Greene (1-6 5.49 ERA) opposing Justin Steele (1-4 3.82 ERA) of the Cubs. You can't be much better than Greene has been in his last two outings.

Tossing a career-high 118 pitches in holding the Pittsburgh Pirates hitless for 7.1 innings, on May 15th, Greene was the hard-luck loser in a 1-0 defeat. He followed up that performance by hurling six frames of four-hit one-run baseball with six K's against a deep and talented Toronto lineup.

Don't look for Justin Steele to go very deep in Thursday's game. The southpaw has completed six frames in only one start this season and has gone less than four innings in a trio of outings. Additionally, he's lasted just nine innings in two career starts versus the Cincinnati Reds.