Reds look to dull the Rays' shine as Tyler Stephenson is set to return to GABP this weekend

Cincinnati Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson.
Cincinnati Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson. / Kirk Irwin/GettyImages
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Nobody said it was going to be easy, but the Cincinnati Reds (29-54) are on the brink of suffering yet another losing homestand. Heading into play this weekend, the Redlegs are 3-5 on the current homestand with an excellent Tampa Bay Rays club visiting the Queen City.

Yesterday's doubleheader-split with the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates notwithstanding, the Reds have battled two of the best teams in the National League, the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets, before welcoming the Rays this weekend in the final home dates before the All-Star break.

Following the finale of the Mets series, the Reds found themselves sporting an abysmal 28-53 record at the midpoint of their 162-game schedule. If Cincinnati duplicates its first-half record to conclude the 2022 campaign, the 106 losses would be the most in franchise history, and only the second time the club will have crossed the triple-digit loss threshold.

The Rays pitching will look to impose their will against the Reds at GABP.

Needless to say, the Tampa Bay Rays (45-37) will present a monumental challenge for the Reds. Their 3.29 team ERA is the third-best among American League ball clubs. In addition, the Reds won't see a starter this weekend with an ERA north of 3.30.

Tampa Bay will need as much quality pitching as possible because their below-average offensive unit will not strike fear in any opposing pitching staff. Slashing .238/.303/.380 as a team, they are also prone to swing and miss. Their 713 punch outs were the third most in the junior circuit as play began yesterday.

Rays' sightings in the Queen City are rare. Since joining the majors as an expansion team in the 1998 season, this will be Tampa Bay's only third visit to Great American Ball Park. Cincinnati holds a 10-5 lifetime advantage over the Rays, including a 4-2 home record. How long has it been since the Rays visited southwest Ohio? Tony Cingrani was the winning pitcher in a Reds 12-4 win in April of 2014.