Hot-hitting Alejo Lopez and the Reds look to pillage and plunder the visiting Pirates

Cincinnati Reds infielder Alejo Lopez
Cincinnati Reds infielder Alejo Lopez / G Fiume/GettyImages
3 of 3

The loss yesterday in the rubber match of the weekend series finale in Milwaukee guaranteed the Cincinnati Reds (56-82) of their first losing season since the 2019 campaign.

After leading the Reds to consecutive winning seasons, for the first time since the 2012 and 2013 seasons, manager David Bell was saddled with his second losing campaign as he nears the conclusion of his fourth year as the Reds' skipper.

How long has it been since the Reds were able to string three consecutive winning seasons together? You have to go back nearly 40 years to the 1985 Redlegs, led by manager Pete Rose, who started a streak of four winning campaigns in a row through the 1988 season.

The Reds have dominated the Pirates at Great American Ball Park.

Unfortunately, Cincinnati seems destined for its eighth 90-loss campaign since the turn of the century. However, with seven more victories, the Reds will avoid their second 100-loss season in franchise history as the 1982 team will continue to hold that dubious distinction.

The good news is the Reds should make some headway towards victory number 63 this week as the dreadful Pittsburgh Pirates (51-88) arrive in the Queen City. Pittsburgh has dropped eight of their last 10 and are a miserable 12-34 since the All-Star break.

Entering play today, the Bucs occupy the basement of the National League Central and trail the Reds by 5.5 games in the race for fourth place in the division. Pittsburgh has undoubtedly earned its ugly record. As play began yesterday, they ranked last in the senior circuit in batting average, and on-base percentage, while residing second from the bottom in slugging.

Over the last decade, the Reds have dominated the Pirates at Great American Ball Park sporting a 58-38 advantage. Cincinnati owns a 7-5 mark against the Pirates this season, and are looking to win the season series for a third consecutive campaign.

Previewing the pitching matchups: Reds vs. Pirates

Cincinnati Reds starter Mike Minor vs. Pittsburgh Pirates starter Bryse Wilson

Mike Minor (4-10 5.70 ERA) draws the assignment in tonight's opener against Bryse Wilson (2-8 6.11 ERA) of the Pirates. The Cincinnati Reds left-hander is looking to capture his fourth victorious decision in a row.

In his last three starts, Minor has allowed five runs in 17.1 innings of work. Additionally, the veteran southpaw has surrendered three earned runs or less in four of his last seven outings. His current win streak began with a Reds' 9-5 victory over the Bucs in the Steel City on August 21st.

Don't let Bryse Wilson's numbers fool you. He's been a tough customer for Reds' hitters this season. In two starts, the 24-year-old right-hander has been touched for only four earned runs in 13.2 frames. In addition, he's yet to issue a free pass to the Redlegs.

Cincinnati Reds starter Nick Lodolo vs. Pittsburgh Pirates starter Roansy Contreras

Neither manager has named a starter for either game in Tuesday's split doubleheader. However, Wednesday's matinee series finale will feature Nick Lodolo (4-5 3.78 ERA) battling Roansy Contreras (5-4 3.29 ERA) for Derek Shelton's club.

It's tough to be much better than Nick Lodolo's been over his last three starts. Tossing 21 innings, the rookie southpaw has allowed five runs while fanning 25 against just two bases on balls. This will be his first appearance versus the Pirates.

Fellow rookie Roansy Contreras has been excellent this season as the Reds saw first-hand at GABP in July. Completing six frames of one-run baseball, the right-hander mowed down seven Redlegs in a Bucs' 4-2 victory in the Queen City.

No one on the Reds roster is swinging a hotter bat than Alejo Lopez.

In his brief MLB career, there's no denying that Alejo Lopez has a skill, and that skill is hitting. The 26-year-old switch-hitter is slashing .455/.500/.727 over his last seven games including his first major league round-tripper in yesterday's 7-6 defeat in Milwaukee.

Inflicting damage at the plate is nothing new for the Mexican-born Lopez. Since joining the Cincinnati Reds organization as a 27th-round selection in the 2015 MLB Draft, Lopez has posted impressive offensive numbers. Throughout parts of seven minor league seasons, the Reds' utility infielder has produced a .298/.371/.392 slash line.

How hot has Lopez been of late? Since being recalled from Triple-A Louisville on August 9th, the Lopez has compiled five multi-hit games, including collecting three hits in a trio of contests. Even before yesterday's 3-for-3 performance, Lopez has paced Cincinnati with a .412 batting average and .429 on-base percentage over the last four weeks.

As we look toward the 2023 Cincinnati Reds roster, it's easy to see Alejo Lopez being with the big league club to open the season. First of all, he can play all over the field and offers far more upside than the likes of Matt Reynolds. Second, and undoubtedly important to the Reds front office, he'll have limited impact on the club's payroll.

Prediction: Reds take 3-of-4 from the Pirates.

Despite dropping the weekend series in Milwaukee, the Reds are playing solid baseball of late, winning two of their last three series. How about we make that three of the last four.?

Look for the Redlegs to take 3-of-4 from the Bucs before returning to the road for a four-game weekend set against the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals.