Jonathan India and the Reds look to filet the Marlins in the Queen City

Cincinnati Reds Jonathan India
Cincinnati Reds Jonathan India / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages
3 of 4

Reds Country, I have good news to report. The All-Star break did not diminish the Cincinnati Reds' impressive play of late as they took two of three from their division rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals, at Great American Ball Park to open their second-half schedule.

The Redlegs have won seven of their last 11 games and have turned GABP into a true home-field advantage by winning eight of the last 12 contests playing in front of friendly faces. What's even more promising is just who the Cincinnati Reds (36-58) have been beating during their recent hot streak.

All seven of their victories have come against potential playoff teams in the Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees, and, the aforementioned, Cardinals. As a result, the Reds may be able to finally climb out of the National League Central basement as their next 10 games are against sub .500 clubs with seven of those contests at GABP.

However, before we get too far ahead of ourselves, the Reds will need to take care of business versus the Miami Marlins over the next four days. One area Cincinnati will look to exploit this week is an anemic Marlins' offensive unit.

Can the Reds continue their dominance over the Marlins?

Entering play Sunday, the Miami Marlins (45-50) have the second-lowest team on-base percentage (.302) and the 12th ranked team batting average (.237) in the senior circuit. Currently, designated hitter Garrett Cooper is the only everyday player on the Marlins roster who sports an average above the .260 mark.

Miami has found some success on the pitching mound. Their staff ERA of 3.77, as of Sunday, ranks fifth in the NL. Much of that success can be directly attributed to All-Star Sandy Alcantara.

The right-hander has been spectacular posting a 9-4 record with an incredible 1.81 ERA in 20 starts this season. Thankfully, it appears the Reds will miss him this series considering he started yesterday versus the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Even though this is the first time the two clubs have squared off against each other this season, they will become intimately familiar with one another as they will play seven times in the next 10 days. Cincinnati has dominated the series over the past decade at GABP winning 20 of the 30 contests including seven in a row.

Can Cincinnati Reds rookie Nick Lodolo bounce back on Monday?

Cincinnati Reds starter Nick Lodolo vs. Miami Marlins starter Trevor Rogers

Nick Lodolo (2-3 5.81 ERA) gets the call in tonight's series opener for the Cincinnati Reds as the Miami Marlins will counter with fellow lefty Trevor Rogers (4-9 5.46 ERA). The Cincinnati southpaw is looking to rebound following what was arguably the roughest start in his rookie campaign.

Working just two innings, Lodolo was torched for five runs on as many hits, including a homer, against the St. Louis Cardinals prior to the All-Star break. Consistently finding the strike zone has been the left-hander's biggest obstacle. The 24-year-old has issued a dozen free passes in just 26.1 frames.

Trevor Rogers, the runner-up to Jonathan India in last year's NL Rookie of the Year balloting, has suffered a sophomore slump. Much of Rogers' struggles surround his inability to keep hitters off the base paths. Tossing 84 innings this season, he's allowed an incredible 130 men to reach base via a hit or walk resulting in an unsightly 1.55 WHIP.

Cincinnati Reds starter Hunter Greene vs. Miami Marlins starter Pablo Lopez

Tuesday night finds Hunter Greene (3-11 5.78 ERA) toeing the rubber while Pablo Lopez (6-5 3.14 ERA) receives the assignment for Don Mattingly's squad. Cincinnati's fireballing right-hander is seeking his first victory since June 6th against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Keeping the ball in the yard will be of paramount importance for Greene's success. The rookie has been taken deep a whopping 23 times in 90.1 frames. However, this Miami lineup should provide some relief. Jesus Aguilar and Jesus Sanchez are the only Marlins on the active roster who have reached double digits in round-trippers this season.

Pablo Lopez may be one of the most underrated starters in the National League. Over the past three seasons, the 26-year-old right-hander has posted an exceptional ERA of 3.21 in 50 starts with 281 K's in 269 innings. Needless to say, he'll present a challenge for the Reds lineup.

Will this be Luis Castillo's last start in a Cincinnati Reds uniform?

Cincinnati Reds starter Luis Castillo vs. Miami Marlins starter Braxton Garrett

If you're a Luis Castillo (3-4 2.77 ERA) fan, and, really, who isn't, I suggest tuning in Wednesday night for what will be likely his final start in a Cincinnati Reds' uniform. Braxton Garrett (2-3 3.42 ERA) is given the chore of opposing La Piedra.

Acquired from the Marlins in January of 2017 for right-hander Dan Straily, Luis Castillo has been sensational in Cincinnati as evidenced by his two All-Star selections. If this is indeed his final start wearing the wishbone "C", here's a personal tip of the cap to the right-hander for all the amazing highlights he's provided Reds Country over the last six seasons.

This may not be the best timing for the Reds to face southpaw Braxton Garrett. In his last two outings, the former first-round selection of the Fish in the 2016 draft, has limited opponents to one run on four hits in 12 frames with an attention-grabbing 18 punch outs. Don't be surprised to see a pitchers duel Wednesday night.

Cincinnati Reds starter Graham Ashcraft vs. Miami Marlins starter TBD

Thursday's matinee series finale features Graham Ashcraft (4-2 4.70 ERA) on the mound for the Redlegs. Miami skipper Don Mattingly has yet to announce his starter for the Queen City finale.

As it is for most rookies, Ashcraft's season has been riddled with inconsistency. After allowing just three runs in his first four career starts, the Alabama native has allowed 16 runners to dent the plate in his last four appearances. Let's hope this is the start the 24-year-old regains his footing and provides Cincinnati with a quality outing.

Reds second baseman Jonathan India is heating up, folks.

There's reason to believe the reigning NL Rookie of the Year is finally displaying the play that made him so electrifying last season in the Queen City. Following a six-week stint on the IL due to a hamstring injury, Jonathan India is once again creating excitement in Reds Country.

Over his last seven games, India is slashing .286/.394/.571 with two homers and four RBIs. If that slash line looks eerily familiar, it should. During the second baseman's award-winning rookie campaign he slashed an impressive .269/.376/.459 with 21 homers.

Not to make excuses for India, but there's little doubt the hamstring injury has played a major role in what's largely been a disappointing second act up to this point in the season. However, I don't believe for a minute a healthy Jonathan India is hitting .227 with a .292 OBP as he's done thus far in the 2022 season.

India is the engine of the Reds' offense. There's little doubt his ability to reach base was the catalyst in leading the Reds to within striking distance of a playoff appearance last season. If he can duplicate last year's success throughout the second half of this year, it likely result in another third-place finish for the Reds in the NL Central.

Prediction: Reds vs. Marlins

Don't look now, but the Cincinnati Reds have been one of the hottest teams in the National League over the last few weeks, and the good times will continue to roll this week.

Look for the Redlegs to take three of four from the Marlins before welcoming a surprising Baltimore Oriole ball club to Great American Ball Park to close out the 10-game homestand.

Next. Former Reds' OF gives hilarious response to stupid question. dark