Reds seeking redemption as the Padres visit Great American Ball Park

Cincinnati Reds v San Diego Padres
Cincinnati Reds v San Diego Padres / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages
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Exhale, Reds Country. It's over. After 11 consecutive losses, the Cincinnati Reds (3-13) finally found the winner's circle again on Sunday afternoon as rookie Nick Lodolo's impressive start propelled them to a 4-1 victory over the division rival St. Louis Cardinals.

However, the road ahead is no less difficult as the San Diego Padres (10-7) arrive. It's safe to assume the three-game sweep Cincinnati suffered last week at Petco Park is fresh in the minds of those occupying the home team's dugout.

Excluding a pair of Tommy Pham solo homers in the first two games of the series, Padres' pitching completely overwhelmed and baffled the depleted Reds. As a result, the Friars outscored the Redlegs by a wide margin of16-3.

Speaking of drubbings, San Diego was served a helping of humble pie over the weekend as the juggernaut known as the Los Angeles Dodgers traveled south to meet their division foes. Los Angeles outscored the Padres 18-6 as they took two of three at Petco Park.

Can the Reds get off the schneid and win their 1st series of 2022?

Entering play today, San Diego ranks third in both strikeouts (160) and WHIP (1.106) among National League staffs. Southpaw Sean Manaea ranks fifth in punch outs (24), while right-hander Joe Musgrove is third with a 0.737 WHIP among senior circuit hurlers.

Not only do the Friars have stars on the mound, but they also have them in the batter's box as well. Manny Machado is off to an amazing start. Slashing .339/.423/.565 with three homers and 10 RBIs, the third baseman has also swiped three bases. Needless to say, Machado has been in beast mode to open the 2022 campaign.

One player you won't see in this series is Cincinnati catcher Tyler Stephenson. The Reds backstop is still in concussion protocol following the karate chop he received courtesy of the Padres' Luke Voit on a play at the plate last week at Petco Park. However, karma has intervened as Voit has been placed on the 10-day injured list with a biceps tendon injury.

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Tyler Mahle.
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Tyler Mahle. / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

Previewing the pitching matchups: Reds vs. Padres

Reiver Sanmartin (0-2 7.11 ERA) takes the mound in tonight's open opposing Joe Musgrove (2-0 1.89 ERA) of the Padres. The Cincinnati left-hander is looking to bounce back after being knocked around by the Friars last week.

Tossing 5.1 innings, Sanmartin allowed five runs on eight hits including a long ball to Manny Machado. To say the Colombia native needs a strong start is a huge understatement. The rookie has allowed 10 runs on 12 hits with six walks in only eight frames in his first two starting assignments of the 2022 season.

We've already mentioned how good Joe Musgrove has been this season and the Redlegs saw that first-hand last week as he worked 6.1 innings of one-run baseball while fanning seven Cincinnati hitters. Interestingly, the San Diego right-hander has dominated Tyler Naquin. The Reds' left-handed-hitting right fielder is hitless in nine at-bats with four punch outs against the Padres' starter.

Speaking of Reds' hurlers in desperate need of a good start, you can add Vladimir Gutierrez (0-3 5.54 ERA) to the list. He'll get the start Wednesday night while rookie MacKenzie Gore (1-0 1.74 ERA) toes the rubber for the visitors.

Gutierrez has failed to complete five innings in each of his last six starts dating back to last year. In those six outings, he's tossed just 22.2 frames allowing 30 hits, 21 runs, and issuing 17 free passes. Let's be honest, those are not numbers that keep you on a major league roster.

Southpaw MacKenzie Gore was spectacular versus the Reds last week. Completing five innings of shutout baseball, the 23-year-old whiffed seven Cincinnati hitters. Infielder Brandon Drury and outfielder Aristides Aquino each went down on strikes multiple times against the North Carolina native.

Thursday's matinee series finale will feature Tyler Mahle (1-2 6.88 ERA) while Nick Martinez (0-2 4.30 ERA) gets the call for Bob Melvin's club. It's been a brutal stretch for the Reds' Opening Day starter.

In his last three starts, Mahle has worked just a dozen frames and allowed 13 runs. To compound matters, the California native has issued seven free passes. On the positive side, the 27-year-old right-hander hasn't allowed a gopher ball in his last six starts dating back to the 2021 campaign.

Right-hander Nick Martinez will be making his first career start versus Cincinnati. The 31-year-old Floridian is pitching in the major leagues for the first time since 2017 following a four-year stint pitching in Japan.

Cincinnati Reds outfielder Tyler Naquin.
Cincinnati Reds outfielder Tyler Naquin. / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

The Reds are slowly returning to full strength.

I feel for manager David Bell. He's spent the first three weeks of the 2022 season managing with not one hand tied behind his back, but two. Injuries have ravaged the Cincinnati Reds' roster to begin the season, but the past several days have offered a glimmer of hope.

Over the last week, outfielders Tyler Naquin and Nick Senzel along with reliever Lucas Sims have returned from the IL. Barring any setbacks, all signs point to reigning Rookie of the Year, Jonathan India, joining the active roster for tonight's contest.

Granted there are still important pieces missing from Bell's lineup card. Third baseman Mike Moustakas, catcher Tyler Stephenson, shortstop Jose Barrero, and pitching ace Luis Castillo remain shelved. However, the team San Diego sees this week at Great American Ball Park will be very different from the one they witnessed at Petco Park.

There are other signs of life as well. Outfielder Tommy Pham is slashing .318/.375/.682 with a couple of homers over the last week, and catcher Aramis Garcia has slashed .364/.417/.455 in his last four starts.

Prediction: Reds vs. Padres

This will not be the same Cincinnati Reds squad the San Diego Padres saw in Southern California last week. The Cincinnati lineup deployed this week will be much more dangerous.

Look for the Reds to not only best the three runs they scored in San Diego but to take two of three from the Friars as the Redlegs capture their first series victory of the year before heading to the Colorado to face the Rockies this weekend.

Next. Jesse Winker takes a shot at his former team. dark