Hot-hitting Donovan Solano leads the slumping Reds into D.C. to battle the Nationals

Cincinnati Reds infielder Donovan Solano
Cincinnati Reds infielder Donovan Solano / Mike Stobe/GettyImages
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Previewing the pitching matchups: Reds vs. Nationals

Cincinnati Reds starter Mike Minor vs. Washington Nationals starter Cade Cavali

Mike Minor (2-10 6.44 ERA) gets the call in tonight's opener facing Cade Cavalli who will be making his major league debut for the Nationals. It's finally over. Minor's seemingly never-ending nightmare finally came to a merciful ending during his last outing.

Tossing 5.2 innings of not exactly sparkling baseball, five runs, and nine hits, the Cincinnati southpaw was the recipient of a Reds offense that dented the plate nine times against the Pirates to seal Minor's first victory in 11 starts. If the 34-year-old lefty wins consecutive starts it will be his first win over the Nationals in a decade.

Cade Cavalli, the Nationals' No. 4 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, makes his first start in The Show tonight. Washington's first-round selection in the 2020 draft was 6-4 with a 3.71 ERA in 20 starts at Triple-A Rochester. Most impressive is the big right-hander fanned 104 in 97 frames.

Cincinnati Reds starter Luis Cessa vs. Washington Nationals starter Paolo Espino

For whatever reason, Luis Cessa (3-2 5.67 ERA) makes the start Saturday night as Paolo Espino (0-5 4.31 ERA) toes the rubber for Dave Martinez's club. In two starting appearances this year, the Cincinnati right-hander has hurled a total of three innings.

Granted, manager David Bell uses Cessa as an "opener," but for a club that hardly needs to expose a flammable bullpen, it's a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately, the numbers bear that out. Cincinnati has been outscored 13-4 in those two starting assignments.

Paolo Espino's luck has to eventually change. The Nationals have won five of his 13 starts, but the right-hander has yet to be rewarded with a victory. However, the 35-year-old Panamanian has struggled of late, allowing eight homers and 40 base hits in his last 33 frames of work.

Cincinnati Reds starter Nick Lodolo vs. Washington Nationals starter Patrick Corbin

Sunday's matinee series finale will feature Nick Lodolo (3-4 4.35 ERA) battling Patrick Corbin (4-17 6.81 ERA) for Washington. It's been an impressive rookie season for Lodolo, but perhaps his greatest strength has been his ability to keep the ball in the ballpark.

The southpaw has only surrendered seven round-trippers in 60 innings this season and hasn't been taken deep in his last three outings. Once he learns to command the strike zone, Lodolo has issued 28 free passes this year, the sky is the limit for Cincinnati's former first-round pick.

If there's one word to describe Patrick Corbin's season, it would be "disaster." He leads the senior circuit in losses, hits allowed, earned runs, and sports an absolutely obscene 1.81 WHIP in 121.2 innings. However, he seems to have cast a spell on Kyle Farmer. The Farm Dawg is just 2-for-13 lifetime versus the 32-year-old southpaw.