by Matt Wilkes

RC+ Preview: Just beat the Pirates

The Month of Marty is over. The chance to play spoiler is over. The race for fourth place in the NL Central is over. Now it’s just time to beat the Pirates (68-91).

The Reds (73-86) are back in PNC Park for the last three games of the season. Game one kicks off tonight at 7:05 p.m. ET.

Pitching Matchup

Anthony DeSclafani takes the mound as he looks to wrap up a solid season. Disco has firmly cemented himself as the Reds’ No. 4 starter heading into 2020, having raised his strikeout rate and velocity while maintaining average peripherals. Most importantly, DeSclafani stayed healthy all season. He’s making his 31st start tonight, matching his career high set in 2015.

Steven Brault was supposed to be the Pirates’ long reliever but has made 18 starts this season due to injuries. He’s a below-average pitcher by every metric. He doesn’t throw hard or strike batters out. He has struggled with his command and been hit hard this season.

  • 39% hard-hit rate (29th percentile)
  • .345 xwOBA (15th percentile)

This could be as a result of his low-spin 4-seam fastball, which he uses about half of the time. That being said, his second-best start of the year came in his only start against the Reds on May 29. He gave up no runs in 5+ innings in a 7-2 Pirate win.

(*whispers* #GetTheHitting)

Reds Lineup

No Joey Votto tonight. Alex Blandino makes the start at first base for the first time in his professional career. So that’s where the Reds are at right now. Michael Lorenzen draws another start in center field. José Peraza is leading off for some reason.

Here are the splits for Reds hitters against left-handed pitchers:

Pirates Lineup

[Graphics: Baseball Savant]

Big thanks to Mike Hart, who contributed graphics and research for this post.

Matt Wilkes got hooked on Reds baseball after attending his first game in Cinergy Field at 6 years old, and he hasn’t looked back. As a kid, he was often found imitating his favorite players — Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn, Sean Casey, and Austin Kearns — in the backyard. When he finally went inside, he was leading the Reds to 162-0 seasons in MVP Baseball 2005 or keeping stats for whatever game was on TV. He started writing about baseball in 2014 and has become fascinated by analytics and all the new data in the game. Matt is also a graduate of The Ohio State University and currently lives in Columbus. Follow him on Twitter at @_MattWilkes.