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Series Preview: Indians at Reds

The Battle for Ohio begins in Cincinnati

Chicago Cubs v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Given the state of the things, the Ohio Cup might be the only notable championship any baseball team can win this year. The annual Battle for Ohio starts tonight with a two-game set in Cincinnati and then heads to Cleveland for two more.

This first set in Cincy will feature Zach Plesac making his second start after piling up 11 strikeouts in his first outing against the White Sox. He, like every other Indians starter, was let down by the offense and is 0-0 on the season despite his domination on the mound. He’ll be followed by Shane Bieber who has yet to allow a run this season and struck out an MLB record-tying 27 batters through his first two starts.

The Indians will likely be without their skipper for this series as Terry Francona is being checked out for gastrointestinal issues at Cleveland Clinic. He did not travel with the team to Cincinnati. His stomach issues date back to the first round of spring training and are not thought to be COVID-19 related.

Team in a box

2020 Pittsburgh Pirates

Record 18-39
Record 18-39
Runs Scored 202
Runs Allowed 286
Run Differential -84
Last 10 4-6
AVG .218
OBP .282
SLG .349
OPS .631
wRC+ 71
ERA 4.71
SIERA 4.48
K-BB% 13.2%

Projected starters

Monday, August 3, 6:40 p.m. ET: RHP Sonny Gray vs. Zach Plesac

After a disastrous year-and-a-half in New York, Sonny Gray has regained his excellent form that made him a Cy Young candidate with the A’s earlier in the decade. Last season, his first with the Reds, he finished with a 2.87 ERA career-high 28.9% strikeout rate. He’s always had a great spin rate on his fastball and curveballs — even during his down years — but last year he was able to put it together with the Reds by working in his curve and slider more and relying less on his struggling sinker.

Tuesday, August 4, 6:10 p.m. ET: RHP Tyler Mahle vs. Shane Bieber

Three years into his career as a starter and Tyler Mahle is the definition of “just a guy” in the rotation. No overwhelming stuff, gets hit pretty hard, but does enough to hold his own at the bottom of a rotation with his ability to his spots when he needs to. Mahle profiles as the kind of pitcher the Indians should be able to crush. He throws his four-seamer a vast majority of the time and his secondary stuff just isn’t enough to fool major-league hitters. If the offense can’t get going here. something is seriously wrong.

Lineup highlights

OF, Nick Castellanos - The artist formally known as Nicholas, Nick Castellanos has been worth the money and then some for the Reds so far. With 12 hits, four homers, and three doubles in his first 36 plate appearances, he ranks in the top 4% of the league with a .534 wOBA and he’s already barreled five of his 23 batted balls. He’s also walked more than usual with an 11.1% walk rate through nine games.

2B, Mike Moustakas - The “other” big addition of the offense, Mike Moustakas has been equally as valuable as Castellanos. Moose has slashed gone 5-for-16 with two homers, two walks, and four strikeouts as the Reds’ second baseman.

Reds roster


How many games will the Indians win?

This poll is closed

  • 31%
    (36 votes)
  • 44%
    (51 votes)
  • 23%
    (27 votes)
114 votes total Vote Now