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Guardians bring their secret weapon to the Battle of Ohio

The Battle of Ohio has some fresh faces this year

MLB: APR 10 Guardians at Royals Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The coveted Ohio Cup hangs in the balance between the Cleveland Guardians and Cincinnati Reds, who prepare to do battle in the fields of Great American Ballpark over the next two days.

The Reds had the unfortunate distinction of starting 2022 against last year’s champion Braves. They split the two-game series, including a 6-3 win in the finale Sunday. Rookie pitcher Hunter Greene began his career with a win, lasting five innings and striking out seven on Sunday. The Guardians will avoid the triple-digit flamethrower, luckily, and will instead be facing Tyle Mahle and most likely Nick Lodolo.

Despite some talent left on the team such as Jonathan India, Tommy Pham, and an aging (but still very good) Joey Votto, the Reds are a team in the beginning stages of a teardown and rebuild. FanGraphs projects them to finish 75-87 this season and they are a long way from the team that spent almost $170 two offseasons ago. They spent the last several weeks post-lockout dealing away the likes of Sonny Gray, Amir Garrett, and Jesse Winker. Shogo Akiyama, part of that 2020 spending spree, was quietly released after two disappointing seasons.

None of this is to say the Guardians can take them lightly. India is legit (projected by Steamer to be worth 3.3 fWAR in 2022), and Votto refuses to age. The Reds are paper-thin as they begin their rebuild, but the Guards aren’t exactly bursting with talent either when you look past the top names.

And, don’t forget, the Reds also have Tyler Naquin. If any Guardians pitchers forgot to read their scouting report and start throwing him low pitches — look out. He could be trouble.

For Cleveland, their hope will be that Steven Kwan continues to be absolutely lights out. Maybe he’ll swing and miss on a pitch eventually, but when he does José Ramírez will be there to back him up. Maybe in such a home run-friendly ballpark Franmil Reyes can get going as well.

Light rain could interfere with Tuesday’s game, but Wednesday has a real chance of some showers during its 12:35 p.m. start.

Team at a glance

  • Record: 2-2 (7th in NL)
  • Runs Scored: 19 (6th in NL)
  • Run Differential: +4 (6th in NL)
  • Last 10: 2-2
  • Slash: .200/.274/.269
  • wOBA: .253 (14th in NL)
  • wRC+: 59 (14th in NL)
  • ERA: 3.71 (9th in NL)
  • SIERA: 3.75 (9th in NL)
  • K-BB%: 13.7% (9th in NL)

Projected starters

Tuesday, April 12, 4:10 p.m. ET: RHP Tyler Mahle vs. Shane Bieber
Wednesday, April 13, 12:35 p.m. ET: TBD (LHP Nick Lodolo) vs. Triston McKenzie

Wednesday will mark Triston McKenzie’s first start of the year after he came out of the bullpen to back up Shane Bieber on Opening Day.

Look for Tyle Mahle to throw fastballs — a lot of them. Last season he threw his 94 mph four-seamer 53% of the time, followed by an 86.7 mph slider 26.7% of the time and the occasional splitter and cutter.

If Nick Lodolo does get the start Wednesday as expected, it will be his MLB debut. The seventh-overall pick of the 2019 draft, Lodolo features a well-regarded slider, fastball, and changeup combination. Lodolo struck out 39.3% of Double-A batters he faced last year compared to a 5.2% walk rate. FanGraphs ranked him as the Reds’ No. 2 prospect heading into 2022 after shoulder injuries shortened his 2021 campaign.

Hot hitters

Kyle Farmer, SS - In the uber small sample size of four games, Farmer leads the Reds in hits with five. He also has a stolen base, a walk, and he’s struck out three times. He is not a hard-hitter by any means, but so far the base hits have fallen for the 31-year-old.

Jonathan India, 2B - The definition of “hot” drops off pretty quick here, but India is second on the Reds with four hits to go along with his four strikeouts. He’ll probably start making better contact soon, hopefully just not in the next two days.

Roster

Poll

How many games will the Guardians win against the Reds?

This poll is closed

  • 51%
    2
    (58 votes)
  • 44%
    1
    (50 votes)
  • 4%
    0
    (5 votes)
113 votes total Vote Now