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Game Thread: Could it be a sweep as Musgrove faces Reds

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MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Arizona Diamondbacks Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

To sweep or not to sweep, that is the question? After losing something like eight straight series, the Pirates, behind Joe Musgrove are poised to take all three in a weekend with the Reds, who counter with right-hander Anthony DeSclafani.

The 28 year old DeSclafani is in his third season with the Reds after debuting with the Marlins in 2014. After turning in a 4.05 ERA in 31 starts for Cincinnati in 2015, he’s had trouble staying on the field since. His 2016 season didn’t start until June 11 after straining his right oblique. After a fine 20 starts with a 3.28 ERA he then started 2017 with Tommy John surgery, seeing only three late season rehab appearances. Poised to return this spring, he hit the 60 day DL for the third straight season, this time for a left oblique strain. Today will be his third start for the Reds after four rehab appearances.

Owner of a 4.03 career ERA, along with 2.4 walks and 7.5 strikeouts per 9 innings in those 58 starts, DeSclafani has been hit hard so far, allowing 16 hits over 10 innings in his two starts. His fastball is still coming in at 92.9 mph, the same speed as 2016 and a bit above the two years before that. In his pair of 2018 appearances, he’s thrown his four-seam fastball 39% of the time, two-seamer 27%, slider 28% and change 5%.

Musgrove will make his fifth start after returning from early season shoulder discomfort, three times allowing two or fewer runs in sic or more innings, with a total of 4 walks and 23 strikeouts in his 25 innings.

The Reds’ lineup has Curt Casali spelling Tucker Barnhart at catcher and Adam Duvall returning to left field in place of Jessie Winker, along with the pitcher continuing to bat eighth in front of center fielder Billy Hamilton.

The Pirates’ only meaningful change is for Starling Marte to take his turn sitting in favor of rookie Austin Meadows, who’ll play center field while Francisco Cervelli returns after a one day break and will bat third in Marte’s stead.

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REDS

1 L Scott Schebler RF

2 R Jose Peraza SS

3 L Joey Votto 1B

4 L Scooter Gennett 2B

5 R Eugenio Suarez 3B

6 R Adam Duvall LF

7 R Curt Casali C

8 R Anthony DeSclafani RHP

9 S Billy Hamilton CF

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PIRATES

1 R Josh Harrison 2B

2 L Austin Meadows CF

3 R Francisco Cervelli C

4 L Colin Moran 3B

5 L Corey Dickerson LF

6 S Josh Bell 1B

7 L Gregory Polanco RF

8 R Jordy Mercer SS

9 R Joe Musgrove RHP