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Game Thread: It’s Trevor time in Cincinnati

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Weather permitting, the Pittsburgh Pirates look to rebound from their Opening Day loss on Thursday as they are scheduled take on the Reds again at 2:10 pm Eastern, with Trevor Williams (14-10, 3.11 in 2018) takes on Sonny Gray (11-9, 4.90)

Gray, who was speculated as a potential Pirates acquisition over the winter, was obtained by the Reds from the Yankees as part of a three-way trade in late January that also involved the Seattle Mariners. One of the top starting pitchers in baseball, posting a 2.88 ERA in his first 74 career starts with the Oakland Athletics from 2013 to 2015, , Gray suffered through arm and shoulder ailments in 2016 and 2017, and seeing his ERA balloon to 4.59 over the last three years. He hasn’t seen a significant loss of velocity, with his fastball averaging within half a mile an hour of 93 both before and after, and he’s had an uptick in his strikeout rate, but that’s also come with higher walk and homerun rates. 1.1 homers per 9 innings over the last three years in the Oakland Coliseum and Yankee Stadium may not bode well for the Great American Band Box in Cincinnati.

Gray mixes in his two and four seam fastballs nearly an equal amount, totaling 58% of his pitches, then using a curve 20% of the time and a slider 13%. In each of the last four season’s he shown a reverse split, pitching better to left-handed batters than right. In 2018 right-handers collectively hit for a .808 OPS against Gray, with a 284/356/451 batting line, while left-handers had a .725 OPS (255/342/383)

In response, Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle has posted a lineup with four batters who’ll swing from the left side against Gray (Adam Frazier, Corey Dickerson, Josh Bell and Melky Cabrera.) Starling Marte returns to the lineup, batting second, after missing Thursday game with a migraine, thus pushing J.B. Shuck back to the bench.

The Pirates’ starting pitcher Trevor Williams will try to build upon his studly 2018 season, in which he didn’t allow a run in 11 of his 31 starts. In his last 13 starts, starting July 11, he allowed one run or fewer 11 times, giving him a 1.29 ERA over that stretch. Williams also showed a slightly reverse split in 2018, allowing a .681 OPS to right-handed batters and .637 to lefties, but over his career there’s barely any difference between the two.

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PIRATES

1 L Adam Frazier 2B

2 R Staring Marte CF

3 L Cory Dickerson LF

4 S Josh Bell 1B

5 R Francisco Cervelli C

6 R Jung-ho Kang 3B

7 S Melky Cabrera RF

8 R Erik Gonzalez SS

9 R Trevor Williams RHP

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REDS

1 L Scott Schebler CF

2 L Joey Votto 1B

3 R Yasiel Puig RF

4 R Eugenio Suarez 3B

5 R Matt Kemp LF

6 R Jose Peraza 2B

7 L Tucker Barnhart C

8 R Jose Iglesias SS

9 R Sonny Gray RHP