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Series Preview: On to Cincinnati...

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MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at New York Mets Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates, mired in an eight-game losing streak, continue their road trip as they travel to Cincinnati to take on the Reds. For some time, the two teams were struggling to stay one step ahead of the other and out of last place. As it stands now, Pittsburgh is firmly entrenched in the cellar.

Anything less than a strong showing this series series (*ahem* SWEEP) will be a disappointment. If it all goes bad, the Pirates will be flirting with the worst record in the National League.

The Reds are .500 through their last ten games while the Pirates are 1-9. Cincinnati is the only team in baseball with a losing record but a positive run differential.

Pittsburgh is nine games below .500 when playing on the road and 19-27 in the National League Central. Cincinnati is 22-27 vs. their division and two games over .500 at home.

Schedule

Monday, 7:10 p.m — Jordan Lyles (5-7, 5.36 ERA) vs. Sonny Gray (5-6, 3.29 ERA)
TV: AT&T SportsNet-PIT

Tuesday, 7:10 p.m. — Joe Musgrove (7-9, 4.29 ERA) vs. Tanner Roark (6-6, 3.95 ERA)
TV: AT&T SportsNet-PIT

Wednesday, 12:35 p.m. — Dario Agrazal (2-1, 3.24 ERA) vs. Luis Castillo (9-4, 2.71 ERA)
TV: AT&T SportsNet-PIT

All games EST

REDS NOTES

Offense

-Josh VanMeter is hot right now, hitting .522 with four home runs and six RBIs (26 PA). He’s also walking at a rate of 11.5%.

-Eugenio Suarez and Jesse Winker have been major producers in the Reds’ lineup, with wRC+ marks of 193 and 155, respectively. Saurez (like VanMeter) has four home runs with nine RBIs. Winker has been getting on base at an OBP clip of .433.

-Yasiel Puig is mired in a nine-game slump, hitting just .212. His K-rate of 21.6% is somewhat offset by his 10.8% walk rate but he’s producing just a 60 wRC+ through his last 37 plate appearances.

Pitching

- Sonny Gray starts the three-game series for the Reds. Gray hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs since his June 21st start against the Brewers in Milwaukee. Through his last five starts, Gray has struck out 42 hitters and surrendered only seven walks in 33.1 innings pitched. This will his fourth start against the Pirates in 2019. Gray is 1-2 in 15.1 innings pitched and has allowed 4 earned runs off 13 hits with 14 strikeouts and six walks.

-Tanner Roark last faced the Pirates back on April 6th. He went five innings allowing three earned runs on seven hits with a 2-1 K/BB-rate. Roark has yeilded at least one earned run in every start since June 1st, with four of those starts ending with at least four runs allowed. His last two outings (vs Milwaukee and St. Louis) were considered quality starts. Roark has given up seven home runs this month (four starts).

-Staff ace and one of the best pitchers in baseball, Luis Castillo, closes out the series on Wednesday. He’s been dominant for the majority of the season but has had some bumpy starts. His last outing against the Rockies (in Cincinnati) saw him give up six earned runs in five innings. That’s more than he allowed through his previous four starts combined. Castillo will rack up the Ks but can lose his command from time to time, which results in hard contact or free passes. This will be his third time facing the Pirates this year (both previous starts were no decisions) and so far he’s thrown 11 innings and allowed two earned runs (four total) on eight hits with 12 strikeouts and seven walks.

Tonight’s first pitch is scheduled for 7:10 EST on ATT SportsNet-PIT.