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Series preview: Pirates head to Cincinnati for three games with Reds

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We’re heading to Cincinnati for three.

Pittsburgh Pirates v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Pittsburgh Pirates (1-2) vs. Cincinnati Reds (2-1), April 5-7, 2021

Location: Great American Ballpark, Cincinnati, OH

TV: AT&T Sports Pittsburgh

Radio: 93.7 The Fan

Reds SB Nation Site: Red Reporter


After a series with the rival Cubs to open the season, the Pirates visit another rival for another three-game set.

This time, the Cincinnati Reds are on deck and they’re looking to give the Pirates some trouble.

Here’s a look at what we can expect this week:

Projected Starters

Monday, 6:40 p.m. EST

J.T. Brubaker (1-3 with 4.94 ERA in 11 starts in 2020) vs. José De León (5 appearances with 18.00 ERA in 2020)

Tuesday, 6:40 p.m. EST

Trevor Cahill (1-2 with 3.24 ERA in 6 starts in 2020 with Giants) vs. Wade Miley (0-3 with 5.65 ERA in 4 starts in 2020)

Wednesday, 12:35 p.m. EST

Chad Kuhl (0-0, 3.00 ERA, 2 K) vs. Luis Castillo (0-1, 21.60 ERA, 0 K)

Projected Lineups

Pirates

  1. Adam Frazier (2B)
  2. Kevin Newman (SS)
  3. Bryan Reynolds (LF)
  4. Colin Moran (1B)
  5. Phillip Evans (3B)
  6. Gregory Polanco (RF)
  7. Jacob Stallings (C)
  8. Anthony Alford (CF)
  9. Starting Pitcher

Reds

  1. Jesse Winker (LF)
  2. Nick Castellanos (RF)
  3. Joey Votto (1B)
  4. Eugenio Suárez (SS)
  5. Mike Moustakas (3B)
  6. Nick Senzel (CF)
  7. Jonathan India (2B)
  8. Tucker Barnhart (C)
  9. Starting Pitcher

We spoke with Wick Terrell from our sister site Red Reporter to gain some insight before this week’s series and an understanding of the team’s storylines for the season. Here’s what he had to say.

1. What are the expectations for the Reds in 2021?

Wick Terrell: There are still enough solid pieces on the Reds roster to have an upside expectation of being in contention come trade season. Heck, this is a club that snuck into the expanded playoffs last year and did so despite the offense woefully underperforming expectations.

Is it a big ask? Probably, though at least most of the NL Central stayed quiet during the offseason, too. These Reds are worse on-paper than entering 2020, but at least there is reason enough to expect them to perform better relative to expectations than last year.

2. The team lost Trevor Bauer this offseason, but the starters are still really good. What can we expect from then this week?

Terrell: Good question! For this week in particular, the Reds rotation is without Trevor Bauer and Anthony DeSclafani from last year’s squad, while each of Sonny Gray and Michael Lorenzen are still out injured. On top of that, they’ll be leaning on Wade Miley again, and since he gave the Reds barely anything during a rough/injured 2020, we’re not exactly sure what to expect from him yet, either.

It’s an entirely overhauled rotation, albeit one that has a lot of arm talent still around. Jose De Leon looks fully healthy for the first time in a long time, and his upside is something of a wild card for this staff at the time. Basically, we’re all hoping pitching coach Derek Johnson and pitching guru Kyle Boddy can unearth a few other gems for the time being once again.

3. What is one thing that Pirates fans may be surprised about the Reds this year?

Terrell: Hellooo, infield overhaul! Joey Votto is still at 1B, but to his right and front things have seen a major shuffle. Eugenio Suarez has slid from 3B back to SS, Mike Moustakas slid from 2B back to 3B, and rookie Jonathan India has filled the void at 2B in that wake. Add-in that rookie Tyler Stephenson is getting regular reps behind the plate, and this is an infield that will be finagled in ways not familiar to any of us as the 2021 season begins.

Hopefully, it’s at least the best offensive alignment they can feature, as it sure does bring in numerous defensive question marks. I think the thought process is that shifting will help allay some of those fears, but there’s only one way to find out...