The teams have pretty comparable offenses but Pittsburgh’s starting rotation is much better. Add in the home field advantage and the Pirates won’t be happy with anything less than a pair of wins in this three-game set.
Cincinnati Reds vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
Dates: Tuesday, August 1, 2017 – Thursday, August 3, 2017
Location: PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
The Pirates are 51-54 on the season and 5.5 games behind the Cubs. The wild card is unrealistic, and even the N.L. Central will be hard to win because Chicago is playing well and has much more talent. Nonetheless, Pittsburgh will aim to stay in the race now that it didn’t trade off its key players at the trading deadline.
The Reds started the season reasonably well and have some intriguing pieces in the lineup, but the starting pitching is a mess. Cincinnati has cycled through plenty of arms but few players seem capable of locking down a rotation spot for any length of time. There could be some high-scoring games in this series because of the lack of top-end arm talent on the mound.
Game 1 Probable Pitchers – Tuesday, August 1, 2017, 7:05 p.m. ET (Local TV)
Jameson Taillon (Pirates) vs. Homer Bailey (Reds)
Taillon missed several weeks this season after undergoing surgery for testicular cancer but had been solid overall until a disastrous outing in his last start. The right-hander was roughed up for nine earned runs in three innings of work against the Giants as his ERA ballooned by nearly a run. He is now 6-4 with a 4.03 ERA on the season, solid numbers but no longer great ones like before the outing.
Bailey is 2-5 with an 8.37 ERA on the season. He has fought injuries throughout his career and has never delivered on the promise of when he was a top prospect. Bailey has been battered for a .366 batting average against in his seven starts and has a WHIP of 2.01. The sample isn’t huge but the returns are not encouraging.
Game 2 Probable Pitchers – Wednesday, August 2, 2017, 7:05 p.m. ET (Local TV)
Trevor Williams (Pirates) vs. Robert Stephenson (Reds)
Williams is 4-4 this year with a 4.53 ERA. He isn’t a big-time strikeout guy but his control has been good this year. Williams gave up just one earned run in six innings last time out against San Francisco but is facing a tougher lineup in this one.
Stephenson is another struggling Cincinnati starter. He is 0-4 with a 7.86 ERA on the year. He has allowed 14 earned runs in his past three outings and the Pirates bats will be excited to tee off on him. Stephenson has an awful strikeout-to-walk ratio and should not be starting in the big leagues.
Game 3 Probable Pitchers – Thursday, August 3, 2017, 7:05 p.m. ET (Local TV)
Chad Kuhl (Pirates) vs. Sal Romano (Reds)
Kuhl is 3-7 with a 4.84 ERA this season. He has a 1.49 WHIP and has had some control issues. The Reds pack a big punch in the middle of their lineup, and if Kuhl gives up too many free passes, it could bite him as Cincinnati can score runs in bunches.
Romano is 2-2 on the year with a 4.57 ERA in five starts. He is striking out more than a batter per inning thus far but has also walked entirely too many batters. He has done a good job of getting batters out, but his peripheral numbers suggest Romano is playing with fire. If he doesn’t stop walking batters eventually it will catch up to him, and that could be as soon as this series against the Pirates.