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Series Preview: Cincinnati Reds @ Milwaukee Brewers

Their Brewers get their first look at the supposed favorites for the NL Central

Cincinnati Reds v Cleveland Indians Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images

If there were two teams that were considered to be the Offseason World Series champions, it was the Chicago White Sox and the Cincinnati Reds.

After splitting a 4-game home-and-home with the White Sox, the Brewers are back at Miller Park tonight to start a three-game set against the trendy pick to win the NL Central that as of now is still in their familiar spot of 4th place in the division.

Old friend Mike Moustakas clubbed a couple home runs early in the new season, but has largely struggled outside of that, going 5-for-21 in 7 games. Eugenio Suarez is on a Yelich-like slump to start the year, going 4-for-44 in 13 games. Joey Votto isn’t hitting particularly well but is still drawing a ton of walks and has hit 3 homers. Nick Castellanos is one of the few offseason additions going well for the Reds right now, hitting a scorching-hot .333/.412/.800 with 6 home runs and 3 doubles accounting for 9 of his 15 hits.

Overall, though, the offense has been greatly disappointing to this point while they’ve been kept afloat by their pitching (sound familiar?). If it weren’t for having two or three of the best starting pitchers in baseball through the first couple weeks, things would be looking much worse than 5-8 for them.

Through their first baker’s dozen, Cincinnati has only scored 52 runs to 64 runs allowed, and they’ve struck out 149 times at the plate — just one behind league-leading Cleveland. Their .198 team batting average is third-worst in baseball.

Pitchers, Probably

Friday, August 7th - 7:10 p.m. CDT
Trevor Bauer vs. Eric Lauer

Saturday, August 8th - 6:10 p.m. CDT
Anthony DeSclafani vs. Brett Anderson

Sunday, August 9th - 1:10 p.m. CDT
Sonny Gray vs. Brandon Woodruff

Bauer got off to a rough start with the Reds after a deadline deal last year, but the free-agent-to-be has put together two impressive starts to begin this shortened season. He’s allowed just 1 run in 13.1 innings, and is coming off a 7-inning “complete game” shutout as part of a double header against the Tigers. He’s also shown much better control than he’s been known for, walking just 3 batters compared to 20 strikeouts. He may be insufferable, but he’s been pitching well.

DeSclafani made his season debut on Sunday, throwing 5 scoreless against Detroit. He held the Tigers to 3 hits and didn’t walk a batter. He’s coming off one of the best seasons (and a rare full season) in his injury-plagued career, putting up a 3.89 ERA in 31 starts, striking out a batter per inning.

Gray has also been spectacular to start the year, and may have a case as the best starter in the National League through his first 3 starts. He’s allowed just 2 runs in 18.2 innings for a decent 0.96 ERA and has struck out a league-leading 28. The only runs he’s allowed have come on a pair of solo home runs. In fun with small sample sizes, his ERA+ is currently 445.

As good as the rotation has been, the bullpen has been a bit of an issue for the Reds early this year. Closer Raisel Iglesias has allowed 4 runs (3 earned) in his first 4.1 innings, and Michael Lorenzen has allowed 6 runs in 4.1 innings. Luckily, the Brewers don’t have to worry about Lorenzen hitting against them anymore. Cody Reed (6 ER in 3.1 innings) and Jose De Leon (8 ER in 1.2 innings) also have some eye-popping ERA numbers early this year.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference