Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates Series Preview: Will Reds Get Back To Winning Ways?

The Reds had not lost a series in four straight series before dropping two of three games to the Milwaukee Brewers over the weekend.
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Carson Spiers (68) throws to the San Diego Padres as thunderstorms make their way to Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati Wednesday, May 22, 2024.
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Carson Spiers (68) throws to the San Diego Padres as thunderstorms make their way to Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati Wednesday, May 22, 2024. / Cara Owsley/The Enquirer / USA TODAY
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The Cincinnati Reds are set to face off against the Pittsburgh Pirates in a three-game series at PNC Park starting on Monday.

The Reds and Pirates both come into this series tied for third in the NL Central with a 34-37 record.

The Reds have managed a team OPS (On-Base Plus Slugging) of .680, while the Pirates are slightly behind with a .664 OPS. For context, the league average OPS sits at .700, highlighting the offensive struggles both teams have experienced.

For the Reds, Jeimer Candelario has been red hot at the plate as of late. He leads the team in OPS (.802), doubles (17), and is tied with Elly De La Cruz for the team lead in home runs with 12.

Left fielder Bryan Reynolds carries the load for the Pirates' offense, leading the team in OPS (.768), doubles (17), walks (29), and runs batted in (38). He is second on the team with nine home runs.

On the pitching front, the Reds have shown strength with a team ERA of 3.86, placing them 12th in Major League Baseball, whereas the Pirates' pitching staff, with a 4.06 ERA, ranks 19th, indicating slightly below-average performance.

On Monday, Carson Spiers will be making his first start of 2024 for Cincinnati. He has appeared in five games this year for the Reds, pitching to a 2.33 ERA. He has 15 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings pitched. His last time out, Spiers came on in relief of Frankie Montas. He threw 5 2/3 innings and didn't give up a run. He allowed four hits, one walk and finished with a career-high seven strikeouts.

Paul Skenes will get the ball for the Pirates. Skenes was the first overall selection in the 2023 Major League Baseball Draft. He has made six starts for the Pirates, tossing 33 1/3 innings with a 2.43 ERA. He has struck out 46 batters on the season. In his last start, Skenes got a standing ovation from the opposing fans in St. Louis. He threw 6 1/3 innings, didn't allow a run, gave up five hits, and struck out eight. He didn't walk a batter. The Pirates are 4-1 in games started by Skenes.

In game two of the series, the Reds will hand the ball to Nick Lodolo. The Reds have won four straight games started by Lodolo and are 8-2 on the season when he takes the mound. In his last start, Lodolo tossed six innings of two-run baseball against the Cleveland Guardians. He walked three and struck out six. Lodolo has a 2.93 ERA on the season, which leads all Reds' starters.

Bailey Falter will take the mound for the Pirates. Falter has thrown 72 1/3 innings on the season, striking out 49 batters to go along with a 3.86 ERA. The Pirates have lost in three straight games started by Falter. His last time out, he gave up eight hits and three runs in only four innings. He walked one batter and struck out five.

In the series finale, it will be Hunter Greene getting the ball for the Reds. Mitch Keller will be on the bump for the Pirates.

Greene has tossed 82 1/3 innings this season, posting a 3.61 ERA to go along with 89 strikeouts. He threw five innings, giving up two runs and three hits in his last start against the Brewers. He struggled with his command, walking five. He added five strikeouts. Greene has thrown over 100 pitches in six straight starts.

Keller has had a great season thus far with a 3.36 ERA in 85 2/3 innings pitched. In his last start, Keller faced the Cardinals, giving up four runs on eight hits in six innings. He struck out four and didn't walk a batter. The Pirates have won six of the last seven games Keller has started.

The Reds face off against the Pirates in game one of the series at 6:40 ET on Monday Night.

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Greg Kuffner

GREG KUFFNER