It took a late run, but the Cincinnati Reds made the playoffs as the no. 7 seed in the National League. They will take on the no. 2 seeded Atlanta Braves in the Wild Card Round in a best of three series. Here is a preview of the series.
The Game 1 starters will be Cy Young contenders. Trevor Bauer will take the mound for the Reds. He leads the NL in ERA (1.73), WHIP (0.795), H/9 (5.055) and puts an incredible amount of spin on his pitches. The Reds will need Bauer to be lights out in this game because the Braves have a very good offense.
Max Fried will be on the hill for Braves after going 7-0 this season. He leads the NL in WAR for pitchers at 2.9. The Braves are going to want to win with Fried on the mound, because the rest of their rotation is suspect.
The Braves have the highest batting average in the NL this season. If they can get to Bauer early, it can really change the tide of the series. On the other side, the Reds hit an NL-low .212 this season, so any pitching-duel likely favors Cincinnati.
For Game 2, Luis Castillo gets the ball for the Reds. He is 4-6 with a 3.21 ERA. Although he had a losing record, he suffered from poor run support. He had five starts in the month of September and only gave up eight runs in 32.2 innings pitched. His changeup is one of the best pitches in baseball and helps him get a lot of strikeouts and groundouts.
Ian Anderson will be the Braves’ starter for the second game of the series. The rookie has only started six games this season, but has pitched well. He has a 3-2 record with a 1.95 ERA. Anderson has 41 strikeouts in 32.1 innings pitched and will be looking to get a lot of swings and misses. His inexperience may come into play against some of the Reds’ veterans hitters.
If Anderson can pitch as well as he did this regular season, it will be another pitcher’s duel. Castillo’s changeup will be a key against Braves’ hitters, especially the left-handers.
If this series goes to three games, the Reds have the distinct advantage over the Braves. Sonny Gray has struggled and dealt with injuries recently, but has still had a solid season. He has a 5-3 record with a 3.70 ERA. His breaking stuff leaves hitters swinging and missing a lot.
Kyle Wright is the projected starter for the Braves. He has a 2-4 record with a 5.21 ERA. The Braves will need to have their bullpen ready to go if the series goes into a third game, as Wright hasn’t been consistent enough to trust this season.
For the Braves, they will be hoping they can wrap the series up in two games. The pitching matchups favor the Reds, but that is incredibly true for Game 3.
Key Hitters to Watch
- Freddie Freeman– Freeman had an incredible season at the plate. He batted .341, scored 51 runs and led the league with 23 doubles.
- Ronald Acuna- Acuna is a young star. He batted .250, had 14 home runs and had an OBP of .406. At some point in this series he will have a big at-bat and will need to come through for the Braves.
- Joey Votto– The only player still on the Reds from the last time they made the postseason is Votto. He started the season slowly, but did do better near the end of the year. He hit just .226, but had an OBP of .354.
- Eugenio Suarez– There were a lot of unlucky hitters on the Reds this season and Suarez was one of them. He hit just .202 with 15 home runs. This comes a year after batting .271 with 47 home runs. If the Reds are going to win, they need both Votto and Suarez to step up.
The pitching for the Reds will be too good in this series. If they can just play decently on offense, they will be able to hit the Braves well. Cincinnati might be the road team for the series, but they will be hard to hit. A few good at-bats from the Reds and they can win the series.
Reds win 2-1
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