When and where: September 17, 2019, Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL, 8:00 PM ET
A series-opening shellacking at the hands of the Chicago Cubs has the Cincinnati Reds desperate for a turnaround performance, when the two NL Central teams collide on Tuesday. The Reds were riding a tidal wave of momentum after a couple of surprise upset wins over the Arizona Diamondbacks, while the Cubs extended their winning streak to five games. The Cubs are coming off wins over the Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates and San Diego Padres. Cincinnati’s Sony Gray is slated to start at pitcher opposite of Chicago’s veteran righty Yu Darvish.
Votto sits out the series opener for the Reds
Reds manager David Bell better not see Joey Votto anywhere near the rest of the team until he shakes whatever sickness bug he’s carrying. The first baseman didn’t play in Sunday’s series finale against the Diamondbacks, and he was also a scratch from Monday’s series opener against the Cubs. According to Bell, the sickness has infiltrated the clubhouse as it often does around this time of the year.
“We’ve had quite a few guys that have been run down,” Bell said, via Cincinnati.com. “It’s stuff that happens during every season and every team is probably dealing with the same stuff, but it got us pretty good.”
There’s a possibility Votto misses Tuesday’s game as well.
The Reds will need all the help they can get on the road against the Cubs. Their defense was impressive in putting the Diamondbacks’ batting lineup under lock and key over the weekend. It was so impressive that the Reds actually managed to come away with the upset win and improved their record to 70-80 on the season.
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Gray will lend his arm in an attempt to pull off another upset when taking the mound against the Cubs. The 29-year-old Nashville native is throwing a 2.80 ERA with 190 strikeouts and a 10-7 record. He is coming off his first loss in nearly two months to the Seattle Mariners in a game where he gave up two hits and three runs in six-plus innings.
Rizzo could be done for the year
The Reds aren’t the only team that started this series without their first baseman in the lineup.
Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo could potentially miss the rest of the season after going down with an ankle injury in Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. According to ESPN.com, he was diagnosed with a lateral right ankle sprain after undergoing an MRI scan on Monday. He is expected to wear a walking boot for up to a week before being evaluated again.
“I have every intention of doing everything I can with the training staff to be back on the field with the boys,” said Rizzo. “I think in a few days, really, will tell us a lot more.”
A combination of Ian Happ and Victor Caratini will be used to attempt to replace Rizzo.
The Cubs have won their last five consecutive games, including their recent three-game sweep over the Pirates. It was a slaughter series as they heaped 14-plus runs on their division rivals in all three games. The Cubs are right behind the leading Washington Nationals in the wild card race with an 81-68 record on the season, and they are also a couple games out from challenging the St. Louis Cardinals for the NL Central divisional title.
Darvish will get the nod to start at pitcher for the Cubs on Tuesday. The 33-year-old righty hasn’t given up a single run in his last two games against the San Diego Padres and Milwaukee Brewers. He appears to be heating up at the right time as the Cubs make their final playoff push. His ERA currently sits at a 3.97 with a 1.11 WHIP and a 6-6 record.
- Reds are 3-7 in their last 10 road games against a team with a winning record.
- Reds are 1-5 in their last 6 road games against a team with a home winning % of greater than .600.
- Reds are 1-7 in their last 8 games against teams in the National League Central.
- Reds are 0-5 in their last 5 during game 2 of a series.
- Cubs are 38-14 in their last 52 home games against a right-handed starter.
- Cubs are 19-7 in their last 26 against a team with a losing record.
- Cubs are 69-30 in their last 99 home games against a team with a losing road record.
- Cubs are 46-21 in their last 67 home games.