One of the most over used terms in sports is “this is the biggest game of the season.” I am as big of a culprit here as anybody, especially during this Cincinnati Reds playoff push. Generally, unless it is a true win-or-go-home game there will be a bigger one still to come. All that being said, today’s game is without a doubt the biggest Reds game since the 2013 Wild Card playoff game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
A win would give the Reds their fourth consecutive series victory and move them back above .500 and a game ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers in the playoff picture. It would also make the Reds 6-4 versus the Brewers this season which is important in the event of a tie between the two clubs.
Maintaining positive momentum, and getting a game advantage on the Brew Crew, will be crucial as Cincinnati heads to Minnesota to face the Twins. The Twins are currently just a half game back of the White Sox in the American League Central. Despite having a playoff spot clinched, the opportunity to win the division and improve their seeding will give the Twins plenty to play for in the final series of the 2020 season.
It’s Bauer Day!!!
Bauer Day. ? pic.twitter.com/fLC3eKEa06
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) September 23, 2020
The Reds will turn to National League Cy Young Candidate Trevor Bauer who will be pitching on three days rest. Bauer (4-4, 1.80) has lobbied to throw on short rest throughout his career and could potentially do so again on Sunday if need be in the Reds final game.
Despite his eagerness to pitch on three days rest, the result has never been all that favorable for Bauer. In his five career outings on short rest he has allowed 17 runs, 13 earned, in 18 innings. He has given up 26 hits as well. In no start did Bauer throw more than five innings and only once has he gone beyond four. So far this season his shortest outing has been six innings.
There is nobody in baseball who better prepares themselves to pitch than Trevor Bauer so there is no doubt he will be ready to compete today, but for the Reds to earn a much needed win he will need to be better than his track record has shown to expect on short rest.
Shogo Akiyama returns to the leadoff spot after not playing in last night’s game. Akiyama leads the Reds in batting average (.320) and on-base percentage (.477) in the month of September. He has reached base two or more times in 10 of his last 13 games.
Mike Moustakas is riding a four-game hitting streak with four doubles and five runs batted in during that short streak.
Despite going 8-2 over their last 10 games, the Reds still batted just .218 during that time. Their team batting average is last in Major League Baseball at .211.
The Brewers will send 27 year old right-hander Adrian Houser to the mound in tonight’s game. Houser, is 1-5 on the season with a 5.33 Earned Run Average. After beginning the season with two excellent starts, including seven inning gem that earned him his sole win over the Chicago White Sox. However, since then, he is 0-5 and has allowed 29 Earned Runs in 38 2/3 innings over his last eight starts.
Opponents are batting .286 this season against Houser.
In his lone start against Cincinnati this season, Houser allowed four runs on nine hits in four innings as the Reds won 6-1 in Game One of the 8/27 doubleheader.
Ryan Braun is absent from the Brewers lineup after beginning the series 0-7. Eric Sogard broke out of a long slump in last night’s 3-2 win with a pair of doubles including the go-ahead RBI in the seventh inning.
In the third and fourth spots in the lineup, Jedd Gyorko and Daniel Vogelbach are the only two Brewers to hit safely in each of the first two games of this series. Vogelbach is batting .395 since being claimed off of waivers on 9/3. He began the season 5-57 at the plate.
It sure is fun to be playing meaningful baseball in late September! Here are the other games that Reds fans should keep an eye on this evening.
Phillies (1 game back of Reds) @ Nationals
Marlins (0.5 game up on Reds) @ Braves
Cardinals (1 game up on Reds) @ Royals
Rockies @ Giants (tied with Reds)