Two familiar foes will be seeing a lot of each other in the next two days as the Pittsburgh Pirates and host Cincinnati Reds play three games in 24 hours, starting with a day-night doubleheader on Tuesday.
The Reds will send right-hander Luis Cessa (3-2, 4.97 ERA) to the mound to start Game 1. Cessa will be making his sixth start of the season and the 25th start of his seven-year career.
This will be his fourth appearance of the season and first career start vs. the Pirates. He is 1-0 with a 0.96 ERA in seven all-time outings vs. Pittsburgh.
In a 4-3 road win over the Chicago Cubs on Thursday, Cessa did not allow a hit until Nico Hoerner led off the fifth inning with a triple. Cessa reached a career milestone when he recorded his 300th career strikeout. Cessa struck out a career-high eight batters while walking none over 5 2/3 innings of two-run ball.
The Reds were undecided on the starter for Game 2, but it might be right-hander Raynel Espinal, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Louisville on Monday. His lone career major league appearance came for the Boston Red Sox on Aug. 30, 2021, when he gave up two runs in two innings against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Pirates right-hander Johan Oviedo (2-2, 3.90 ERA) will start the opener on Tuesday. He will be making his third start since joining the franchise in the Jose Quintana trade with the St. Louis Cardinals last month and then getting called up earlier this month.
Oviedo, 24, took a loss in his latest outing, on Wednesday against the New York Mets, after allowing four runs on one hit with five walks and two strikeouts in only 1 2/3 innings.
Oviedo did not factor in the decision in his Pirates debut on Sept. 2 vs. the Blue Jays after throwing three scoreless frames, striking out four and walking three.
Luis Ortiz, a 23-year-old right-hander, will make his major league debut for the Pirates in the nightcap. He had his contract selected from Triple-A Indianapolis on Monday. Ortiz is ranked second among all Pirates minor-leaguers in strikeouts (138 in 124 1/3 innings).
While it won’t be during the doubleheader, Reds starting pitcher Hunter Greene is ready to resume his rookie season and finish the year with the major league club in the rotation. Greene, working his way back from a strained right shoulder, completed a three-start rehab assignment on Sunday with Louisville.
“Going in, my biggest priority is making sure that I’m healthy,” Greene said. “I definitely had a focus on working on all my pitches and making sure those are tight so when I get back here, I feel like I haven’t skipped a beat. I’m happy where I am and I’m looking forward to finishing the season strong.”
Greene, 23, is expected to be activated from the injured list to pitch in the upcoming series against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. The Reds could use the help, as they will be playing a five-game series in four days beginning Thursday.
Pirates rookie Oneil Cruz, a left-handed hitting shortstop, received the night off from the starting lineup Monday as lefty Mike Minor started for the Reds.
Still, Cruz continues to show promise for the Pirates since a move to the leadoff spot in the order. He has three homers in his past seven games, all coming in the No. 1 position in the order. Overall, Cruz has 14 homers and 44 RBIs in just 67 games.
“It helps me out a lot, and I’m enjoying it because I’m used to it,” Cruz said of hitting leadoff. “Over there in Triple-A, I was already getting familiar with being the first hitter.
“For me, either I’m going to swing early at the best pitch I could see or get, or two, I’m going to try to get that pitcher as far as I can so either I can get walked and also help the guy on deck get better pitch selection, as well, and see better pitches.”
–Field Level Media