The Cincinnati Reds, who are suddenly looking like a good bet to clinch the second and final wild-card berth in the National League, are set to open a three-game series at the Miami Marlins on Friday night.
Cincinnati will start lefty Wade Miley (10-4, 2.88 ERA). Miley leads all Reds players with a 5.9 WAR (wins above replacement).
Miami will counter with rookie right-hander Zach Thompson (2-5, 2.97 ERA).
The Reds have won five of their past seven games, moving up the standings in the process.
“Hopefully,” Reds rookie second baseman Jonathan India said, “we can stay hot.”
Miley, who is 2-2 with a 1.86 ERA in six career starts against the Marlins, is one reason the Reds are so hot.
After all, the Reds have an impressive 15-8 record when Miley starts this year. In addition, Miley has won his past six decisions.
Miley, who has a 1.40 ERA in three career starts in Miami, relies primarily on a cutter in what has been a huge comeback season. Last year, he made just six appearances due to a shoulder injury, and he failed to win a single game (0-3, 5.65 ERA).
Thompson, meanwhile, is Miami’s forgotten starter. When analysts discuss the potential of the Marlins’ 2022 rotation, Thompson’s name is often left out.
Instead, Sandy Alcantara, Sixto Sanchez, Pablo Lopez, Trevor Rogers and Edward Cabrera are the young fireballers most likely mentioned.
But Thompson — who made his major league debut this year at age 27 — has been a pleasant surprise.
Then again, Thompson’s ERA has gotten worse each month, going from 1.50 in June to 3.05 in July and 4.26 in four July starts.
The Marlins have lost seven of their past eight games Thompson has started, and that includes a 7-4 defeat to the Reds this past Saturday.
In that game, Thompson allowed three hits, one walk and two runs in five innings. Miley pitched in that same game, and he left with a no-decision after allowing two runs in 4 2/3 innings.
The Marlins, however, might be without center fielder Lewis Brinson, who left Thursday’s 7-5 win over the Washington Nationals due to a sprained left thumb.
X-rays were negative, which was great news for Brinson, who suffered the injury when he collided with left fielder Bryan De La Cruz as both of them were chasing a shallow fly ball.
“It put a little bit of a scare in Brinson,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of the crash. “I’m sure he is relieved from the standpoint of the negative (X-ray).
“Day to day (on Brinson) — it depends on how he comes in (on Friday). We were just hoping it wasn’t something really bad.”
As for the hitters likely to play on Friday in this matchup, the Reds are led by sluggers such as Nick Castellanos, Joey Votto and India.
Castellanos, who has 24 homers and 72 RBIs, is leading the Reds with a .320 batting average. Votto leads Cincinnati in homers (28) and RBIs (82). India, a candidate for National League Rookie of the Year, has 17 homers and 59 RBIs.
Miami is led by first baseman Jesus Aguilar (22 homers, 89 RBIs) and red-hot rookie De La Cruz, who is batting .353 in 25 games.
–Field Level Media