PIRATES (26-26) AT REDS (25-29)
6:40 p.m. ET; FS-O, ATTSN-PT, MLB.TV
The Pittsburgh Pirates still have a lot to prove this season, both as a team and for a big chunk of their young roster.
They’ll get another chance on Tuesday night in the third game of a four-game series at Cincinnati.
The Pirates split a doubleheader with the Reds on Monday, providing a long evaluation of certain players as well as a first look at others.
“People talk about opportunities, and there have been opportunities all over the place for our players,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told reporters before the doubleheader. “You either move upon them or you don’t.”
Bryan Reynolds and Kevin Newman have taken advantage of their opportunities this spring.
Reynolds was called up from Triple-A Indianapolis on April 20 and has since become a permanent part of the lineup.
The rookie left fielder had a tiebreaking two-run triple in the eighth inning to give the Pirates the lead for good in the first game of the doubleheader, an 8-5 Pittsburgh win. He went 2-for-4 with a run scored in the second game, an 8-1 loss, raising his batting average to .320.
Newman, an infielder, batted .209 in 31 games as a rookie with the Pirates last season. He made the team as a utility player this season but then missed 20 games after sustaining a cut finger while setting up a pitching machine.
Newman returned on May 4 and has taken advantage of his increased opportunities, hitting .351 in 57 at-bats this month.
Jung Ho Kang was the Opening Day starter at third base for the Pirates, but he hit .133 in 90 at-bats before he was sidelined with an oblique injury on May 11. Kang is close to returning, leaving some tough roster decisions to be made.
“Part of this game is always going to be results-oriented,” Hurdle said. “It needs to be.”
The Reds plan to summon Lucas Sims from Triple-A to make his season debut on the mound on Tuesday. Cincinnati needs a starter after Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray were used in the doubleheader.
Sims, 25, was a first-round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves in 2012. He was traded to Cincinnati last year in the deal that sent left fielder/first baseman Adam Duvall to the Braves.
Sims made a combined total of nine relief appearances for Atlanta and Cincinnati last season, producing a 7.47 ERA. He was 3-0 with a 4.06 ERA in nine starts for Louisville this season, racking up 63 strikeouts and 16 walks in 44 1/3 innings.
Veteran Jordan Lyles (5-1, 2.81 ERA) will start for the Pirates on Tuesday.
Pittsburgh has won eight of Lyle’s nine starts this season, including his latest outing, when he gave up a season-high six runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings against the visiting Colorado Rockies. He was credited with the win after the offense bailed him out in the 14-6 victory.
Lyles has held the opposition to one run or no runs in six of his other eight starts.
He threw five shutout innings against the visiting Reds in his season debut on April 4, improving to 4-1 in his career against Cincinnati with a 4.12 ERA in 15 games (eight starts).
Cincinnati first baseman Joey Votto has been swinging a hot bat lately, raising his average from .208 to .242 in a six-game hitting streak.
He went 3-for-5 in the first game of the doubleheader before sitting out the second. Votto is 12-for-27 (.444) in his past six games, including four straight multi-hit games.
Votto is also 7-for-16 (.438) off Lyles in his career with two doubles and two home runs. Votto has also walked six times against Lyles.
–Field Level Media