The first-place Reds have won 20-of-22 and have a 3-1/2 game lead on the Buccos, who face their first meaningful match against Cincy since the Big Red Machine days. Of course, it's not must win; very few August series are. But 2 out of 3 would sure keep things interesting.
The Reds are without Joey Votto and Johnny Cueto, who will miss the series since he worked yesterday. They did add Jonathan Broxton to bolster the back end of their bullpen. The Bucs are healthy and have their August reinforcements aboard with Wandy, Travis Snyder, Gaby Sanchez and Chad Qualls. It'll be interesting to see what they bring to the table.
The lineup: Starling Marte LF, Travis Snider RF, Andrew McCutchen CF, Garrett Jones 1B, Neil Walker 2B, Pedro Alvarez 3B, Rod Barajas C, Clint Barmes SS, Wandy Rodriguez P.
- Clint Hurdle may say it's another series, but he did kick Erik Bedard back a day to bump AJ Burnett up to work Sunday's series closer. He is doing a nice job of shielding his team from their first real blast of pennant-race pressure, even as the fans here are about ready to self detonate in anticipation of the three game set.
- Michael Barr of Fangraphs posted "Pedro Alvarez More Than Platoon Option?"
- Baseball America's Prospect Hot Sheet has pieces on Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon while Jeff Locke and Gregory Polanco are included "In The Team Photo."