Previewing the Texas Rangers' eighth series of the season: Cincinnati Reds

Oakland Athletics v Texas Rangers
Oakland Athletics v Texas Rangers / Tom Pennington/GettyImages

The AL West leading Texas Rangers (14 - 7) have a full schedule this week. They will start the week in Cincinnati as they take on the Reds for three games. Then the Rangers will travel back home and host the New York Yankees for a four-game series starting on Thursday.

Texas Rangers will look to continue winning ways against stumbling Cincinnati Reds

Cincinnati has a record of 7 - 15 and has lost their last six contests, but they do boast a 6 - 6 record at home. The Reds are still in the middle of some rebuilding, but they are a better team than their win loss record indicates. Pittsburgh swept the Reds in a four-game series over the long weekend. Even though the Reds lost all four games, they only allowed 12 runs in those four games. The bad part for the Reds was that they only scored six runs offensively.

Date and Time

Rangers Probable Starter

Reds Probable Starter

Mon 24th - 5:40 CT

Nathan Eovaldi - RHP 2-2, 5.40 ERA, 24 SO

Nick Lodolo - LHP 2-1, 4.98 ERA, 31 SO

Tues 25th - 5:40 CT

Martin Perez - LHP 3-1, 3.38 ERA, 19 SO

Luke Weaver - RHP 0-1, 6.00 ERA, 8 SO

Wed 26th - 11:35 CT

Jon Gray - RHP 1-1, 3.72 ERA, 15 SO

Graham Ashcraft - RHP 2-0, 1.88 ERA, 21 SO

Part of the rebuild that the Reds have been working on, has been a concentrated effort to draft and develope young starting pitching. The Rangers will be seeing two of the Reds top three pitchers during the series. They will miss perhaps the most widely known of the three, Hunter Greene, as he last pitched on Sunday. Greene recently just signed a long-term extension for six years and $53 million. Rumors are that the Reds are in deep talks with both Nick Lodolo and Graham Ashcraft and are looking to lock up the young pitchers as well.

In game one, on Monday night, the Rangers will square off against the 6'6" 216-pound lefty out of TCU, Lodolo. He was roughed up in his last start by the on-fire Tampa Bay Rays which has led to some inflated numbers for the 25-year-old hurler, but don't let one bad start fool you. Lodolo has a unique delivery and creates lots of swing and miss. He has recorded 31 strikeouts through just 21.2. innings of work. Lodolo keeps opponents on their toes, as he is prone to pitch inside and isn't scared to hit a batter. In fact, he is leading the National League with three batters hit this year and he led all of baseball in 2022 with 19 hit batsmen. If I was Josh Smith, who leads MLP with most times being hit by a pitch this year with six, I might ask for the day off or feign an upset stomach.

On Wednesday afternoon, in the getaway game, the Rangers will have their toughest matchup on paper as they go up against Ashcraft. In four starts and across 24 innings pitched, Ashcraft is 2 - 0, with 21 strikeouts, 1.88 ERA, and a 1.167 WHIP. He is a three-pitch pitcher and relies heavily on his 96 plus mph cutter and 88 mph slider, while he will work in a 97mph sinker as well. Ashcraft has walked more than his fair share this season. If the Rangers can take advantage of some free passes, that might go a long way to helping out the cause.

David Bell is starting his fifth season as the Cincinnati Reds manager. Bell grew up in Cincinnati and his dad, Texas Rangers' legend Buddy Bell is currently the VP, Sr. Advisor to the GM for the Reds organization. The Bell family legacy runs deep in Cincinnati. Patriarch, Gus Bell, David's grandfather, played nine seasons for the Reds and is also a member of the Reds Hall of Fame. Buddy played parts of four seasons for the club in the mid to late 80's.

Many baseball fans know the park factor that is associated with playing in Colorado with the light air that comes from playing a mile above sea level. What some don't realize is that Great American Ball Park, in Cincinnati, is the easiest MLB stadium to hit homeruns. It also ranks just below Coors Field in terms of overall park factor, making it an extremely hitter friendly ballpark. Basically, pitcher beware! Keeping the ball on the ground will be paramount for the Rangers pitching staff, if they are to take their fifth series win in a row.

The last time that the Rangers played the Reds, was back in 2019. That year, the Rangers won the series 2 - 1 and I am sure that manager Bruce Bochy would take that outcome yet again.