|Pitchers eye milestone wins in Reds-Marlins opener|
MIAMI -- Cincinnati Reds left-hander Cody Reed and Miami Marlins right-hander Jeff Brigham, both looking for their first win as a major league starter, will face each other on Thursday night at Marlins Park.
Brigham, 26, is 0-2 with a 7.36 ERA and will be making his third career start. He has already made a giant breakthrough just to get here.
Prior to this season, Brigham had never pitched above Class A. However, he dominated at Double-A Jacksonville this season, going 4-1 with a 1.18 ERA, and then produced a 5-2 record with a 3.44 ERA at Triple-A New Orleans before earning a promotion to the majors.
Brigham walked four batters and hit one in a shaky major league debut on Sept. 2 against the visiting Toronto Blue Jays. He allowed four hits and three runs in three innings.
"It was a big day for me and a learning experience," Brigham said. "My tempo was a little slow, and I left a lot of pitches up."
In his most recent start, Brigham made an improvement but still wasn't good enough to get a win, allowing three runs, five htis and one walk in 4 1/3 innings against the Mets on Sept. 13.
Meanwhile, Reed has a 1-10 career record with a 5.93 ERA since breaking into the majors in 2016. But he has improved each year after going 0-7 in 10 starts, with a 7.36 ERA, as a rookie in 2016. Last year, he pitched in 12 games, including 11 in relief, and went 1-1 with a 5.09 ERA.
Reed is 0-2 with a 4.32 in 15 games this season, including five starts. And he really made progress this past Saturday, pitching five scoreless innings against the Cubs in Chicago. He allowed two hits and two walks and struck out a career-high 10 batters.
"He's come a long way," Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart said of Reed. "He's matured a lot. (Saturday) was hopefully a springboard."
Certainly, 10 strikeouts in five innings may be a bit much to expect again. Yet, Reed has shown a fastball that has reached 96 mph, a strong slider that has become a weapon and a nasty changeup, and he exhibited all of that by striking out Cubs slugger Kris Bryant three times last Saturday.
Reed entered that Chicago game with an 0-9 record and an 8.01 ERA in 15 career starts, and he did not get a decision against the Cubs.
After a start against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the change in Reed began.
"Tucker sat me down," Reed said of his catcher. "He told me I was moving in the right direction. But I think I've had enough of those talks. Now is the time to just do it."
The Marlins (59-92), who lost 4-2 to the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night, had Wednesday off as they prepared for their final home series of the season.
Cincinnati (65-88) was held to just two hits -- both singles -- and lost on the road to the Milwaukee Brewers 7-0 on Wednesday. The Reds will be playing on much shorter rest compared to Miami.
By record, the Reds and Marlins are two of the three worst teams in that National League, which is why the significance of games like this one hinge on individual performances.
Aside from the pitchers, watch for Marlins first baseman/outfielder Peter O'Brien. In five starts with the Marlins, O'Brien has three homers and six RBIs.
On Cincinnati's side, all eyes will be on second baseman Scooter Gennett, who is hitting .317 and chasing Milwaukee center fielder Christian Yelich (.319) for the National League batting crown.