Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Lester looks to keep cruising in Cincinnati

The Reds were able to score five runs off Jake Arrieta in Monday night's series opener, but they could have their hands full with Cubs starter Jon Lester on Tuesday night at Great American Ball Park.
Lester is having one of the best seasons of his career, posting a 2.10 ERA over 15 starts. The veteran has 13 quality starts, including six straight. In those six starts, Lester has a 1.45 ERA and is averaging more than seven innings per start.
Lester made a pair of starts against the Reds in April, pitching 13 innings with four runs allowed and nine strikeouts.
The Reds have their own lefty on the mound against Lester, with John Lamb making his 11th start of the season. Lamb (1-4, 5.28 ERA) put together a pair of consecutive seven-inning quality starts to kick off June for the Reds, but he has since been unable to make it through the sixth in three starts, posting a 4.91 ERA over that span.
Things to know about this game
• A few Reds hitters have found success against Lester over their careers. Billy Hamilton has had his number in his seven at-bats, hitting .714 with a homer and a 1.286 slugging percentage. Jay Bruce, on the other hand, has struggled with the lefty, picking up three hits in 18 at-bats with four strikeouts.
• Tuesday could offer good opportunities for David Ross and Javier Baez. Baez leads all Cubs hitters with at least 10 at-bats against left-handed pitching this season, hitting .356 with six extra base hits in 45 at-bats vs. southpaws. Ross, who catches all of Lester's starts, is hitting .353 against lefties, with four homers and 11 RBIs in 34 at-bats.
• Brandon Phillips is expected to return to the lineup Tuesday after receiving a day off Monday. As the Reds try to find playing time for rookie Jose Peraza, Phillips is in the midst of a 7-for-40 stretch with five strikeouts over his last nine games. Phillips is a career .333 hitter against Lester in 18 at-bats.

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