How the Cincinnati Reds starting rotation looks in NL Wild card race

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Vladimir Gutierrez (53) delivers in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers, Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.

When Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Vladimir Gutierrez was 18 years old, he pitched in a World Cup-style tournament in Cuba. In the highest-pressure situation of his young baseball career, Gutierrez won the game.

“From there on out, I never really thought of any playoff things,” Gutierrez said via interpreter Jorge Merlos. “For me, it’s that I have that confidence and I’m going to continue with that confidence throughout the rest of the time and the rest of this playoff run as well.”

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Down to the fifth starter, the Reds starting rotation has a staff of pitchers with experience in meaningful games.

Since May, the Reds starting rotation has been intact and mostly followed the same order. The Reds have two former Opening Day starters in Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray. They have Wade Miley, who has the 12th lowest ERA in MLB this season. They have Tyler Mahle, a five-year veteran who hasn’t missed a start this season, and Gutierrez, who has been one of the most consistent rookie starters in the league this year.

Aug 25, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Cincinnati Reds pitcher Luis Castillo (58) pitches in the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at American Family Field.

While the Reds are in the middle of a stretch where they have three off days in an 11-day window, Reds manager David Bell said the coaching staff hasn’t discussed mixing up the starting rotation or skipping a pitcher’s start.

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“For the most part, I do think there’s some benefit from the off days the rest of the way,” Bell said. “It might just happen where they fall into play everywhere we need them.”

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Sonny Gray (54) delivers in the first inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.

When the Reds have come off a disappointing loss this season, Bell said the Reds starting rotation has prevented any negative momentum from snowballing. In August, the Reds starting rotation made 18 quality starts. Four of the five starters in the rotation made at least three quality starts. Gray only had two quality starts, but he finished the month with a 2.93 ERA.

“It really starts with our starting pitching, and our starting pitching has been really consistent,” Bell said. “It’s been something we can count on. It’s not going to be every night, but for the most part, they’ve done a great job. They give us a chance to win every night.”

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