Notes: Gray to start finale; WCS rotation set

September 27th, 2020

Now that the Reds clinched a postseason spot on Friday, manager David Bell decided that they don’t need to pitch on Sunday vs. the Twins in the regular-season finale. Instead, will take the ball.

Bell plans to have Bauer pitch Game 1 of the National League Wild Card Series on Wednesday, followed by on Thursday in Game 2, and if necessary, Gray would be available for Game 3 on Friday. Cincinnati’s potential opponent remains undecided, though it is likely to be the Braves.

“It’ll be good for [Gray] to get another start under his belt from missing a little bit of time,” Bell said on Saturday. “When I approached both Sonny and Trevor about it, it sounded like they had already been thinking that way. I didn’t allow myself, really, to think about it until pretty late last night.”

That means Bauer won’t have another chance to bolster his chances to win the NL Cy Young Award. He is 5-4 with a league-best 1.73 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 275 ERA+ and 100 strikeouts over 73 innings.

“I prefer it that way,” Bauer said, “because we’re in the postseason, and we can line up to try to give us the best chance of winning a postseason series.

“Obviously, if we needed to win Sunday, I was excited to pitch Sunday. But I’d much rather pitch in a must-win game in the postseason than a must-win game to get to the postseason.”

Gray was activated from the 10-day injured list on Tuesday after being out with a right mid-back strain. He came back strong with one earned run, two hits and one walk allowed over five innings while striking out eight.

“There’s nothing that’s set in stone at this time of the year,” Gray said. “Everything is an option. Everyone is available. … It’s just about showing up to the ballpark. Everyone in the clubhouse, everyone in the organization, this year everyone in the traveling party -- everyone comes to the clubhouse with one expectation and one goal. It’s to try and find a way to win the game that day. That’s all it is. Where you pitch, what you do, who does this, who does that, it’s all kind of irrelevant at this point.”

Bang the gong
After each win this season, the Reds clubhouse started a celebration tradition of having someone bang a gong that was purchased by . After the team clinched on Friday, Bell was given the honor for the first time by the players, led by .

“I’ve been watching it all year, and it looked like a lot of fun,” Bell said. “I really wanted to make the most of it. The first one was pretty weak, and then [Barnhart] had me do it again, and I didn’t waste that opportunity. It was fun.”

One of the other special moments was when Bell called his younger sister, Traci, who has Down syndrome and is a big Reds fan.

“She was the first call I made. She was fired up, had a little celebration,” Bell said. “That was a beautiful voice to hear, especially when she’s happy and excited. It was a nice, fun call to make right after the game.”

Moose is loose
Reds second baseman slugged two home runs in Friday’s 7-2 victory over Minnesota. His second long ball came in the ninth inning and took some pressure off as his team tried to close out the postseason-clinching win.

“I’ve been saying that since Spring Training, since we got this 60-game season, that add-on runs are going to be absolutely crucial,” Moustakas said Saturday. “It takes the pressure off of us, pressure off of our bullpen, pressure off of everybody when you can add extra runs on. We did a phenomenal job of that late last night.”

Moustakas, a key offseason addition with a four-year, $64 million contract, struggled for much of the season. But perhaps he is saving his best for last. He entered the night on a six-game hitting streak while batting .391 with five doubles and three home runs.

“I feel good at the plate right now. I’m getting good pitches to hit and not missing them,” Moustakas said. “I think that’s a big thing. Now’s a good time for all of us to get hot rolling into this postseason, absolutely.”