By Doug Padilla, The Sports Xchange – UPI
LOS ANGELES – Tyler Mahle will get the start for the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday at Dodger Stadium, but all eyes will be searching for a different pitcher on the roster.
Newly-acquired right-hander Matt Harvey is expected to join the Reds for the four-game series against the defending National League champion Los Angeles Dodgers. It remains unclear when Harvey will make his Reds debut, but the club says he will be in the rotation soon.
As of Wednesday, the Reds did not have the former Mets pitcher officially listed as a starter for any of the four games at Los Angeles, although he has yet to officially join the club. There has been some speculation that Harvey could end up making his first appearance out of the bullpen against the Dodgers before returning to a starter role.
“I would think he would, in some capacity, pitch against the Dodgers,” Reds manager Jim Riggleman said, according to mlb.com. “Whether that’s relieving or starting or whatever, I don’t know yet.”
Mahle (2-4, 4.35 ERA) returns to his native Southern California for Thursday’s start. The Orange County resident will enter his first ever start at Dodger Stadium with 42 strikeouts in 39 1/3 innings this season. But he has also given up nine home runs in seven starts.
While the long ball numbers are high, Mahle appears to be settling into his starting role, going at least six innings in each of his last three outings and not giving up more than three runs in any of them. He has never faced the Dodgers.
While Mahle has just 11 career major league starts under his belt, he is a veteran compared to the Dodgers’ Thursday starter, Walker Buehler, who will be making just his fourth major-league start.
But the right-hander has already made some memories, pitching the first six innings of a combined no-hitter Friday against the San Diego Padres in Monterrey, Mexico. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts limited Buehler to 93 pitches as a precaution after his Tommy John surgery in 2015.
Buehler (2-0, 1.13) will be making his 12th career appearance in a major league game, after finishing last year in the Dodgers’ bullpen, and none of those outings have come against the Reds.
The hard-throwing Buehler has 19 strikeouts in 16 innings after starting the season at Triple-A Oklahoma City.
The Dodgers are off to a slow start this season, but they have won every game that Buehler has started.
If Buehler’s winning trend continues against the 10-27 Reds, the Dodgers could be on their way to just their third series victory and first since April 20-22 against the Washington Nationals. But the Dodgers are just 16-20 themselves and have Justin Turner, Clayton Kershaw, Corey Seager and Logan Forsythe on the disabled list.
“You’ve got to keep grinding until you find it,” closer Kenley Jansen said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “We just got to find that gear.”