Opposite dugout: Early-season success a distant memory for last-place Reds

reds-logo.pngManager: Bryan Price (4th season)

Record: 30-41

Last 10 games: 1-9

Who to watch: 1B Joey Votto (.306/.419/.601 with 20 HR, 53 RBIs), LF Adam Duvall (.277 with 16 HR, 48 RBIs), RF Scott Schebler (20 HR, 39 RBIs), RHP Scott Feldman (5-5, 4.20 ERA), RHP Raisel Iglesias (1.59 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 12 saves)

Season series vs. Nationals: First meeting (3-4 in 2016)

Pitching probables:

June 23: RHP Luis Castillo vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg, 7:05 p.m., MASN
June 24: RHP Homer Bailey vs. RHP Joe Ross, 4:05 p.m., MASN2
June 25: RHP Scott Feldman vs. RHP Tanner Roark, 1:35 p.m., MASN2

Inside the Reds:

A 17-14 record and first-place standing in the National League Central on May 7 must seem like a distant memory for the Reds. They fell back under .500 a little over a week later and haven't been close to a winning record since. And now the Reds seem like a classic case of a team who explodes out of the gates to start the season and then comes crashing back to reality, as they sit eight games out of first place at the bottom of their division. Since May 12, the Reds have endured losing streaks of seven and nine games. That nine-game streak is part of a current stretch in which Cincinnati has lost 11 of their last 12 games. Even though it's only June 23, the Reds are staring at their fourth straight last-place finish.

Two things to keep an eye on with this Reds team this weekend: They can mash, but they can't pitch. The Reds' bats have clubbed 102 home runs this season, but the pitching staff has the second-worst ERA in the majors at 5.08. So if the Nationals can keep the ball in the yard from the mound while batting it around at the plate, they should be in pretty good shape in this three-game series.

The Reds won't have their offensive leader available this weekend. Shortstop Zack Cozart leads the team with a .320 average but is on the disabled list with a strained right quadriceps muscle and is lining up to be activated next week. In the meantime, first baseman Joey Votto leads the way with a .306/.419/.601 slash line, 20 home runs and 53 RBIs. Right fielder Adam Duvall is batting .277 with 16 homers and 48 RBIs, while right fielder Scott Schebler has added 20 longballs and 39 RBIs. Center fielder Billy Hamilton is only hitting .237 with a .289 on-base percentage, but he leads the major leagues with 31 stolen bases.

Right-hander Luis Castilo, 24, will make his major league debut tonight, and what better way to say "Welcome to the big leagues" than having to go head-to-head with Stephen Strasburg and the potent Nationals lineup in D.C.? Castillo was the main part of the package that came to Cincinnati in the deal that sent Dan Straily to Miami in the offseason. In 14 starts at Double-A Pensacola, Castillo went 4-4 with a 2.58 ERA, but really impressed by striking out 81 and only walking 13 so far this year. Homer Bailey will be the second of three right-handers the Reds are starting this weekend when he takes the mound Saturday. He'll be activated off the 60-day DL after recovering from surgery to remove bone spurs from his right elbow. Bailey has only started eight games over the past two seasons, going 2-4 with a 6.29 ERA, after forearm surgery during the 2014 season and Tommy John in May 2015. Against the Nationals in his 10-year career, he is 1-3 with a 3.68 ERA over four starts. If the Reds have an ace, its Scott Feldman, who takes the bump for Sunday's finale. He is 5-5 with a 4.20 ERA in 15 starts this season, while throwing a complete-game shutout against the Giants on May 7. The 34-year-old hasn't recorded a decision in two starts against the Nationals while posting a 2.45 ERA.

The Reds bullpen has a collective 3.78 ERA and has converted 15 of 21 save opportunities. Right-hander Raisel Iglesias has quietly established himself as one of the best closers in the game. The 27-year-old has posted two wins, 12 saves, a 0.57 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 10.9 strikeouts/nine innings while utilizing a fastball that has topped out at 101 mph. Speaking of closers, former Nationals closer Drew Storen makes his return to Nats Park this weekend. In 31 outings this season, Storen has a 2.64 ERA and 1.27 WHIP.

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