Cincinnati Reds standouts Jonathan India and Nick Castellanos — both South Florida natives — are having a great time playing against their hometown team, the Miami Marlins.
The Reds are 5-1 against the Marlins in 2021, with the only blemish coming in Saturday’s 6-1 loss.
On Sunday afternoon, the visiting Reds will try to win this three-game series against the Marlins, while second baseman India will attempt to boost his Rookie of the Year credentials.
India has 17 homers, 59 RBIs, an .843 OPS and is batting .272.
“That was my goal at the beginning of the season,” India said when asked about winning Rookie of the Year. “But I just want to win for the team. I want to get to the playoffs and make a run.”
India’s dream could come true if the Reds remain hot. They are in the lead for the second and final National League wild-card playoff berth.
The Reds have won six of their past nine games, and right fielder Castellanos has played a large role. He has 24 homers, three short of his career high, with 72 RBIs and a .949 OPS. The All-Star has a .321 battng average.
Sunday’s pitching matchup will feature Reds right-hander Tyler Mahle (10-4, 3.69 ERA) against Marlins lefty Jesus Luzardo (4-7, 7.91).
Mahle, who is 0-1 with a 3.27 ERA in two career starts against the Marlins, has never pitched in Miami.
A seventh-round pick in 2013 out of the California prep ranks, Mahle made his major-league debut in 2017. This year, he already has career highs in wins, starts (26), innings (141 1/3) and strikeouts (166).
Mahle, who will turn 27 next month, owes his improvement to his addition of a tight slider to go with his four-seam fastball (93-94 mph) and splitter/changeup. He changes speeds well from a three-quarters delivery.
Luzardo, meanwhile, has struggled since he was acquired by Miami on July 28 from the Oakland Athletics.
He is 2-3 with a 9.67 ERA in five starts with the Marlins, and he is allowing nearly 13 hits and seven walks per nine innings during that span.
Luzardo, who has never faced the Reds, has found it difficult to harness his power pitches.
“I’ve had struggles throughout the year,” he conceded.
Among the positives for the Marlins: They lead the National League with 28 outfield assists, and they rank third in the majors with 92 stolen bases.
Miami’s Most Valuable Player this year is first baseman Jesus Aguilar, who enters Sunday’s game tied for fifth in the majors with 89 RBIs. He is trying to join Giancarlo Stanton — now with the New York Yankees — as the only Marlins players to lead the National League in RBIs.
Meanwhile, Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas is batting .306 (63-for-206) this year from the leadoff spot. At all other spots in the order, he is batting just .229.
With a minimum of 100 at-bats stipulated, Rojas ranks fifth in the majors with his leadoff batting average.
On the injury front, the Marlins are still without outfielder Lewis Brinson (left-thumb sprain).
Reds third baseman Mike Moustakas left Saturday’s game due to tightness in his right hip, and his status for Sunday is uncertain.
–Field Level Media