MLB Insiders: Cincinnati Reds

The Pirates open a three-game series in Cincinnati on Tuesday night. Right-hander A.J. Burnett will be on the hill for the Bucs. The Reds will toss right-hander Homer Bailey.

As Pittsburgh's A.J. Burnett continued his recent mastery last week against the Cincinnati Reds, Homer Bailey managed to baffle the Pirates yet again.

With Burnett and Bailey each riding three-start winning streaks, runs could be at a premium Tuesday night as Pittsburgh tries for a fifth consecutive road victory over NL Central-leading Cincinnati in the opener of a three-game set.

Aside from yielding a career-worst 12 runs in 2 2-3 innings of a 12-3 loss at St. Louis on May 2, Burnett (4-2, 3.60 ERA) has pitched well. The veteran right-hander has a 1.52 ERA over his other seven outings, yielding two runs or fewer in each.

Burnett came up big again Wednesday in a 2-1 win over the Reds (30-23), giving up an unearned run and two hits over seven innings.

"I've been around a long time," said Burnett, who is 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA in his last three matchups with Cincinnati. "I'm no All-Star, I'm no Cy Young but I've been through the battles. I know what it's like to win. I know what it's like to lose. ... I'll do anything I can to help, that's why I'm here."

Burnett has allowed four home runs this season but faces a Reds team that's gone deep 20 times in winning seven of eight at home. Cincinnati is 23-6 when hitting at least one homer and 7-17 when failing to do so.

The Reds, who posted back-to-back wins before falling 5-3 at Houston on Sunday, have to like their chances of getting back on track behind Bailey (4-3, 3.73).

The right-hander allowed four hits and struck out five in recording his second career complete game - both against the Pirates (27-26) - in last Tuesday's 8-1 victory at PNC Park.

Bailey, who threw a four-hitter during a 5-0 road win over Pittsburgh on May 12, 2010, is 6-0 with a 1.79 ERA against the Pirates.

Winners of six of seven at Great American Ball Park, the Pirates have outscored the Reds 26-12 en route to taking four in a row there. Pittsburgh hasn't won five straight at Cincinnati since a seven-game run spanning the 2002 and '03 seasons.

The Reds picked Nick Travieso, a right-hander from McCarthy High in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with the 14th pick in the draft. Travieso, a 6-foot-3, 210 pounder, went 8-1 with a 0.76 ERA this year. He struck out 100 and walked 17 in 65 innings.

He throws up to 99 mph.

"I've been blessed by God with the ability to throw that hard," he said. "I typically sit at 93 to 95, but I've gotten up to 99."

Travieso has committed with University of Miami, but it sounds as if he's signable.

"Right now, I am looking forward to signing professionally and get my career started," Travieso said. "Hopefully I'll get to Cincinnati as quickly as I can to help the big-league team win a World Series."

Travieso played on the same high school team as Nick Arias, son of the Reds' director of Latin American scouting, Tony Arias.

"Sometimes, you feel like you have a little advantage when you have that kind of information," Reds scouting director Chris Buckley said. "We're hoping we knew some things others didn't."

He was the 40th-ranked player in Baseball America's draft preview issue.

"His dad's handled him very well," Buckley said. "He limited his innings. He really looked after him. Sometimes, when guys don't participate in all events somebody holds that against them. We had him right up there to pick him."

Notes, Quotes

LHP Jeff Francis opted out of his contract with the Reds and became a free agent. He had an out on June 1. Francis was 3-6 with 3.72 ERA for Triple-A Louisville. He may re-sign with the Reds if he cannot find a job in the big leagues.

RHP Homer Bailey will try to continue his roll Tuesday night when he starts against the Pirates in the series opener. Bailey is 6-0 with a 1.79 ERA in eight starts against the Pirates.

LHP Aroldis Chapman has not allowed a hit in his last 7 2/3 innings, covering seven outings. He has struck out 14 and walked two over that span.

RHP Alfredo Simon has allowed only one earned run over his last 17 1/3 innings and 10 appearances. He's done that despite allowing the first batter to reach in eight of those appearances.

RHP J.J. Hoover is 1-0 with 1.98 ERA. But he's struggled with inherited runners, allowing five of 10 to score.

By The Numbers: 2—That's how many off days the Reds have had the last five days after playing 20 straight days.

Quote To Note: "I've followed him my whole life. He's my idol. I have the same mentality he did when he was on the mound." —Reds top pick Nick Travieso, on Roger Clemens

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