The host Miami Marlins and the Cincinnati Reds are set to open a three-game series on Monday night, less than 24 hours before the trade deadline.
It's anyone's guess if that looming deadline bothers or motivates players.
For example, pitcher Luis Castillo -- with trade rumors circulating -- beat the Marlins 5-3 last Wednesday, striking out eight batters in seven innings. The rumors obviously didn't hurt him, and he was traded to the Seattle Mariners on Friday.
"It has been a beautiful experience," Castillo said of his time in Cincinnati.
Reds slugger Brandon Drury, supposedly on the proverbial trading block as well, hit the go-ahead homer in the eighth inning on Sunday as Cincinnati beat the Baltimore Orioles 3-2. It was his team-leading 20th homer of the season.
Conversely, Miami pitcher Pablo Lopez -- also the subject of trade rumors -- had a rough start on Sunday, taking a loss and allowing a career-high 12 hits.
"It could have," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said when asked if the trade talks hindered Lopez. "These guys are human and they hear the rumors and they kind of know what's going on."
The irony is that Marlins executives aren't saying what their strategy is with the deadline looming Tuesday.
"I'm not sure if we are going to be a clear buyer or a clear seller," Marlins general manager Kim Ng said.
The Reds, though, have already sold.
Besides Castillo, the Reds dealt outfielder Tyler Naquin to the New York Mets last week.
Had Castillo not been traded, he likely would've started on Monday for Cincinnati. Instead, the Reds will throw rookie right-hander Hunter Greene (3-12, 5.59 ERA).
Despite those unimpressive stats, Greene has electric stuff, including a fastball that averages 99 mph.
Greene, who turns 23 on Saturday, was Cincinnati's first-round pick -- second overall -- in 2017 out of Notre Dame High School in California.
He is averaging an impressive 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings. But his walk rate per nine innings is high (3.8), and he has allowed 23 homers -- second-most in the majors.
The Reds are just 4-15 when Greene starts. He has faced the Marlins once in his young career and went 6 1/3 innings, allowing nine hits, one walk and two runs. He struck out six.
In an interview with The Sporting News, Reds pitching coach Derek Johnson noted he is exceptionally high on Greene.
"When you talk about guys who have great careers in this league, that's what they look like," Johnson said. "He's 22, and it's easy to see the sky is the limit for him."
Cincinnati enters Monday's game on a modest two-game win streak.
The Marlins, meanwhile, have yet to announce Monday's starter.
Miami, which split four games at Cincinnati last week, lost all three contests at home to the first-place Mets over the weekend.
It's possible the Marlins could activate lefty Jesus Luzardo off the injured list and start him on Monday.
Another possibility is left-hander Braxton Garrett, who is having the best season of his young career.
Garrett, who turns 25 on Friday, is 2-4 with a 3.96 ERA in a career-high 10 starts.
In his most recent start, Garrett faced the Reds for the first time in his career, and it did not go well for Miami. Garrett took the loss, allowing five runs in five innings despite striking out eight batters and walking just one.
--Field Level Media
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