Former Reds lead Giants to best record in National League

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Curt Casali interview (May 17, 2021)

San Francisco starters, four of whom are former Reds, own best ERA in league

Reunions are commonplace in baseball. Roster movement means almost every team has ties to every other team. A series this week at Great American Ball Park takes that notion to the extreme, however.

The San Francisco Giants have former Cincinnati Reds starters Johnny Cueto, Anthony DeSclafani and Alex Wood on their roster as well as former Reds relievers Kevin Gausman and Matt Wisler and catcher Curt Casali.

Casali played the last three seasons with the Reds before signing as a free-agent with the Giants in January. He returned to Great American Ball Park on Monday for the first time as a visiting player.

“There definitely was a tear trying to creep up in there because I just have so many great memories here,” Casali said. “The Reds kind of give me my second chance at life in the big leagues in 2018, and mix that with getting to the playoffs last year and playing with some of my best friends in the world and just the outstanding fan base, I can’t really say enough good things about this city. I love Cincinnati, and it provided me a lot. Hopefully, I gave a little bit back in return.”

Casali did not play Monday as the Giants beat the Reds 6-3 in the series opener. DeSclafani, Gausman and Cueto will start the last three games of the series.

DeSclafani struggled in the 60-game 2020 season, posting a 7.22 ERA in nine appearances, but has bounced back with a 2.14 ERA in eight starts in his first season in San Francisco. He pitched the last five seasons with the Reds and hasn’t pitched in Cincinnati as a visitor since his rookie season with the Miami Marlins in 2014.

“I haven’t been in San Fran for too long,” DeSclafani said. “Rolling back into town here in Cincinnati, it almost felt like I never left.”

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Cueto spent eight seasons in Cincinnati and now has pitched in six seasons with the Giants. Wood made seven starts for the Reds in 2019. Gausman made 15 appearances that same season with the Reds.

Cueto, DeSclafani, Wood and Gausman have combined to go 13-2 in 27 starts, leading the Giants to the best record (25-16) in the National League. Giants starters lead the National League with a 2.68 ERA.

“We have a lot of experience in our rotation,” Casali said. “I think that that plays a big role in it. ... These guys know what they’re doing. We talk all the time about scouting reports. They’re very honed in on what they’re good at, what they’re not good at. They don’t try to do anything that they’re not able to do. At the end of the day they have the ball, they have control and they always have the advantage. They’ve been executing a lot of pitches recently, and we’ve been coming up with some really good plans and it’s translated into a lot of success so far.”

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