Series Preview

Series Preview: Reds at Braves

So, how we doing out there? Feeling peppy? No? Really? Yeah, me neither. It’s been pretty rough lately for our Reds, and a trip to Atlanta doesn’t really seem like a good cure, does it? But there’s some good news. The Braves have been scuffling much like the Reds. Over their last 32 games, they are 15-17. That’s not real good.  So what’s going on?

The Lineup
C – Brian McCann* .294/.371/.518
1B – Freddie Freeman*.307/.388/.470
2B – Dan Uggla .203/.323/.417
SS – Andrelton Simmons .245/.282/.346
3B – Chris Johnson .335/.377/.484
LF – Justin Upton .248/.349/.457
CF – B.J. Upton .179/.269/.304
RF – Jason Heyward*.225/.323/.369

So, you think the Reds have some lineup holes? Meet the Atlanta Braves. What’s worse, it’s actually a little worse than it looks as Justin Upton hasn’t hit at all for quite sometime. His hot start is why his numbers are still solid.

That lineup also strikes out a lot and it would not be surprising if the Reds pitchers gave them fits in this series. Now, onto the matchups…

Starting Pitching

Thursday: Tim Hudson (5-7, 4.03) vs. Mat Latos (8-2, 3.18)
Friday: Kris Medlen (6-8, 3.45) vs. Bronson Arroyo (7-7, 3.55)
Saturday: Mike Minor (8-4, 3.05) vs. Homer Bailey (5-7, 3.70)
Sunday: Julio Teheran (7-4, 3.09) vs. Tony Cingrani (3-1 3.30)

Those are some really good match ups. The Braves and Reds rank 2nd and 4th respectively in the NL in ERA and it would not be surprising if this was a low scoring series. Just staring at the numbers, it’s very easy to imagine a split. Ironically, Reds and Braves fans would probably both be happy with that given how things have gone for each team lately.

Relief Pitching

In Craig Kimbrel, the Braves effectively have Aroldis Chapman with a less interesting back story. The bullpen as a whole is very solid, but there are weak spots and if the Braves are forced to use a lot of relievers, it good get interesting. Overall, it looks to me like the bullpens are pretty even, especially looking at the peripherals.

Conclusion

Both teams are struggling. They have good pitching and okay hitting. Their records are nearly identical. This should be interesting to watch. I expect we’re in for some good close games.

 

33 thoughts on “Series Preview: Reds at Braves

  1. Well it looks like Dusty has designated Heisey as his starter in LF going forward. The Braves have an aging RHP on the mound today, and XP is on the bench in favor of Heisey. I’m glad (at least I hope) Heisey has no ill effects from his plunking(s) and I hope Heisey continues his hot hitting, because once Dusty has annointed someone, nothing changes his mind. Case in point, look at Dusty’s #2 hitter in the lineup today against the Braves.

    • @Shchi Cossack: It could well be that Heisey gets a bit of a look, but it could also be that Dusty is giving Paul extra time off from playing the field since his injury, rather than playing back to back games. It’s not in Dusty’s nature to give Heisey a very long look, however. I’d be shocked if that changed at this point.

      Apparently, Heisey is 2-for-3 lifetime against Hudson, both singles. And XP is 0-for-3 with 2Ks. Would Dusty care about that?

  2. Yeah. I’m expecting three of our four starting pitchers to perform some free-pizza level K heroics. A couple of these games might likely come down to keeping mistake pitches to a bare minimum.

  3. The big off season aquisition of the Upton brothers isn’t looking so good for the Braves. I was never a big fan of either Upton, but after Justin’s sizzling start (.307/.398/.737) as a Brave through the 1st 8 series, 24 games, I was ready to reevaluate my perspective. His performance (.226/.331/.338) has brought him plummeting back to earth and BJ’s performance (.179/.269/.304) has been consistently bad all season. Of course, BJ was aquired to play CF & lead off for the Braves, but Gonzalez has long since abandoned trying to force BJ into the top of the lineup with such a horrendous OBP.

  4. Not really a great place to post random stuff, so I figured I’d toss it here. I hope this doesn’t violate any rules.

    Surfing around FanGraphs looking for stats about Cozart and accidentally stumbled across this:

    Brandon Phillips has the 17th worst wOBA (.313) in the NL among players with 300 plate appearances. It makes sense when thinking about it, but I was surprised to see him name there. I’m guessing his ability so far to drive in runners is what contributed most to my misconception that he was having a decent season. For comparison, Cozart (.268) is 3rd worst among the same group, ahead of only BJ Upton and Starlin Castro.

    So, I dug some more. Here are his slash lines from last 3 seasons (AVG/OBP/SLG/wOBA)

    2011: .300/.353/.457/.353
    2012: .281/.321/.429/.325
    2013: .264/.317/.411/.313

    THEN, I reminded myself that he plays GG defense in the middle of the infield and that settled me down a bit. There isn’t another NL 2nd Baseman I’d rather have.

    Do you guys think aging is a likely culprit? Regression?

    • @prjeter: BP hasn’t been the same since he got hit on the hand in the Pirates game a few weeks ago. I think he’s been hurting more than the Reds let on. As the hand gets back to normal I think you’ll see him back in line with his 2012 numbers.

    • @prjeter:

      Do you guys think aging is a likely culprit? Regression?

      Neither aging nor regression in the Old Cossack’s humble (?) opinion. BP likes to hit, likes to swing the bat and likes to make the big splash. Getting on base might produce results, but it doesn’t make a big splash. Driving in runs makes the big splash. For the past 2 seasons, BP has been in a position to swing the bat, drive in runs and make the big splash. He has welcomed and relished that opportunity. Looking for that big slash is what got the Brew Crew pitcher distracted to walk two consectuve hitters but also got him picked off 1B in the last series. That’s not meant as a knock on BP, just a statement of what I see in his performance. His performance is an extention of his personality. At this point, I’m not sure I would want BP hitting 2nd in the lineup, but I certainly want him in the Reds lineup. I would probably want BP hitting 6th behind Bruce as the best option (assuming we have to adhere to Dusty’s lineup construction).

    • @prjeter: RBI’s aside, BP’s numbers pretty much reflect his 162 game average. This is the player he is. His base-stealing has gone off a cliff, but he looks to me like the back of his baseball card. His numbers are remarkably similar to Frazier’s.

    • @prjeter: Matt Carpenter is more valuable than Brandon Phillips. There’s no way that 50 OPS+ points, or whatever one’s favorite offensive stat is, can be made up for with gold glove defense.

      • @Hank Aarons Teammate: if you could guarantee me that he will maintain this level the next couple of years, I will take Carpenter as well. Short of that, I want to see a couple of years b4 I replace BP.

  5. Hanigan put on the DL, Corky brought up. Yikes! let’s hope we see a lot of Mesoraco and very little of Corky.
    Why he is still even on the Reds roster is beyond me.

    • @Hunt4RedsOctober: ON a more serious response, Corky was added to the one available slot on the 40 man roster. Once Hanigan is activated from the DL after the all star break, Corky will again be DFA’d and removed from the 40 man roster with no concern that anyone else will pick him up. If Ashley is added to the 40 man roster, I doubt he would clear waivers if the Reds attempted to DFA him off the 40 man roster and I don’t think the Reds want to add Barnhart to the 40 man roster yet. Those are the only 3 catchers in the Reds minor league system that could possibly be promoted, even temporarily, to the major league roster.

      Of course the Reds line regarding Corky’s promotion is that he knows the pitchers and has a great repoire in handling the pitchers. I believe that is correct, but he can’t play baseball at a major league level.

      • @Shchi Cossack: Corky can’t hit at a major league level (so he’ll bat second?), but he can field at that level. He’s only being asked to play second fiddle for 10 games, so you are right, they don’t really have any other option in the short run.

        Of a catcher was lost long term, then they would likely go with Ashley.

      • @Shchi Cossack: This makes perfect sense. It’s a bit unfortunate we have to accept Corky as the short-term solution for fear of the might waiver wire.

        If Hanigan proves to be getting too fragile to handle 40% of the load or more, does anyone think he gets replaced in the off-season? I have a hard time believing Baker will let Mesoraco go 80% of the time and keep on Hanigan to spell Meso once per trip through the rotation.

  6. I just bought Friday and Saturday tickets. I really hope we figure it out this series. The Reds are 6-0 when I am in attendance since my first game in 2000. I really don’t want to see that come to an end just yet.

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