Series Preview

It can’t get any worse

The Reds play four games against Atlanta in GABP this weekend. Prior to The Second Collapse, this series was shaping up as a head-to-head battle for a Wild Card slot. Now it’s sort of head-to-ankle. Atlanta is a difficult team to figure out. After the All-Star break, they lost eight in a row including being swept by the Padres (sounds vaguely familiar) and dropped twelve of fifteen. They rallied, swept Oakland and won 2 of 3 in Pittsburgh. So is Atlanta hot or cold coming in to Cincinnati? Doesn’t really matter, does it. Their bullpen won’t set the scoreboard on fire every night.

Atlanta swept the Reds in a three-game series in April (two one-run losses).

Run Production

Atlanta is middle-of-the-pack at the plate. They’ve actually scored fewer runs than the Reds overall, but more since the All-Star break. Despite the awkwardness, they ditched Dan Uggla and replaced him with a platoon of Tommy La Stella and Phil Gosselin. They picked up Emilio Bonifaco at the trade deadline, but he hasn’t played much or hit well.

Tonight’s game presents Atlanta with a sad and strange dilemma. Gosselin usually plays and bats second against LHP, but with David Holmberg being the SP in question, you wonder how many times through the lineup the Reds will actually have a lefty on the mound.

1. Jason Heyward (L) RF
3. Freddie Freeman (L) 1B
4. Justin Upton (R) LF
5. Chris Johnson (R) 3B
6. Evan Gattis (R) C
8. B.J. Upton (R) CF
hihi

Justin Upton (.287/.364/.520), Freddie Freeman (.296/.387/.490) and Evan Gattis (.277.329/.516) are having excellent seasons. Thanks to a strong on-base-percentage, Jason Heyward (.269/.352/.390) has been above average as a leadoff hitter. He also leads the major leagues in DRS (defensive runs saved) with 32. Compare that to the Reds leaders in DRS, Zack Cozart (17) and Billy Hamilton (10).

Run Prevention

It’s not Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz, but Atlanta’s starting pitchers rank fourth in the NL in ERA and eighth in xFIP. Not bad for a staff that was patched together by general manager Frank Wren the week before the season started.

Projected top-of-the-rotation starters Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy were lost the last week of March to Tommy John Surgery. Wren quickly signed free agent Ervin Santana to a one-year, $14.1 million contract. Wren also signed former Reds ace, Aaron Harang, who exercised an opt-out clause during spring training with Cleveland.

Probable Pitching Match-ups

The Reds won’t face Alex Wood (2.83 ERA/3.44 SIERA) and Atlanta misses Johnny Cueto (2.24 ERA/3.17 SIERA).

Thursday, 7:10 p.m.

Thursday

Julio Teheran and David Holmberg are both 23 years old and starting tonight’s game. That is everything they have in common. Otherwise they are opposites. The (L) after Holmberg’s name might indicate many things. In this case, it means he’s left-handed. Teheran pitched eight shut-out innings against the Reds in April.

Friday, 7:10 p.m.

Friday

This is one of those pitching match-ups where looking at the respective ERAs could produce overconfidence. Mike Minor’s ERA is awful but his SIERA shows the lefty is actually not pitching that poorly. Mat Latos has a glittering ERA but the underlying numbers shout that we shouldn’t trust that with all our heart.

Saturday, 7:10 p.m.

Saturday

Pretty even match-up of two better-than-average starters. Ervin Santana is having a solid year for Atlanta. The Reds scored four runs off Santana back in April, one driven in by some guy named Votto who had two hits and a walk.

Sunday, 1:10 p.m.

Sunday

Aaron Harang and Alfredo Simon are similar pitchers. Their 2014 ERAs are low relative to the fielding-independent metrics. Both have given their respective teams a larger number of quality starts than anyone had reason to expect. Harang’s most recent start against Pittsburgh was his 21st quality start of the season — he trails only Johnny Cueto (23) in that category in the NL.

Harang is an interesting case. His handsome ERA for the Dodgers in 2012 (3.61) covered up the underlying warning signs (4.94 SIERA) that made his ERA for Seattle in 2013 (5.76) somewhat unsurprising. However, Harang had actually experienced a rebound in advance metrics in 2013 (4.14 SIERA) which foreshadowed that he might not be awful in 2014. After four appearances in spring training for Cleveland, Harang was told he wouldn’t make their major league team. He exercised an opt-out clause in his contract, took advantage of the shredding elbow ligament epidemic and signed with Atlanta.

Bullpen

Craig Kimbrel is the right-handed version of Aroldis Chapman. Same age (26). Same otherworldly ability to strike out hitters. And same nearly league-average save conversion rate. Kimbrel’s is 90.2% for 2014 and 90.2% for his career. Chapman’s conversion rate the past three seasons is 89.5%. The major league average for closers is 88.8%.

David Carpenter and Jordan Walden are strong set-up relievers. Atlanta acquired James Russell from the Cubs at the deadline to serve as their capable lefty specialist.

25 thoughts on “It can’t get any worse

  1. I’ve gotten to the point that I’m not even watching anymore. My wife calls them “The Boys”. We just don’t see it getting any better and there are a lot of other things to do and watch on TV.
    It is sad that it has gotten this bad.
    Looking forward to the major off-season overhaul and then spring training.

    • For me, its matter of changing viewing expectations. I now watch to see if Billy does something new and exciting on basepaths or on defense, see if Devin continues to channel his Johnny Bench power stroke, Frazier to continue showing his progression as a hitter AND fielder.****

      Playoff expectation have been drained away, though still hope deep in my pro-Reds heart, somehow Reds conjure up a winning streak to get back into the race.

      ****Note: i still wonder though if Reds moving around TF in minors retarded his advancement somewhat, if they had stuck him at 3B early on, how much better he might be. too late now. oh well.

  2. Sad that in an obvious sale situation, the Reds must have nothing that contending teams want. It could also be that the Reds have a much higher opinion of the value of players than the rest of MLB does.

    • Mike, in some cases it is like the stuff you have in the garage, value, is only in the eyes of the owner of the stuff.

  3. You know when you say “It can’t get any worse” that it usually does get worse.
    Watch the Reds announce that they have re-signed Walt Jocketty to a new 4 year contract.
    It can get much worse.

    • Is that like saying “never say never”. Can it get worse, how about Chapman going on DL, Votto having relapse, Cueto complaining about “achey lats” and Homer not being able to finish season. just saying :)

  4. A little off topic, but this morning, Rosenthall provided the 1st link, that I have seen, between the Reds and Rusney Castillo. No one expected the Reds to move on Chapman and WJ, in typical WJ fashion, came out of nowhere to land that contract. Just a thought…

  5. It can always gets worse… Some of the stuff GEORGE MIRONES said above could happen. There also could be other scenarios to make things worse. I’ll be at the game tomorrow night. Let’s hope the home cooking can help the Reds get back to playing good ball. Even if they lose, I don’t want the garbage we’ve been witness to lately. I want to see them play well. Sometimes the other team just beats you and you tip your cap. The Reds have been giving it away lately though and that makes it very hard to watch.

  6. I’m just blown away by the Reds inability to address the bullpen, which has been a disaster since day one. We’re now 14 games under .500 just our of the bullpen. Our starting pitchers are 51 – 42, and our relievers are 10 – 24. This season could have turned out so differently if Walt had acted on the bullpen.

    How JJ Hoover is still in the major leagues is a complete mystery to me.

    • When is the last time WJ has done a thinking positive to help this team. Firing Dusty? No, that was Bob. The Choo trade? That was almost two years ago! Seriously, does he still have a pulse. Someone needs to check. If he gets a new contract I won’t be surprised but I will be tremendously disappointed and upset. Just like when they signed Dusty for 2 more years after the Giants playoff debacle.

      • I would say getting Rolen was a good move by WJ. In 2010 when Rolen played well, we played well. He was the key that season. Didn’t WJ get Cordero? That was a good move. Or better yet, trading prospects that were blocked (some of whom were suspended for PEDs) for Mat Latos. Or how about trading Hannigan and giving Mesoraco a chance to be the everyday catcher.

    • Sadly, I think it’s the same old story of salary plays, irrespective of abilbity or results.

  7. I have a question for the editors about a comment on the RLN twitter page:

    “Your Cincinnati Reds have lost five in a row, 8 of their last 9, ten of their last twelve. Ugh.”

    Why the use of “Your” instead of “Our”? Have the Editors (or the writer of that twitter piece) bailed so completely that they have disassociated and distanced themselves from the Reds? The use of “Your” puts distance from the speaker to the subject, that there is no commitment of the speaker. For example, “those are yours, these are ours.” There is distance. I have seen this used several times lately. This is very bad word usage from some very good word-smiths. Especially from a Reds fans blog. Have the editors abandoned ship ahead of the passengers??

    • I think it’s more like when your kid messes up and his mother says to you “Guess what your son did, today…..”. Doesn’t mean she has disowned him and doesn’t still love him, just means she is disappointed and frustrated with him.

    • And the final score is Falcons 21 and the Reds 3, Oops, sorry about that, mixed up the sports.

    • On a certain level, I could understand keeping Hoover on the 25-man roster if the Reds obviously did not want to risk losing him on a waiver claim, but it turns out, Hoover had an option remaining and the Reds STILL kept him on the 25-man roster while he floundered. That’s just sheer stupidity. WJ, not Hoover, is responsible for the Reds loses charged to Hoover.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s