Standings: Your Cincinnati Reds (59-40) enter tonight’s game tied for the best record in the National League, holding a two game lead over Pittsburgh, a 5.5 game lead over the WLB and with a season-high eight game winning streak. The Rockies (37-61) are in last place in the NL West. The Reds haven’t won nine in a row since 1999.
Pitching: Johnny Cueto (12-5, 2.23 ERA, 2.96 FIP) takes the mound for the Reds. For the second game in a row, the Reds will face a rookie left-handed pitcher in Christian Friedrich (5-7, 5.71 ERA, 4.19 FIP). Cueto has pitched twice in Coors Field, once in 2010 and once in 2008. He has a record of 0-1 and 3.00 ERA in those starts. Over his past six starts, Friedrich has alternated between good and bad. In his three positive starts, he tossed 16 combined innings and gave up just four runs. On the other hand, in the poor outings he surrendered 15 runs over 13 1/3. Friedrich’s ERA at Coors Field is a rocky 8.23.
Good News on Masset: Mark Sheldon reports that Nick Masset started last night for the AZL Reds and struck out the side in his one inning of work.
Division News: In case you haven’t heard, the Reds won’t have to worry about facing Zack Grienke in their upcoming games against division foe Milwaukee. Grienke was traded for a package of young players to the L.A. Angels. That’s a positive development in the short run, as Greinke was pretty good against the Reds in his previous starts. If we have to face him in Anaheim in Game Three of the World Series, well, we can worry about that then.
Trade Deadline Speculation: The Enquirer’s John Fay offers the opinion that the Reds may be factoring Billy Hamilton’s timeline into their trade considerations. Fay points out that if you assume Hamilton will be on the major league roster in 2014 as a centerfielder, you wouldn’t want Denard Span there. Span is signed through 2014 with a club option for 2015. But if the record-chasing Hamilton progresses at that pace, couldn’t the Reds just trade Span’s team-friendly contract? Keep in mind that the speedy Hamilton hasn’t played an inning in the OF yet.
Fay notes that Juan Pierre “makes the most sense in some ways” (no, no, no) because of his numbers and he could “spell Drew Stubbs against tough righties.” And Fay also points out there is the decent in-house option of moving Brandon Phillips to the lead-off spot (yes) once JoeyMVP returns.
Jerry Crasnick of ESPN has a new post up about how the trade deadline affects the players who are caught up in the uncertainty and change. Ryan Ludwick, who has been traded the past two years at the deadline, expresses his feelings about it and hopes that he doesn’t get traded this time around.
Former Reds outfielder and AL MVP Josh Hamilton has been stuck in a six-week slump that is so severe he is being criticized publicly by Rangers owner Nolan Ryan and hearing boos from the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately Rangers fans. His performance since June 1 (.189/.276/.326) makes him an ideal candidate to lead off for the Reds, don’t you think??
Tonight’s Lineup: Standard non-Votto order.
Discuss this stuff and the game here.