I want to start this preview with some interesting schedule facts:

-The Reds have 67 games left
26 19 of those are against the Cardinals or Pirates
39 46 of the remaining 41 48 games are against bad or mediocre kids (the other 2 are against the A’s.)

In short, if the Reds don’t win the division or make the playoffs it will be because they didn’t get it done. You simply cannot ask for a better opportunity to make up ground the Reds have during the last few months of the season.

As for the Pirates, the Reds have played them 10 times already this season, and I think we all know what we’re getting. Some items of note:

-Second baseman Neil Walker is hurt and will miss this series, which means Reds pitchers will have the pleasure of throwing to Clint Barmes (Jordy Mercer will slide over to second), who makes Zack Cozart look like a silver slugger.
-After missing much of the season to date, Jose Tabata is healthy and back in the lineup.

Match Ups

Friday: Mike Leake (8-4, 2.69) vs. Francisco Liriano (9-3, 2.00)
Saturday: Mat Latos (8-3, 3.53) vs. A.J. Burnett (4-6, 3.06)
Sunday: Homer Bailey (5-8, 3.82) vs. Jeff Locke (8-2, 2.15)

That’s some pitching, huh? Burnett and Liriano are legit, too. Those ERAs are not illusions. However, I don’t know if I’m buying what Jeff Locke is selling. His peripherals aren’t as good as his ERA.

This is an important series. All of the games against the Pirates and Cards are important games now. The season isn’t over, far from it. But we all know the Reds have struggled lately. Now is the time to get it together and show what you’ve got. Let’s hope the Reds have more than enough.

Jason has been a fan of the Reds since he was born. He really had no choice in the matter. He has been writing at Redleg Nation for a few years, and also writes and edits at The Hardball Times. His debut novel, When the Sparrow Sings, is available now and concerns baseball, among other things. You can find more information at jasonlinden.com.

Join the conversation! 44 Comments

  1. Last summer we slam dunked the Pirates after the AS break, let’s do it again.

  2. Here’s hoping that the break did all the guys some good to get their heads cleared, get refocused, and ready to go. They did win the World Series in 2013 on my MLB Road to the Show game a few night ago, so here is hoping for a little good luck 😀

    Meanwhile, my player (me) is stuck in RF for the Mariners after being drafted and traded by the Padres. Ugh.

  3. One little correction, the Reds only play the Cards and Pirates 19 more times, not 26. Trust me, I know because I was comparing the remaining schedules for us and St. Louis the other day. And the good news is that our second-half sked looks much easier than the Cards’.

    Our remaining games:

    STL = 10
    PIT = 9
    MIL = 10
    CHI = 6
    NYM = 3
    ARI = 4
    LA = 7
    COL = 3
    SF = 4
    SD = 6
    OAK = 2
    HOU = 3

    Meanwhile, the Cards still have 14 games with the Pirates, 10 with us, 7 with the Braves, and 3 with the Nationals. We will certainly have the opportunity to make up some ground.

  4. Reds must win 45-50 of the remaining 67 to have any shot.

    • @dn4192: Any shot at what? The playoffs? No. The division, also probably not. That’s only true if it takes 100 wins to win the division. It probably won’t.

      • @dn4192: Any shot at what? The playoffs? No. The division, also probably not. That’s only true if it takes 100 wins to win the division. It probably won’t.

        Win the division, which they must do ….

        • @dn4192: Why? I agree that winning the division is preferable, but the playoffs are such a crap shoot there’s no reason a wildcard team can’t win the WS.

          • @Jason Linden: Maybe 4192 is saying the 1-game playoff (talk about a crapshoot) is too great of a risk. Once you get past that, if you’re in it, I agree winning the division doesn’t matter much. At this poitnI’d take getting in any which way.

      • @Jason Linden: Agreed. Given the Reds are 5 games up in the playoffs over the Nats (Nats are 1 games over 500), 5.5 over the Dodgers and Phillies (even 500 records), they are starting anywhere from 80-85 games in the face, 90 with a good half season. The Reds are 37 away from that. They could still go 37-30 and at least have a realistic shot at a wild card.

        Now, to win the division, the Cards and Pirates are both looking at the high 90’s for wins. For 98 wins, the Reds would need 45 wins. That’s playing about 67% ball. I would think that’s hard with any schedule. But, that doesn’t mean the Cards and Pirates don’t slump any themselves, also. Can the Cards and Pirates keep on that pace? The least bit off gives us more opportunity.

        I’m not counting on the division, but it definitely is still within our grasp. The Cards and Pirates will probably have to help, though.

  5. Enough PED talk (although it’s been enlightening, provacative and interesting), let’s get back to the game between the lines.

    *The Reds have 67 games left
    *26 of those are against the Cardinals or Pirates
    *39 of the remaining 41 games are against bad or mediocre kids (the other 2 are against the A’s.)

    On the flip side, the Bucos & Birds also have 26 games against the Reds in addition to their games against each other. Each of the 3 teams competing for the NLCD crown have the opportunity to win or lose the division without any assistance from anyone else. May the best team…blah, blah, blah. The NLCD season starts this weekend at GABP. It’s time top make a statement and that’s not winning a series. It’s putting the Bucos down for the count then moving to the left coast.

    Having Tabata back is a real bonus for the Bucos and he’s been playing good (.333/.378/.476) since coming back from the DL. The Reds need LF (whoever that might be) to step up and produce. Cozart has been hitting good from the #7 hole since Dusty apparently couldn’t ignore or rationalize the black hole in the #2 slot any longer. Meso should have a week to make his case for some serious playing time before Hanigan gets back from the DL. The bullpen is fully rested but the idiotic double header in SF could really put a crimp on the bullpen during this next stretch of consecutive games. If Dusty can utilize Partch to fill some innings and the team can get Marshall back during the left coast road trip with Partch headed back to the Bats, the bullpen should be OK until the next off day.

    I seem to recall a 10 game run the Reds made in the recent past that catapulted them into a division title. Like I said, it’s time to make a statement!

  6. Paul Daugherty doubled down saying that his Votto+Bailey for Blanton was a good idea at the time (before the 2008 season). Just lame.

    He’s continuing the line that Blanton won a lot of games with the A’s and didn’t give up homers (in Yellowstone). He says Blanton won 21 games in 2 years with Philly (is that even good if you like wins?). (And, he had a 4.82 ERA the second year, after a not that great 4.05 ERA the first)

    • @Hank Aarons Teammate: That’s because he’s unintelligent when it comes to baseball trades. Really, baseball in general. It’s not that he doesn’t know about certain stats, he just refuses to admit they matter.

  7. Has the ASB always been 4 days? I could have sworn we usually had games on Thursdays after the ASB.

    • @prjeter: Just a couple years ago, some teams played on Thursday. But now everyone has Thursday off to equalize the break. I remember reading a quote from Dusty back then complaining about having to play on Thursday a couple years in a row. Turns out, all those guys like their time off. 🙂

  8. I read that the Pirates have the biggest difference between FIP and ERA based on that one site you guys like to site here all the time.

    If I understand that, that would lead to the fact that the Pirates pitching has been “lucky”.

    The Pirates pitchers also have the lowest BABIP too per that article.

    If those two statements are true (which they might not be or be very close to being true) then shouldn’t Lucky the Leprechaun be moving from Pittsburgh to another city soon?

    • @rfay00: It’s at FanGraphs. Yes, the Pirates starters’ ERA (3.27) is well above their FIP (3.76). The main culprits are Locke, Liriano and Charlie Morton. Lucky the Leprechaun should have his bags packed.

      • @Steve Mancuso: Is it possible that Lucky stays there the whole season, or does history go against that?

        • @rfay00: The best way to think about the ERA/FIP gap is that the Pirates pitchers haven’t really been pitching as well as their ERA indicates in terms of predicting the last 60+ games of the season. According to the research, the Pirates ERA the second half of the season should be closer to 3.76 than 3.27.

          • @Steve Mancuso: 14 games against the Cardinals should take care of that gap, if the Birds keep batting .350 with RISP. Also, no one has commented on Leake being first out of the gate after the ASB? What a difference a few months make…

          • @Steve Mancuso: That’s actually not entirely accurate. There is a “luck” or batted-ball component to ERA, but Fielding Independent Pitching is just that, fielding independent.

            A lot of what FIP and similar stats are trying to do is take out the component of a pitcher’s ERA that is attributable to the defense.

            In the Pirates case, they are one of the best defensive teams in the league, so while their pitchers might be expected to have higher ERAs on a different team, you can’t just say that we should expect their second half ERAs to go up, if they are pitching in front of the same defensive players.

  9. Right my final 5 in the NL is Pirates, Braves, Dodgers, Cards and Nationals squeezing past the Reds for the final WC slot. With 67 games left, I see the Reds going 32-35 over the final games.

    • @dn4192: Sorry dude. No way the Reds go under .500 the rest of the season. The September schedule is way too easy.

  10. Am I to assume Villareal is pitching the “make up” game in SF?

    I’ve heard Kickham or Zito is pitching for SF. Probably Kickham…which should be a huge advantage for the Reds, but Villareal might be worse.

    The whole make up game really infuriates me.

  11. Why is Bailey in the 3rd spot in the rotation which assures he won’t pitch against the Giants? Seems like he should have pitched Friday so he could have faced the Pirates and Giants.

    • @redsboomer: I’d say because he’s as inconsistent as the spring weather.

    • @redsboomer: You are asking Dusty to actually think a little instead of just react on his gut. He’s trying to reward Leake for his outstanding first half instead of doing the smart thing, which would be to pitch Homer against the Pirates and the Giants. Why? Because he absolutely dominates the Pirates and the Giants.

  12. I wouldn’t say that Arizona and the LA Dodgers are bad or mediocre. The Dodgers have been playing a lot better lately. Clayton Kershaw still pitches for them, and he’s one of the best pitchers in the NL, if not the best. The Mets have some top young pitchers, too.

    • @Steve Mancuso: The Dodgers are 15-5 in their last 20 games.

      • @Steve Mancuso: The Dodgers are a formidable opponent, as you say—their season record is not indicative of having Puig now, and that Greinke missed a lot of time too. Plus they have Nolasco now, who is better than whatever they were throwing out there at that spot.

    • @Steve Mancuso: Arizona has a +9 run differential. I call that mediocre (that is, average). The Dodgers are trickier, but I don’t think Puig makes them world beaters all by himself. Also, his BABIP is almost .500. That’s coming down eventually.

  13. I noticed that Pedro Ciriaco cleared waivers and was outrighted to AAA by KC. Why wouldn’t the Reds grab him and get rid of Izturis?

  14. As for the Pirates series, Latos and HB better bring their A games. I’d say Latos is dew for one. Homer, whothehump knows.

  15. I don’t much stock in these strength-of-schedule analyses. All games are against major leaguers, and any team can and will beat another team not playing well. If the Reds play consistently good baseball over the next 10 weeks, they will likely make at least the wild card. If not, they won’t.

    It’s time to put up or shut up.

    • @Big Ed: It is true that any team can beat any other team on any given game day. But over the course of many games, the better teams will beat the sub-par teams at a fairly good clip. I think last year’s splits are representative of what you’d see each year from playoff bound teams:


      NL playoff teams beat the below average teams at about a 60% or better clip. While against each other, they play about .500 baseball.

  16. Anybody else concerned about the visibly sloppy defense before the all-star break? I don’t know whether it showed up in stats, but to my eye the team didn’t play as well in the field as they did earlier in the year.

  17. Pardon me for saying this, but it’s great having the Bucs in town. Obviously I am a Reds fan first and foremost, but I really do like this Pirates team. Bean-ball aside, they are a good group of guys.

  18. The Reds have their work cut out for them, no doubt. And they only have themselves to blame for their current situation (-5.0 games). The goals are still achievable. The schedule helps somewhat. I keep hearing the manager and the players saying “All we got to do is put it all together.”
    I am afraid though that if we keep waiting around for this manager and this group of players “to put it all together” as they say, that time will run out and the snow starts to fly before that happens.
    Some help is going to be needed. No band-aid August waiver trades like the Edmonds deal a couple of years ago will help. Of the four big players currently on the DL, Marshall is the only one we should count on. Maybe Cueto comes back and can pitch well. But don’t count on Ludwick or Broxton for contributing anything significant the rest of this year. Hopefully, there is a Christmas in July and Walt Kringle brings us a RH LF who can bat 4th or even 2nd. The offense could sure use that extra punch.

    • @WVRedlegs: Yes, I saw an interview with Dusty and he was talking about how it was going to be huge getting Ludwick back because Ludwick is their “RBI guy”. I hope it’s just Dusty trying to stay positive and saying something encouraging about Ludwick for Ludwick’s sake. Dusty has to be smart enough to know that there is a chance that Ludwick isn’t going to be exceptionally productive coming off such a long absence.

  19. FYI:
    Saturday’s game is a Fox Sports national telecast. Gametime 4:05PM, not a night game, nor a Fox Sports Ohio game. I’ll have to adjust my Saturday plans. Suppose to be alot of rain this weekend. Hope they get all 3 games in.

  20. Thinking about the Reds during the break, the thing that occurred to me is that the Cards and Pirates have obvious holes that can be fixed, but the Reds don’t and so we’ll stand pat. That means that while our schedule is slightly better, the teams we’re chasing are probably going to improve, while we’re going to tread water. That makes catching up harder.

    Think about it. The Pirates have gotten a .566 OPS from SS, .672 from RF and .769 1B. Now Tabata coming back changes things, but the guys they have at 1B and SS are nobodies, and they’d be happy to replace them. They are in on Rios and Alexi Ramirez apparently. Tabata I would assume would move to 1B if they got both.

    The Cards have gotten a .571 OPS from Pete Kozma, and they have been connected to Asdrubal Cabrera in one report. Jon Jay is another one that could be replaced, though I think they still like him.

    The problem for the Reds is not that we don’t have players who are struggling (we do), it’s that they are young, homegrown players that we are committed to. This Reds front office isn’t going to throw in the towel on Frazier, Cozart, or Mesoraco because of a down first half. If you assume that they are going to wait for Ludwick in left, where do you improve? We don’t have a guy like Gaby Sanchez or Pete Kozma that is just begging to be upgraded.

    We just have to hope that our RH bats have big finishes.

Comments are closed.

About Jason Linden

Jason has been a fan of the Reds since he was born. He really had no choice in the matter. He has been writing at Redleg Nation for a few years, and also writes and edits at The Hardball Times. His debut novel, When the Sparrow Sings, is available now and concerns baseball, among other things. You can find more information at jasonlinden.com.


2013 Reds, Series Preview


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