The Brewers (55-72) arrive at Great American Ball Park for a three-game series this weekend no longer in last place in the NL Central. Here is a summary of the starting pitching match-ups.

KEY: K/9 and BB/9 are the number of strikeouts and walks the pitcher records in 9 innings. SwStr% is the percentage of their pitches when the batter swings and misses. ERA measures the earned runs that score that are assigned to the pitcher. FIP is a measure of how the pitcher has pitched based on strikeouts, walks, HBP and home runs. xFIP adjusts FIP by normalizing home run rates. SIERA further refines FIP by including an analysis of the kind of batted balls (ground balls, fly balls, line drives) the pitcher has actually given up. (Longer post comparing ERA, FIP, xFIP and SIERA here.) WAR is the FanGraphs estimate for wins above replacement.

The blue and red shading represent when the pitcher is one of the best 12 (blue) or worst 12 (red) starters in the National League in that category. Minimum innings assumed was 80 so that all six pitchers in this series could be ranked. Sixty-three pitchers in the NL met that innings criteria.

Fri 7:10 Age IP K/9 BB/9 SwStr% ERA FIP xFIP SIERA WAR
Yovani Gallardo (R) 27 134.2 6.95 3.54 6.8 4.68 3.99 3.91 4.22 1.1
Homer Bailey (R) 27 164 8.84 2.03 10.8 3.68 3.13 3.15 3.21 3.3

Gallardo and Bailey were both selected in the 2004 draft. They debuted within ten days of each other in 2007, both at age 21. Gallardo certainly was the better pitcher up through the 2011 season. But while Homer Bailey’s trend lines are still improving, Gallardo’s are moving in the other direction. Bailey’s WAR passed Gallardo’s in 2012 (although they were close) and the Reds’ pitcher has clearly been stronger in 2013.

Despite Gallardo’s ranking in the bottom twelve in ERA, he’s dominated the Reds in his two most recent starts, throwing 12.1 shutout innings and giving up only six hits. Bailey, on the other hand, finally threw a good game against the Brewers in his most recent start on Sunday, holding them to one run and three hits over eight innings. His two previous starts against Milwaukee this year were pretty awful.

Sat 7:10 Age IP K/9 BB/9 SwStr% ERA FIP xFIP SIERA WAR
Wily Peralta (R) 24 148.2 5.93 3.51 8.4 4.60 4.19 4.08 4.37 1.0
Bronson Arroyo (R) 36 161.2 5.62 1.45 5.9 3.40 3.97 3.89 4.09 1.6

Peralta has faced the Reds three times this season. In July at GABP, Peralta shutout the Reds on three hits in his only complete game of the year. In May, the Reds beat Peralta, although he had a quality start (barely). But just last Sunday, the Reds rocked Peralta for eight hits, four walks and seven earned runs in four innings. That sort of inconsistency has marked Peralta’s second half.

Arroyo didn’t face the Brewers last weekend, but does have two quality starts from earlier in the year. As you can see, Arroyo gets it done without the usual strikeout rate. His BB/9 is the fourth lowest in the NL. That’s why he’s consistently outperformed the advanced stats in his career with the Reds.

Sun 1:10 Age IP K/9 BB/9 SwStr% ERA FIP xFIP SIERA WAR
Marco Estrada (R) 29 86.1 7.71 1.98 9.8 4.80 4.61 3.84 3.74 0.2
Tony Cingrani (L) 24 90.1 10.06 3.19 10.0 2.59 3.66 3.46 3.31 1.4

On Tuesday, it didn’t look like Tony Cingrani would make this start. He left the game in the fourth inning with a lower back strain. But as of today, he’s been cleared to pitch and is listed as the probable starter for Sunday.

I proposed yesterday that the Reds promote Greg Reynolds from AAA to make this start and push Cingrani back to Monday so he can open the Cardinals series. The Reds could skip Mike Leake (and he’d back up Cingrani) and allow Latos and Bailey to go ahead with their regular starts against St. Louis. Power arms, please. But it looks like that’s not gonna happen.

Cingrani has the highest K/9 rate among all National League starters with at least 80 IP (Mike Leake has the third worst). He beat the Brewers a week ago Thursday in the series opener. He struck out nine, walked one and gave up three hits in 6.1 innings. He also pitched well against the Brewers in July.

Marco Estrada quietly had an outstanding 2012 season, with a 3.64 ERA, 3.35 FIP, 9.30 K/9 and 1.89 BB/9. But he hasn’t been able to follow up with an equally strong 2013. Estrada was sidelined for June and July with a pulled hamstring. He’s made three starts since coming off the DL, with two of them quality.


Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

Join the conversation! 30 Comments

  1. We have an off day Thursday, and 7 out of 10 games played will be against the Cardinals (Thanks again MLB for the brilliant scheduling this year! /sarcasm/). Can someone devise a way to manage the rotation to make sure Bronson pitches none of those games and Latos, Bailey, and Cingrani pitch 6 of them? I think it’s shaping up that Latos and Bailey get two each and the other starters get one each. I don’t think pitching Reynolds Sunday changes that, but I could be missing something.

    Whatever happens, I think they should find a way to call up Reynolds before Sunday. Because having watched the Reds medical staff at work the past two years, I could easily see Cingrani going out, giving up 3 runs in the first and then telling the trainers he’s hurt. Then we scramble to cover, and blow out the pitching staff at the start of a run of 7 games against the Cardinals/3 in Colorado. How about a little proactivity here, Walt?

    • @Eric the Red: Reynolds pitches Sunday. Leake’s start is just skipped (reason: his consecutive bad starts) and Cingrani takes the first game in St. Louis. Latos and Bailey pitch on normal schedule. That at least gets the first series taken care of.

      • @Steve Mancuso:

        I still don’t think that helps out overall when you look at all 7 games. As it is, if Cingrani goes on Monday, then he would be due to go again on Sunday in Colorado, meaning he would then miss the entire 4-game set in Cincinnati. You could skip Cingrani again next Sunday, but Latos would be next in line, and you wouldn’t want him missing the Cards either.

        The only to have the 3 power arms each get 2 starts would be to call up Reynolds for this Sunday, then keep him around all week to make another start next Sunday. Unless you do that, then you would have Leake and Arroyo both going in the 4-game set, meaning you really didn’t gain any advantage. Is it worth 2 starts’ worth of Greg Reynolds to swap one game of Leake for Cingrani against the Cards? I’m not sure it is.

  2. Look for a lot of backups to play against Milwaukee on Sunday: day game after night, 17th game in a 20-game stretch, played against a lesser opponent, with a crucial road series starting the next day.

    Although the order might frustrate us, I think we need to accept the composition of the lineup regardless, and not assume a loss is in order.

    • @renbutler: I wouldn’t mind seeing Hannahan and Izturis start and also Paul in LF. Those guys have to play to stay sharp for pinch hitting. Playing them all at once makes as much sense to me as spreading them out. But that doesn’t excuse batting Izturis second just because he plays SS. He has the worst OBP on the team and should bat eighth.

      • @Steve Mancuso: That lineup is a LOT easier to swallow if the Reds take the first two of the series. If not, I hope they wouldn’t risk losing 2 of 3 to the Brewers before they go on one of the last meatgrinders of the season.

        3 questions:

        Will Cingrani make the necessary innings count to become a qualified pitcher if he doesn’t miss more than one more start for the rest of the year?

        How badly will Reds staff botch the Cingrani injury?

        If he is healthy by the postseason, where do you see the rookie on the postseason roster? He’s definitely going to make it, but probably will come out of the pen, right?

        • @RichmondRed: Agreed on the B Team lineup.

          The rules of baseball stipulate that the pitcher has to throw 162 innings (1 inning per team game played) to qualify for pitching awards. If he stays healthy, he’ll have seven more starts. Cingrani averages about six innings/start. So no, he’ll end up about 20 innings short.

          If he has a real injury, they’re botching it. If it wasn’t anything much, they aren’t. An extra day of rest couldn’t hurt. They’ll know more today after his throws his bullpen session.

          Cingrani will almost certainly come out of the bullpen in the post-season for Dusty Baker. Even if Sean Marshall is healthy and Manny is being Manny. Baker will want three left-handed pitchers in the bullpen. He’s been lobbying for that publicly already. He sees that one batter match-up as more important than what a lefty starter can do. Let alone Cingrani >> Leaky.

          If it was me, Cingrani would be the third or fourth starting pitcher and Leake would be long relief/pinch runner for the post-season.

          • @Steve Mancuso: Agree with using Leake as a reliever in the playoffs. I think he’d be the emergency starter if someone goes down (ala Cueto), he’d be a great specialty pitcher in relief, and (my favorite reason) he’d instantly be our best pinch hitter. Why we don’t use him like that more often is beyond me.

            I believe, our best chance to win in the postseason is a healthy dose of Latos, Bailey, Cingrani, Arroyo starting with Leake in the pen for all of the above jobs.

      • @Steve Mancuso: I wouldn’t mind that either. You know who would? Whoever’s pitching that day. But you know, omelets, eggs, you do the math…

  3. We could go:

    Brewers games 1-3:Bailey, Arroyo, Reynolds
    Cards games 1-3:Cingranni (skip Leake), Latos, Bailey
    Rockies games 1-3:Arroyo, Cingranni, Leake
    Cards games 1-4: Latos, Bailey, Arroyo, Cingranni

    Thant gives Bailey, Latos, Cingranni 6 of the 7 starts against the Cards all with just one “spot start” from a minor leaguer and skipping Leake one turn.

    LaRussa would do this but would Dusty???

    • @warpig: That’s a solid plan. Yes, the Cardinals would do it, but no, Baker won’t. He won’t want to “disrespect” Mike Leake. You know what they say about nice guys ….

      • @Steve Mancuso: I am with u 1,000,000% I do not want to see Leake or Bronson pitching against the Cardnials. The odd thing though Homer has struggled against teh Cards hasn’t he?

    • @warpig: OK, that works for me :-). There’s no way Dusty would do this or anything like it, however.

      One “good” thing about Leake’s recent struggles is that I hope it will lessen the likelihood of him getting a playoff start over Cingrani. I like the guy and hope he’ll keep developing, but I don’t trust him against a disciplined lineup or on a day when the ump has a tight strike zone.

      • @Eric the Red: I agree 100% with this. I love Leake, I think he’s a “gamer” (whatever that means), but I’d much rather have Cingrani’s ability to K people in a playoff game over Leake.

        What are your thoughts on a 3-man rotation for the NLDS? Latos, Bailey, Arroyo, with Cingrani ready to come in if any of those 3 guys get in trouble. That means Latos/Bailey would have to start games 4 and 5 on one day less rest than usual.

    • @warpig: Whatever we do, we need to keep Latos on track to be the Wild Card starter — which he currently will be if nobody skips a start.

      • @renbutler:

        Agreed. If we absolutely need to win a game, Latos is the guy I want out there (even with a healthy Cueto). Jocketty, lock him up NOW.

      • @renbutler: Latos would be my #1 choice for a loser go home game (with Bailey a close second). It all depends on the standings the last week of the season. If spots and home field are already set, by all means, work it out to get Latos in that one-game play-off spot. If we are still playing for home field in the wild card or to win the division, you just go for it and let the rotation fall where it might. With that new 1-game wild card format, I’d much rather win the division.

        One aside however, is it easier to beat the Cards ONCE in a wild card game, or FOUR times in a divisional series? I say once but you’ll have to beat Wainwright most likely.

        • @warpig: Based on pitching alone I’d have to go with the series being easier. The Reds have a deep rotation, deeper than just about anyone, which set them up well against teams 3rd, 4th, and 5th starters. But our best pitcher (Latos) is still a tick behind other #1s.

    • @warpig:

      Well, that would be one way to do it with Reynolds only making one start, but that would definitely be a LONG layoff between starts for Leake. He would end up with 10 days’ rest between this past Wednesday and next Sunday.

      Again, not saying I don’t agree with you all in trying to avoid would could be a bloodbath come Monday night. I have the least faith in Leake of any of our five starters right now, especially against the Cards.

    • @warpig: If there was a way to shuffle the rotation around an off day, skipping Leake or whoever and keeping the rest on their normal schedule, that would make sense to me.

      I don’t like the idea of bringing up Reynolds to make a start when we don’t have to though. It’s good to beat the teams ahead of you, but mathematically a win is a win, and we need all that we can get.

      The way to maximize wins in the long run seems to be to have your best pitchers make as many starts as they can.

  4. Looks like a good chance to gain a game tonight. Bumgarner vs Morton out in San Fran seems to scream for a Pirates loss. If the Giants don’t get this one, they may get swept.

  5. I don’t really get all of this rotation shuffling. Wins are wins still, right? Does putting ourselves in position to lose against the Brewers with Reynolds help us catch the Cardinals and Pirates?

    Our teams’ greatest strength this year is that we have 5 quality starting pitchers. Latos is the only one with any success this year against the Cardinals. Cingrani and Arroyo have ERAs in the fives against them, Leake and Bailey have ERAs in the nines against them. So there doesn’t really seem to be any particular matchup that I would want to get.

    If they determined that Cingrani or Leake (or any starter for that matter) would be better with an extra day of rest, then sure, you make that call if you feel like it’s warranted. Other than that, I would just keep guys pitching on turn, and try to win every game.

    • @al:

      You’re right in that wins for the Reds all count the same. But a win against the Cards is not just a win for us, but a loss for them. It is effectively a 2-game swing in the standings. That is why a win on Monday is more important than a win on Monday.

      If there was one pitcher I would want to avoid using against the Cards, it is Leake.

      • @docmike:

        I meant a win on Monday is more important than a win this Sunday.

      • @docmike: I get that, and it’s a good point that we want to cause the Cards to lose as much as possible. I would be down to skip Leake in the rotation if we had an off day, but sadly we don’t right now because of this crazy scheduling.

        I don’t think it’s worth risking bringing up a potentially terrible pitcher just to avoid Leake in the Cards series. Leake is our worst starter probably, but he’s not bad. There’s every reason to believe that he can have a quality start against the Cards, so why sacrifice a win to the Brewers?

  6. How nice is it that Latos & Homer are now in the conversation as to who you’d want to have start a “must-win” game. You couldn’t say that a year ago. You’d have thought losing Cueto was curtains.

  7. They may have to call up Reynolds anyway as Cingrani might not be able to go on Sunday.

    Tony Cingrani (back) threw a 12-pitch bullpen session Friday.
    Cingrani is still dealing with discomfort in his lower back and his availability for Sunday’s start remains in question. The Reds have yet to make an official decision on his status and continue to list him as day-to-day. Aug 23 – 5:10 PM
    Source: John Fay on Twitter

    • @Hunt4RedsOctober: They need a backup–sorry about the pun–plan regardless. It’s very easy to imagine Cingrani starting and then having trouble. We could call it “pulling a Cueto” or “throwing a Broxton”. As in, “The Reds medical staff said Cingrani could pitch, but he threw a Broxton and had to come out in the third inning”.

  8. I really hope they don’t take any chances with Cingrani’s injury. If he is not 100% he shouldn’t pitch. Better for him to sit one game now than 5 games later.

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About Steve Mancuso

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky's Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve's thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.


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