It was almost exactly one month ago that the team with the best record in Baseball came into Great American Ballpark and left losers of 2 of 3. Today, the task gets tougher.

It’s now the San Francisco Giants who own Baseball’s best record at 37-20 and they just got done taking it to the St. Louis Cardinals. If you have nightmares about the Giants, it’s understandable. If you’re tired of hearing about Buster Posey, it’s understandable. If you want to see the Reds exact a little revenge over the next four games—it’s understandable.

I am and I do.

So, read this and feel a bit better.

Your job, Mr. Phelps, should you decide to accept it, is to take the series and  keep heads above water until Joey and Mat return.

The years the Reds were winning their division championships, the Giants were going on to win world championships. In fact, in some ways, they are the model of how the Reds hope to win going forward: outstanding pitching carrying the day, with just enough hitting thrown into the mix.

Except now, they’re plating runs better, too. Despite being 9th in the NL in AVG (Reds, 11th) and 10th in OBP (Reds, 13th), the Giants are 4th in the NL in Runs (Reds, 14th),  and 5th in OPS (Reds, 12th). Below are their ranking for all of baseball:

giant rankings 2014

Player Pos AVG HR RBI OBP SLG OPS
A. Pagan CF .327 3 17 .366 .447 .813
H. Pence RF .284 7 21 .357 .453 .810
B. Posey C .264 7 26 .340 .402 .742
P. Sandoval 3B .251 8 25 .304 .430 .734
M. Morse 1B .295 11 38 .351 .574 .925
T. Colvin  LF .260 1 7 .315 .520 .835
B. Hicks 2B .178 8 20 .300 .368 .668
Crawford SS .236 6 26 .308 .423 .731

Giant’s on/off the DL

Posey has had a bad back and just returned for the Cardinal series. Brandon Belt is out with a broken left thumb. Marco Scutaro is out indefinitely with a back injury.

The Bench

Hector Sanchez, Tyler Colvin, Gregor Blanco, Brandon Hicks and Arias make up a solid bench. Advantage Giants.

The Projected Starters

The Giants have lost Matt Cain to a balky hamstring and fortunately, the Reds will miss Tim Hudson this time around. Madison Bumgarner is pitching particularly well this season. His strikeouts are up and his walks are down. Giants starters have the 5th best ERA in the NL at 3.28. The Reds starters are 2nd in the NL at 3.19. Advantage Reds.

giants pitchers 2014

Pitcher ERA WHIP
Tuesday 7:10pm
Tim Lincecum, RHP 4.18 1.54
Homer Bailey, RHP 5.04 1.51
Wednesday 7:10pm
Ryan Vogelsong, RHP 3.45 1.28
Tony Cingrani, LHP 4.01 1.46
Thursday 12:35pm
Madison Bumgarner, LHP 2.85 1.25
Mike Leake, RHP 2.92 1.06

The Bullpen

Sergio Romo still closes for the Giants. Romo has been shaky lately, but for now, his job is safe.

Jean Machi, Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla, Javier Lopez, Yusmeiro Petit and David Huff round out the pen.

Here’s how the bullpens stack up:

Team IP ERA FIP xFIP BABIP
Giants 176.0 2.51 3.32 3.42 2.56
Reds 135.1 4.32 4.14 4.07 .296

The San Francisco Giants have not lost a series in over a month.  Should you fail to win the series, Mr. Phelps, the local media will disavow any knowledge of your existence in the NL race. This post will self-destruct in 5 seconds.

Good luck, Jim.

Father. Iowa born, Kentucky raised, NYC finished. I write about baseball. I wonder what Willie Shakespeare would have written had he met Willie Mays. Richard resides in protective custody at an undisclosed location in New Jersey.

Join the conversation! 16 Comments

  1. There must be something wrong with the stats used in that Colorado Rockies blog link. The notion that the Reds hitters have been league average in high leverage situations the last four years doesn’t square with the nightly screeds from the Reds’ broadcasters that the team hasn’t had a single clutch hit over that entire time.

    • It’s not that they’ve been league average, it’s that they’ve been as good as they are in other situations.

  2. Lineups are posted for tonight’s series opener. Hamilton returns to leadoff and CF. The LF platoon continues with Schumaker hitting against Lincecum and Pena playing 1B. The Reds need a healthy and productive Votto back in the lineup, but his return means Pena goes to the bench, so Votto should be activated only when he is ready to play at a productive level. Latos should get his next rehab start on Wednesday after throwing 80 pitches last outing. If all goes well, Latos next start should be for the Reds.

    • I’m as ecstatic as anyone about the job Brayan Peña has done hitting and filling in. And I agree that Joey Votto shouldn’t come back until he’s healthy enough to be productive. But just to keep the two in perspective, Peña’s (nearly career-high) OPS is .753 and Votto’s (career low) OPS was .859 this season, before going on the DL.

      • This makes me think of following(apologies if this isn’t accurate):

        Louis Prima: With all the great players playing ball right now, how well do you think you would do against today’s pitchers?

        Ty Cobb: Well, I figure against today’s pitchers I’d only probably hit about .290

        Louis Prima: .290? Well that’s amazing, because you batted over .400 a… a whole bunch of times. Now tell us all, we’d all like to know, why do you think you’d only hit .290?

        Ty Cobb: Well, I’m 72 @#@#% years old you @$%!

        That pretty much sums up how I feel about Votto when he’s injured.

      • Heh. That’s a very nice use of data to make a very important point.

  3. They should get tonight’s game in with no problem. Maybe a few rain sprinkles. Tomorrow is a whole different story. Heavy rain and thunderboomers forecasted. Looks like maybe two games on Thursday. I hope it doesn’t end up like last year where they had to have the makeup game in SF.
    Homer is on point tonight. Like those chances.

  4. Since 2/3 of the starting pitchers are RH, SChumaker should get a lot of playing time going forward, especially if he can start hitting regularly. Ludwick and Heisey will fight for playing time against the LHP, with Heisey also filling in on the occasional off day for Bruce and Hamilton. The very best outcome would be Ludwick getting sizzling hot again and seizing the LF position, but I just don’t see that happeneing. I hope Votto’s groin gets completely healthy and Votto returns from his rehab ready to play very soon, so the Big Lutz can get some regular AB, even if he’s playing for the Bats.

    • Agree about Lutz, they should not have brought him up to sit on the bench. Should have just kept Soto if all they wanted was an emergency first baseman. Lutz needs to be playing at AAA right now.

  5. This series and homestand is the make or break point in the season for the Reds. If they can somehow win all three series, I think it will be the launching point of huge run to get back into the race. If they flame out this homestand, you can stick a fork in them. They’re done.

    • I think there’s still some middle ground. If the Reds are over .500 at the all-star break, they can still make a run in the second half.

      That said, if the Reds drop 8 or 9 of the ten at home, then yeah, they’re probably done.

  6. A lot of discussion surrounding the Reds atatus as buyers or sellers, with most sentiment leaning to sellers this season. The Old Cossack is on record that I don’t think they will pull it out this season, but what if they can and do make that run, beginning with this 10 game home stand and finishing their run by spanking the Brew Crew when they hit the road after this homestand? As disappointing as the Reds season has been, the Rays have almost completely tanked and now Will Myers is out for 2 months. If the Reds get Votto and Latos back and begin a monster run against the NL and the Rays chuck it in and start selling, how much might a year and a half of 33-year-old Ben Zobrist be worth to the Reds?

    Zobrist is in the midst of a 2-year decline and $7.5MM for a super utility player might be a little steep, but this is Ben Zobrist we’re talking about and he might be the absolutely perfect fit for the Reds for the next year and a half until the prospects start showing up. With a Schumaker, Zobrist, Heisey and Pena available for bench flexibility and production, the Reds lineup suddenly starts looking very dangerous. Because of his age and declining production, maybe the cost isn’t that much as long as the Reds will shoulder his salary. It’s the kind of move a real contender might consider.

    • I’m sure I’m in here from years ago touting the virtues of a Mr. Zobrist back before he was a well known quantity. I like the idea. I still think he has something in the tank, it solves bench issues, and, wait for it………he’s gritty.

  7. I know it’s less fun to speculate about but I really feel like the only thing the Reds lineup needs to feel dangerous is Bruce and Votto hitting baseballs. If that happens and we still have Mez/Frazier rolling along.. we’re gonna score runs.

  8. had to look up the jim phelps reference. god you guys are old 😉

    • Ha! Excellent.

      But Martin, what makes you so sure I wasn’t referencing the Tom Cruise Mission Impossible series?

      I’m not old. I’m current.

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About Richard Fitch

Father. Iowa born, Kentucky raised, NYC finished. I write about baseball. I wonder what Willie Shakespeare would have written had he met Willie Mays. Richard resides in protective custody at an undisclosed location in New Jersey.

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