The Cincinnati Reds (57-79) may not finish with a winning season, but after last night’s win over Pittsburgh (81-55), the Reds are guaranteed to have a winning 2015 head-to-head record against the Pirates. The Reds have won 10 of the 14 games between these two clubs with five more left to play this season. The Pirates are not only trying to catch the Cardinals for the NL Central crown, but also need to fend off the Cubs, who now find themselves just two games behind the Pirates for the 1st NL Wild Card spot.

STARTING PITCHERS

PITCHER ERA FIP HR/9 BB% K%
Francisco Liriano 3.40 3.32 0.7 9.5% 25.7%
Raisel Iglesias 3.81 3.54 1.0 7.3% 27.1%

Pittsburgh’s Opening Day starter, Francisco Liriano, is making his 27th start of the season. Overall, Liriano’s 2015 numbers look nearly identical to each of the past two seasons with the Pirates. However, his last seven starts have found him in something of a slump. Liriano has a 4.97 ERA with more line drives and less swinging strikes than he had over his first 19 starts. His GB/FB ratio has also flipped from 1.30 to 0.97.

Raisel Iglesias has carried his great string of starts into September, pitching seven consecutive quality starts. He’s thrown seven innings in each of his last four starts and has had double-digit strikeouts in three straight games. Iglesias’ only other start against Pittsburgh was the beginning of quality start streak on August 1 when he allowed two runs in 6.2 innings for his second win of the season.

STARTING LINEUPS
The Pirates lineup:

  1. Gregory Polanco (L) RF
  2. Starling Marte (R) LF
  3. Andrew McCutchen (R) CF
  4. Aramis Ramirez (R) 1B
  5. Jung Ho Kang (R) 3B
  6. Neil Walker (S) 2B
  7. Francisco Cervelli (R) C
  8. Jordy Mercer (R) SS
  9. Francisco Liriano (L) P

The Reds lineup:

  1. Jason Bourgeois (R) CF
  2. Eugenio Suarez (R) SS
  3. Joey Votto (L) 1B
  4. Brandon Phillips (R) 2B
  5. Todd Frazier (R) 3B
  6. Jay Bruce (L) RF
  7. Adam Duvall (R) LF
  8. Brayan Pena (S) C
  9. Raisel Iglesias (R) P

SEPTEMBER CALL-UPS – ROUND 2
With AAA Louisville’s season ending yesterday, the Reds announced the rest of the September 2015 call-ups. Outfielders Billy Hamilton and Brennan Boesch were reinstated from the 15-day disabled list. LHP Tony Cingrani, LHP Brandon Finnegan, RHP Josh Smith, and utility player Kristopher Negron were recalled from AAA.

Billy Hamilton is not in today’s lineup because he is not yet in Cincinnati (as of time the lineups were posted.) He is expected to make it to the stadium in time for the game’s start time.

JOEY VOTTO
An article on Joey Votto at Fangraphs.com yesterday put his 2015 in historical context:
That makes Votto’s 2015 strangely interesting. In a season that includes the Cubs and Mets succeeding, possibly the best rookie class ever, and a Bryce Harper mega-breakout, Votto is quietly having one of the best offensive seasons for a last place team since 1969, when the divisional era began.

Let’s investigate. First, it’s important to put Votto’s season in context. I’ve pulled the 25-best offensive seasons by wRC+ (a metric that captures a player’s overall offensive output compared to league average) since the year 2000; Votto’s 2015 season currently ranks 19th overall.

PLAYING ALL NINE POSITIONS
The AA Pensacola Blue Wahoos clinched their playoff spot prior to the last game of the season. When given a chance for an off day, shortstop Ray Chang opted to play every position instead:

Things got a little dicey in the eighth, though. Chang had never played catcher in his entire career, and was sent out to catch Pensacola closer Zack Weiss — the league leader in saves and the owner of a mid-90s fastball. “Catching [was the hardest] by far,” Chang said after the game. “The hardest part about it is when the ball’s in the strike zone, you know that guy’s going to swing, but you have to keep focused on the ball and not the bat coming through the zone.” Chang made it through OK, though, and even tossed a clean ninth inning.

BROKEN ELBOWS
If you haven’t been following Steve’s great series on ulnar collateral ligament injuries, why not? It’s clear that pitch counts and inning limits, near-universally adopted across Major League Baseball, have not curbed UCL injuries over the past decade. The NL East leading New York Mets are having a very public discussion right now about their ace Matt Harvey, and whether they will shut him down this year like the National did Stephen Strasburg in 2012.

Steve’s latest article explains motion analysis, biomechanics and how advanced technology could be the saving grace for pitching injuries for those teams that utilize it.

OPENING DAY 2016
Looking for a Reds reboot? The Reds released their 2016 schedule today. Opening Day will be on Monday, April 4th against the Philadelphia Phillies.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS
The Reds have a chance to spoil the Pirates post season plans. The Pirates are hoping to at least maintain their wild card lead to host the one game play-in against the Cubs, but would love to overtake the Cardinals in the division. To do that, they’ll need Liriano to shake off his recent pitching woes and get past a hot Raisel Iglesias. The Reds playoff chances may be dashed, but I’d love to see them knock out Pittsburgh.

Go REDS!

Join the conversation! 26 Comments

  1. The Old Cossack is right there with you Greg. I would like nothing better than to sweep the final 5 games with the Bucos and force them to play a one-game, wild card playin in Chicago. I’ll worry about my angst against the Cubbies once the Reds are competitive again and playing for a NLCD championship.

  2. Anybody else think Iglesias stuff reminds them of Mike Leake with more velocity?

    • Not at all.I think the start of their deliveries are similar but other than that, they are completely different styles of pitchers.

    • I hate the low three quarter, elbow whipping arm path of Iglesias. I just see it as a major red flag for possible injury.

      However, it works. So keep at it

  3. xxxxxxxxxxx. I can’t explain how upset I am at the Reds organization inability to scout Andrew Mccutchin. You would think they would make it a priority. Hard stuff away, hard stuff away. Home run to right field…….Wow!!!! Absolute stupidity! Just walk him if you have no clue.

    • I understand the frustration, but when you have not-so-great pitchers throwing to one of the best players in baseball, these things happen.

      How do you think the rest of the NL fans feel when their pitchers continually walk Votto all the time after getting him 0-2 or 1-2?

      • Probably better that giving up a dinger to Joey. Cutch destroys the Reds. Walk him.

        • 0-0 with 4 walks every game to McCutchen is far worse than what he currently does to the Reds.

          • Walk him with men on base, or walk him in a tie or one run game with no one on? Of course it depends on the situation.

        • I don’t think they should walk him. Cutch’a power is to right center. I can tell from my couch he is looking away to short right at great American. He is slow on hard in. It’s like they want him to hit a home run every series. Can someone look up his heat map for home runs? I Know he has at least 2 like this against us. Why leave anything out over the plate?

  4. “Hey–Joey’s walkin’ here! Joey’s walkin’ here!”

  5. Sorry, but I have to ask. I missed the beginning of the game, but noticed that both Votto and Duvall have been plunked with 2 outs and nobody on base. Yesterday, Chapman hit Rodriguez on the foot with a slider in the dirt. Please tell me Hurdle isn’t retaliating out of principle because that’s what he does.

    • He probably is because he’s a simple man.

    • Didn’t look that way from my seat behind the Reds’ dugout. The one to Votto just grazed him and wasn’t that far inside. The one to Duvall looked like it hurt, caught him flush on the lower leg.

  6. I can’t wait for Robot Umps.

    Votto called out on strikes on what should have been a (fairly obvious) 5-pitch walk.

    • Joey was NOT happy about that called 3rd strike, had a few words with the umpire.

  7. What a catch!

  8. I’m watching Nats/Mets right now (a good division race, at least) and it just makes me happy that at least the Reds don’t have the worst manager in MLB.

    • Sticking with Storen is interesting, why is he still in there. Williams may not be around as the manager much longer.

      • Yeah. And I made that comment when he brought Storen in! If you’ll use your set-up guy in the 7th, why not just go ahead and use him instead of bringing in the inferior guys first and letting him walk 2 guys?

        Either way, this series was the barometer for the Nats’ chances I think. After last night and seeing that inning, I don’t think there is any way the Nats’ make the playoffs.

  9. McCutchen was so busy winning, he forgot to stop and think about how to run out of the batter’s box.

  10. Boesch, Hamilton, DeJesus, and LaMarre on the bench and down 5 late. Who does Price call on to put in left field?

    Grit. Of course.

    • The worst part is that he’ll use the double as ‘proof’ that Skip was the right call. He lacks all foresight.

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