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.
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.
The Pirates lineup:
- Gregory Polanco (L) RF
- Starling Marte (R) LF
- Andrew McCutchen (R) CF
- Aramis Ramirez (R) 1B
- Jung Ho Kang (R) 3B
- Neil Walker (S) 2B
- Francisco Cervelli (R) C
- Jordy Mercer (R) SS
- Francisco Liriano (L) P
The Reds lineup:
- Jason Bourgeois (R) CF
- Eugenio Suarez (R) SS
- Joey Votto (L) 1B
- Brandon Phillips (R) 2B
- Todd Frazier (R) 3B
- Jay Bruce (L) RF
- Adam Duvall (R) LF
- Brayan Pena (S) C
- 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.
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.
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.
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.