The Cincinnati Reds (24-39) begin a four game series at the Atlanta Braves (18-44) tonight at 7:10. This is a battle of the two worst teams in the National League. Or rather, a nicer way of putting it would be the battle for the 2017 #1 MLB Draft pick. If the season ended today, the Braves would pick #1, and the Reds would pick #3. So get your popcorn ready!
The Reds will turn to Daniel Wright to take the place of Alfredo Simon in the rotation. Simon was moved to the bullpen after his last start. Wright has only made one start this season:
5/24 at Dodgers: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 0 HR, 1 BB, 4 K.
Wright certainly doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but Wright has done a great job this season throwing strikes. That is something many Reds pitchers have struggled with. He has walked just 1 batter in 10.0 innings. Wright really dominated in the minors this season. In 34.0 IP between AA and AAA, he posted a 0.79 ERA and 0.65 WHIP, with 32 K and just 5 BB.
Aaron Blair is currently listed as the Braves #4 prospect on MLB Pipeline. He has struggled since being called up April 24th, but hasn’t missed a start since being called up. Blair has struggled with his command, and has yet to put up the high strikeout totals he did in the minors.
The Braves acquired Blair from the Diamondbacks this past off-season. Blair along with 2015 #1 draft pick Dansby Swanson were traded to the Braves for Shelby Miller. That trade so far looks very good for the Braves, as Shelby Miller has a 7.09 ERA/6.62 FIP with the Diamondbacks. Blair was a first round draft pick in 2013 (#36 overall pick). Below is his scouting report, courtesy of Fangraphs.
|50 / 55||45 / 50+||50 / 55||45 / 50+||55|
|1. Zack Cozart (SS)
2. Joey Votto (1B)
3. Brandon Phillips (2B)
4. Jay Bruce (RF)
5. Adam Duvall (LF)
6. Eugenio Suarez (3B)
7. Tyler Holt (CF)
8. Tucker Barnhart (C)
9. Daniel Wright (P)
|1. Mallex Smith (LF)
2. Ender Inciarte (CF)
3. Freddie Freeman (1B)
4. Nick Markakis (RF)
5. Adonis Garcia (3B)
6. A.J. Pierzynski (C)
7. Jace Peterson (2B)
8. Erick Aybar (SS)
9. Aaron Blair (P)
The Reds lineup is pretty standard. Joey Votto enters play with a 13-game on-base streak. Jay Bruce now leads the Reds in OPS (.895) and wRC+ (132). Adam Duvall has slipped a little bit of late (0 for 8 in his last two games). Duvall still a .869 OPS and 126 wRC+.
You might expect that a team with a record of 18-44 record might have a bad offense. You would be right. The Braves are dead last in the MLB in OPS (.613) and wRC+ (66). The Braves team .613 OPS is the worst of any team since the 1972 Texas Rangers (.581).
Freddie Freeman hasn’t been himself so far this year. Freeman is hitting just .242/.336/.414 with a 100 wRC+ this season. A player to watch for the Braves is their leadoff hitter Mallex Smith. He got off to a slow start for the Braves, but put up a .793 OPS in May, and so far has a .809 OPS in June.
Reds sign top pick Senzel
The Reds signed the #2 overall pick Nick Senzel for $6.2 million today. That might sounds like a lot, but that is actually $1.6 million less than the slot value. The Reds also signed their second and third picks Taylor Trammell and Chris Okey. Doug Gray did an excellent job breaking it all down today on Redsminorleagues.com.
I will not suggest rooting against the Reds this series. That would be unthinkable…..even though this series could go a long way towards the Reds getting their
Carlos Correa Stephen Strasburg Bryce Harper Ken Griffey Jr. (Mariners version). So go Braves Reds!
Nick is a lifelong Reds fan who was born and raised in Cincinnati. He acquired his love of baseball from his late grandfather. Nick moved to the Cleveland area in 2014 with his wife, and his currently fighting to convert his beautiful baby daughter Emma to Reds fandom. Nick has been writing for Redleg Nation since 2013. Follow Nick on Twitter @nicholaspkirby.