Welcome to the final game between the Cincinnati Reds (62-86) and Pittsburgh Pirates (74-74) in the 2016 season. The Pirates lead the season series 10-8 and are going for a 4-game sweep this afternoon.
Remember a few minutes ago when the Reds had won five games in a row? Well the Alt-Reds have somehow lost four games since then. I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to doubt our favorite team will play in the postseason.
The game isn’t being broadcast by FSO. I wonder if FSO knows something the rest of us don’t. Question: If none of us see the game, does that mean it didn’t happen?
Ivan Nova and Dan Straily faced each other just ten days ago. Let’s hope for a better outcome today. Nova pitched a complete game, giving up one run and six hits. He struck out six and walked nary a single Reds batter. Meanwhile, Straily surrendered seven hits and three walks over five innings. He struck out six Pirates. Pittsburgh won 4-1.
You want season-long stats? Anything for you, Redleg Nation, with a splash of league average added:
The pitching match-up is a contrast in how to get outs. Ivan Nova is an extreme ground ball pitcher, ranking #6 out of 78 starters in ground ball percentage. On the opposite end of the GB% rankings is Dan Straily, who is #76 out of 78.
Nova’s number is in line with the Pirates’ organizational philosophy to acquire pitchers with good GB% and teach them how to throw even more. The Cubs, Cardinals and Pirates pitching staffs rank in the top eight in MLB in GB%. As a team, the Reds rank #26. That’s not a good fit for Great America Ball Park (or any other stadium). Upon reflection, maybe the Reds should consider changing their organizational philosophy from the one that produced the most home runs in the history of history. Or it’s possible the Reds don’t have an organizational philosophy for pitching. Say what you want about the Pirates moneyball, Dude, at least it’s an ethos.
Straily’s lowish ERA is a product of a BABIP of .238. Even taking into account Billy Hamilton’s nightly magic act of turning extra-base hits into outs, Straily has been one lucky fella this year. Before you fall in love, note his FIP and SIERA for reality-based substance.
Nova and Straily are a bit below average on strikeouts. Nova does have one of the league’s lowest walk-rates. He has thrown 16 innings over two starts against the Reds without giving up a free pass. Straily is just a little worse than average on walk-rate. This is Straily’s fourth start against the Pirates in 2016. Nick Carrington wrote a recent post about Straily’s prospects for next year.
Today’s Reds lineup, with wRC+ added:
Infielder Centerfielder Jose Peraza leads off for the Reds. Ivan De Jesus Jr. gets the start at shortstop. Zack Cozart hasn’t played since Sept. 10.
BILLY’S IMPROBABLE RETURN
Cold water on the prospect for Billy Hamilton to return this year.
Bryan Price on Billy Hamilton returning this year: "I'm not going to say it's impossible for him to come back, but it's improbable" #Reds
— Jeff Wallner (@JeffWallner) September 18, 2016
Any day the good guys can throw another pile of dirt on Pittsburgh’s lackluster season is a day full of promise. Go Reds!
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.