Tonight is game 2 of the Reds 3 game series with the Brewers in Milwaukee. The Reds need to clear their heads, take a deep breath and get back in the saddle after last night’s 11-7 stomping administered by the Brewers. The Brewers have scored 35 run against the Reds in 5 games. It would behoove the Reds pitching to find a way to stem this level of carnage.
Righthander Scott Feldman starts for the Reds tonight. After a rough outing on opening day, Feldman has shown signs of settling in as reliable rotation piece in his succeeding 3 starts. In those three starts Feldman has averaged 6 innings pitched per game with a longest outing of seven innings in his most recent start against the Orioles. Over the same 3 starts, the slash line of opposing hitters against Feldman has been just .194/.265/.306; and, he has allowed only 3 earned runs. Feldman is not part of the Reds future but with the young arms struggling to complete enough innings to save the bullpen from depletion, if Feldman continues to pitch as he has in his last three games, he is filling a necessary role for now.
Zach Davies is scheduled to be the Brewers starter. He is a 24 year old rightie who the Brewers hope may be part of their next good team based a solid first full MLB season in 2016 which saw him earn 2.8 fWAR. However, Davies has not had a good start to his 2017 season. He has made four starts but has yet to reach 20 innings pitched for the season. The math says he is just under 5 innings per start; and, there is no single bad outing skewing the number low. Davies xFIP in 2017 is 4.78. His K/BB ratio has fallen to 1.6 from 3.55 for the 2016 season. The opposing hitters’ slash line against him for 2017 is .345/.415/.619, ouch!
A straight up comparison of 2017 numbers, 4 starts for each:
After Monday’s game, Bryan Price acknowledged that he felt strapped by a short bullpen and had left Amir Garrett in longer than he would have liked to because of his bullpen situation. New arrival Ariel Hernandez was eventually brought on to relieve Garrett and pitched a sensational 2.2 innings in his MLB debut. Hernandez was followed by Drew Storen and Michael Lorenzen who both pitched an inning. Storen and Lorenzen are probably available for an inning tonight. All things being equal everybody else should be good for full go. Earlier today, just as with the guy Ariel Hernandez replaced, Lisalverto Bonilla, Hernandez has been sent back to the minors to be replaced by another fresh arm. This time Barrett Astin received the call to come on up.
We need to be alert to the possibility that the reason Price felt constricted by his bullpen situation Monday is that somebody in the pen is nursing an unpublicised “minor” injury of some sort. Also there is the issue of the Robert Stephenson and Cody Reed, two guys who are not clearly relievers or starters but are taking up roster spots. Something may give as soon as tomorrow when a 25 man spot will be needed for announced starter Rookie Davis to return from the DL.
The Brewers used 5 relievers on Monday. Nobody went more than an inning; and, it was a consecutive day of work for only 1 of the 5, Jhan Mariñez. The Brewers pen may not be world beaters; but, manager Craig Counsel seems to have his bullpen rotation figured out.
The Reds did not take my advice to keep Eric Thames grounded. Another day versus the Reds, 2 more HRs for Thames. That’s 2 multiple HR games and 7 HRs in 5 games for Thames versus the Reds. Even when the Reds got around to intentionally walking Thames, he came around to score!
Scott Schebler has had two strong offensive games back to back. Hopefully he is rediscovering the form we saw in August and September of 2016. Zack Cozart continues to hit well. Meanwhile Adam Duvall is scuffling. His slash line over the last week is .148/.143/.407. Monday he ran several deep counts but eventually came up empty. Jeff Brantley noted last night on the Reds radio feed that Duvall seems to have developed a loopiness in his swing which was wasn’t present when he was hitting the ball well early on this season. And a shout out to Stuart Turner who doubled twice in what may have been his last start for the Reds, at least for his current tenure.
One of the things about baseball which has often caught my mind’s eye is how sometimes a particular team seems to dominate another team beyond what we would expect based on performance numbers, outcomes versus common opponents, and overall records. For instance, recall the 2010 season when the Reds went 6-12 head to head against Cardinals but won the NL Central division by 5 games over the Cards.
Right now now the Brewers seem to be on such a run against the Reds. Overall there is only 0.5 games difference between the Reds and Brewers in the standing. Yet the Reds are 1-4 against the Brewers while 9-6 against the rest of field including 6 games with a couple of well regarded teams, the Cubs and Orioles. Against the rest of MLB, the Reds have a run differential of +1.67 runs a game; but, they have a run differential of -2.8 runs a game versus the Brewers. Just short of 40% of all the runs allowed by the Reds in 2017 have been scored in the 25% of their total games which have been against the Brewers. On the flip side, the Reds have scored about 20% of their runs versus the Brewers, whose pitching has been ravaged by other teams. I’m open and eager to hear if anyone has an explanation for this.
In the meantime, the Reds need to reach back and find some of that resiliency I gave them props for yesterday. Tomorrow is an afternoon contest, remember to sleep quick as Jack McKeon always said. Go Reds!