As I touched on a little this morning in my Three Up, Three Down column, the Reds are now solidly in last place in the NL Central. None of us would have been surprised about this fact entering the season. I’d be willing to bet a few of us would be surprised, however, if someone told us we’d be facing the first place Milwaukee Brewers as the calendar is about to turn over to July. But this is where we are. The Brew Crew are a game above the defending World Champion Cubs, and haven’t really shown any signs of stopping.
It’s a tale of two teams, both of which were in committed rebuilds at this time a year ago. The Reds are firmly still there – even if some fans, and at times seemingly the team’s brass – feel otherwise. The Brewers are at a point where they can start seriously considering calling it quits on the rebuild and start playing for something more than an early draft pick.
None of these two teams’ futures will be decided on the mound today, however. The Reds will look to stop the bleeding against Milwaukee, having gone 2-6 against the Brewers so far in 2017. Here are the starting lineups, news and notes for the first game in the series, scheduled for 7:10 PM tonight.
Starting tonight for the Brewers is Junior Guerra. Guerra entered the year at the top of the rotation, and while others have since stepped up to replace him, he’s still given the Brew Crew a fine season statistically. The gap between his ERA and xFIP is likely due to the high walk rate, matched with the low earned run numbers. He’s stranding 88% of runners that get on base, which is ridiculously good. You’ve got to think this will catch up with him eventually, however.
The Reds will send Tim Adleman to the mound. It seems like every time I get the opportunity to write about Adleman, I always say the same thing. Solid, dependable, not-world-beating. In a rotation with the makeup of the current Reds starting five, you’ll absolutely take that. Adleman has been pretty dang good for the Reds so far this season, a team without a lot to show from its starting pitching. He’s a big reason, alongside fellow non-world-beater Scott Feldman, that the Reds aren’t much, much worse off than they already are.
|2B Eric Sogard (162 wRC+)||CF Billy Hamilton (57 wRC+)|
|1B Eric Thames (137 wRC+)||2B Scooter Gennett (137 wRC+)|
|LF Ryan Braun (122 wRC+)||1B Joey Votto (156 wRC+)|
|3B Travis Shaw (124 wRC+)||LF Adam Duvall (116 wRC+)|
|RF Domingo Santana (116 wRC+)||3B Eugenio Suarez (114 wRC+)|
|C Manny Pina (96 wRC+)||RF Scott Schebler (123 wRC+)|
|CF Keon Broxton (105 wRC+)||C Devin Mesoraco (123 wRC+)|
|SS Orlando Arcia (78 wRC+)||2B Jose Peraza (61 wRC+)|
|P Junior Guerra (6.04 xFIP)||P Tim Adleman (5.01 xFIP)|
It’s easy to see why the Brewers have had a stranglehold on the NL Central lead since May 27. Look at those wRC+ numbers. They don’t tell the whole story, of course, but they go a long way in doing so. Ryan Braun is back in the lineup after missing a month on the DL. He’ll look to continue where he left off, as he was batting .262/.350/.524 before hit hit the DL.
It’s more of the same from Cincinnati. The team’s lowest offensive producer is leading off, getting more at bats than anyone. Can Billy Hamilton truly provide enough speed on the bases to justify continuing to lead off?
News and Notes
The Reds are currently not as good a team as the Brewers. That statement is meant only to reflect the quality of the product on the field today. Injury, timing, and development are all factors that both teams have dealt with, but roster construction has been on the forefront of both teams’ priority lists over the past few seasons. Whether the Brewers current record and play on the field is indicative of them having ‘won’ the NL Center rebuild-off can’t be decided just yet, and won’t be decided in tonight’s game. So sit back, relax, and go Reds!