A visit from the lowly Padres has the Reds (48-67) riding a little momentum into the weekend to take on the Brewers (59-58). After holding on to the division lead for the better part of the first half, Milwaukee has been overtaken by the Cubs, as most predicted would happen, and Cardinals. A 9-17 record since the all-star break and a current five-game losing streak has dropped them to third place in the NL Central, but they still sit only two games back as neither team ahead of them has taken control of the division.
Tonight will mark the 11th time these two teams have met this season, with the Brewers currently holding a 7-3 advantage in the series. First pitch is set for 8:10 p.m. ET.
There’s been little middle ground for Homer Bailey in his nine starts this season. In four of his outings, he allowed two runs or fewer and pitched six or more innings. In his other five, he’s given up at least six runs and lasted four innings or less. His most recent outing was not only his worst of the year but also his worst, well, ever. On Sunday against the Cardinals, he surrendered a career-high 10 earned runs on 10 hits and four walks, blowing an early 3-0 Reds lead and lasting only 3.1 innings. The good news is it doesn’t seem to be injury-related, but it was a bit discouraging after he’d thrown arguably his best start of the season five days before against the Pirates (6 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 3 K). It’s just another reminder that coming back from Tommy John surgery isn’t easy.
Bailey vs. Brewers
In his second start of 2017, Bailey was knocked around by the Brewers, lasting only three innings and coughing up six runs, including three home runs.
Here are his career numbers against the Brewers (stats courtesy of Baseball Reference):
Jimmy Nelson is quietly having a breakout season at age 28, developing into the bona fide ace of the Brew Crew pitching staff. The right-hander ranks seventh among all qualified pitchers with a 4.0 fWAR, nearly doubling his previous season high and his overall career total. His ERA is good for 14th, but the peripheral numbers say he’s been even better. He’s seventh in FIP (3.04), sixth in xFIP, and seventh in SIERA (3.32)
How did Nelson go from a pitcher who was barely above replacement level in 2016 to one of the top hurlers in the game this season? The first thing that jumps out is his strikeout rate has gone up significantly from 17.4 percent to 27.3 percent (13th in MLB), and his walk rate has fallen from 10.7 percent to 5.9 percent (also 13th in the league). The reasoning doesn’t lie in better velocity or a new pitch. Instead, a change in his mechanics has led to a new-and-improved Nelson, as FanGraphs’ Travis Sawchik recently wrote about.
Nelson vs. Reds
Nelson has owned the Reds in two starts against them this season, allowing only three runs on eight hits while striking out 16 and walking one.
Here are his career numbers against Cincinnati hitters:
|CF Billy Hamilton (64 wRC+)||2B Jonathan Villar (55 wRC+)|
|SS Zack Cozart (150 wRC+)||1B Eric Thames (121 wRC+)|
|1B Joey Votto (166 wRC+)||LF Ryan Braun (128 wRC+)|
|LF Adam Duvall (112 wRC+)||3B Travis Shaw (131 wRC+)|
|2B Scooter Gennett (127 wRC+)||RF Domingo Santana (115 wRC+)|
|3B Eugenio Suárez (116 wRC+)||C Manny Pina (96 wRC+)|
|RF Jesse Winker (95 wRC+)||CF Keon Broxton (87 wRC+)|
|C Tucker Barnhart (83 wRC+)||SS Orlando Arcia (88 wRC+)|
|P Homer Bailey (5.35 xFIP)||P Jimmy Nelson (3.09 xFIP)|
— Typical lineup for the Reds.
— The Brewers have had one of the worst offenses in the game during the second half of the season. They’re batting .229/.292/.362 with an MLB-worst 67 wRC+ and -0.5 fWAR. The only two regular players with an above-average wRC+ since the break are Ryan Braun and Travis Shaw.
News, Notes, and Pre-Game Reading
Scott Feldman’s knee is apparently healthy enough for him to start Saturday.
Minor transaction to complete the Brandon Phillips trade:
A nice read from John Ring on Lee May, who recently passed away.
Joey Votto will look to extend his hitting streak to 16 games tonight. Here are his numbers during the streak so far:
Nick Senzel update: still raking.
Speaking of Reds prospects, Doug Gray recently interviewed Taylor Trammell:
The road has not been kind to the Reds this season. The team holds an 19-36 record away from Great American Ball Park, including a sweep at the hands of the Brewers in their only visit to Miller Park back in April. While tonight’s pitching matchup seemingly favors a 37th loss for the Reds, the struggling Milwaukee offense could be what Bailey needs to get back on track.