The Cincinnati Reds go for a series sweep against the Milwaukee Brewers in this afternoon’s (12:35 pm ET) series finale. The game also gives the Reds a chance to even their home record at 36-36. Losses the Reds have inflicted on Milwaukee the past two days have cost the Brewers the opportunity to make up ground on the NL Central leading Cubs, who lost twice to the Pirates. The Reds have one more series against the Brewers this season. It’s in Milwaukee during the final week of September.
The Reds/Brewers game is one of the two afternoon match-ups being shown by the MLB Network today.
Tonight, the Reds head to New York for a 4-game series with the woeful Mets and then to St. Louis for three games with the new-life Cardinals. Wouldn’t it be great to throw the last shovels of dirt on their 2017 season? But before that fun, we have to stay focused on sweeping the Brew Crew.
Take a long, adoring look at Luis Castillo today. It’ll be the last time you see him pitch in a Reds uniform until Spring Training.
As Chad reported yesterday, this will be Castillo’s 15th and final game for the Reds in 2017. He’s thrown 161. 2 innings this year between AA and the Reds before today. As you know, Castillo (24) has had a tremendous season for the Reds, one of the most encouraging signs for the team next year and beyond. The trade in which the Reds acquired him from the Marlins for Dan Straily is one of the best moves of the rebuilding process. Starting in spring training through his surprising call-up to debut on June 23, Castillo has performed beyond reasonable expectations. Barring injury, he’s a lock for next year’s rotation.
What has made Castillo so effective? His average fastball velocity (97.5 mph) is tied for highest in the major leagues among starters with at least 80 innings pitched. Castillo also keeps hitters off balance with a wipeout change-up. He’s Edinson Volquez only better than Edinson Volquez. When Castillo masters his slider (he’s close now), he’ll be awesome. His swinging-strike percentage (SwStr%) is also among the league’s best. If you aren’t sure whether SwStr% is an important statistic, consider that the top-11 starters in that category include Corey Kluber, Chris Sale, Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, Chris Archer, Zack Greinke and Stephen Strasburg. Castillo’s strikeout rate (K%) is in the t0p-20 for starters with 80 IP.
Castillo has faced the Brewers one time this season, in his second big league game. In 5.2 innings, he struck out 9 and walked 3, allowing 2 earned runs. Expect Castillo be on a short leash today. Bryan Price has cut his appearances short in 2 of his last 3 starts.
Matt Garza (33) is now a much worse version of his former self as a starting pitcher, which wasn’t all that great really anyhow (2011 excepted). Garza has been one of the worst starting pitchers in the major leagues and gotten worse as the season has worn on. The Reds faced Garza less than a month ago in Milwaukee. He went 5.1 innings, striking out just 2 and walking 5.
Here are the lineups for today’s game. According to FanGraphs, the Reds have a 59% win probability today.
|1. Hernan Perez (2B) – 82 wRC+
2. Neil Walker (1B) – 128 wRC+
3. Ryan Braun (LF) – 114 wRC+
4. Travis Shaw (3B) – 123 wRC+
5. Domingo Santana (RF) – 123 wRC+
6. Stephen Vogt (C) – 134 wRC+
7. Keon Broxton (CF) – 88 wRC+
8. Orlando Arcia (SS) – 82 wRC+
9. Matt Garza (P) – 5.26 SIERA
|1. Billy Hamilton (CF) – 66 wRC+
2. Zack Cozart (SS) – 142 wRC+
3. Joey Votto (1B) – 165 wRC+
4. Adam Duvall (LF) – 104 wRC+
5. Eugenio Suarez (3B) – 126 wRC+
6. Scott Schebler (RF) – 105 wRC+
7. Jose Peraza (2B) – 63 wRC+
8. Tucker Barnhart (C) – 85 wRC+
9. Luis Castillo (P) – 3.82 SIERA
The Reds are going with their usual lineup other than substituting Jose Peraza at 2B for Scooter Gennett. Anyone know which team cut Gennett this spring? With Peraza in the lineup and batting 7th, Bryan Price no longer has his worst hitter batting first. /waves tiny Reds pennant/
The Brewers have a different 2B and CF playing today.
News and Notes
• Patrick Kivlehan, who caught my eye in spring training, has excelled in his role this year. Refresher on Kivlehan (27): He played 3B for Rutgers in college, where he hit for the Big East Triple Crown in 2012. He was drafted in the 4th round by the Mariners, who moved him to 1B and then the OF. He bounced around in 2016 (Mariners-Rangers-Mariners-Padres) before the Reds picked him up off waivers during the last week of the season. Back to 2017: Over 169 plate appearances, Kivlehan has hit for power off the bench, with 8 home runs and .187 ISO. The Reds didn’t have any pinch hit home runs in 2016. Kivlehan has drawn walks (10.1 BB%). And he’s played 1B, 3B and all three OF positions. He’s just about everything you’d want in a bench player and should be squarely in the Reds plans for 2018.
• With today’s call-up of RHP Luke Farrell, the Reds now have 18 pitchers on their roster. The Reds claimed Farrell (26) from the Dodgers off of waivers in early August. He made an appearance for the Kansas City Royals in July and soaked up bullpen innings on August 23 in his only appearance for the Reds. He shut out the Cubs for three innings with two walks and three strikeouts.
• Reliever Drew Storen (30) has been unavailable the past few days with a stiff elbow. (Jeff Wallner)
• The Dayton Dragons host Game One of the MWL playoffs vs. West Michigan tonight at Fifth Third Field, at 7 p.m.
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.