Following a loss in the series opener last night, the Reds (61-80) are back at it tonight to face the Mets (61-79) for the second of four games this weekend in Citi Field. To avoid a losing record, Cincinnati needs to go at least 20-1 over the last 21 games. I think they can do it.
That journey starts tonight at 7:10 p.m. ET.
With Luis Castillo shut down for the season after hitting his innings limit, Amir Garrett is returning to the rotation. The southpaw hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since June 20, spending the last two-and-a-half months in Triple-A Louisville. As most remember, Garrett started the year in the Reds’ starting rotation and was their best pitcher through the first month of the season.
But he was sent down to the minors due to service time reasons and later injured his hip, and he wasn’t the same upon his return. The Reds demoted him back to the minors, where he continued to struggle at times (5.72 ERA, 3.94 xFIP). That is, until his most recent start for the Bats.
Garrett threw a one-hitter on Sunday, striking out 10 and walking only one batter in seven innings. His velocity has been noticeably better in his last few outings, which he’s attributed to finally being healthy, as the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Zach Buchanan wrote about yesterday.
Garrett vs. Mets
This will be Garrett’s first time facing the Mets and any of their current hitters.
A 34th-round pick in the 2011 draft, Seth Lugo made it to the major leagues last season at age 26 and was a stabilizing force at the back-end of the Mets’ rotation, posting a 2.67 ERA (though his 4.67 xFIP indicates he overperformed). The right-hander is highly regarded for his curveball with a ridiculous spin rate. Among pitchers who’ve thrown the pitch 200 times this season, he ranks second with an average spin rate of 3,072 rpm.
But he hasn’t been able to show off his nasty breaking ball much this year because, like most Mets pitchers, he’s been kept off the field due to injuries. Lugo missed the first two months of the year with a partially torn UCL — the same injury Anthony DeSclafani has missed the whole season with — and this will be his third start back from a shoulder impingement. As a result of the arm problems, he hasn’t seen the same results this year (his peripheral numbers are better, however) and even his ridiculous spin rate has dropped from an average of 3,318 rpm last year.
Lugo vs. Reds
Lugo has never faced the Reds or any of their current hitters.
|CF Phillip Ervin (211 wRC+)||SS Jose Reyes (84 wRC+)|
|SS Jose Peraza (64 wRC+)||LF Brandon Nimmo (130 wRC+)|
|1B Joey Votto (164 wRC+)||CF Juan Lagares (89 wRC+)|
|LF Adam Duvall (103 wRC+)||C Travis d’Arnaud (80 wRC+)|
|2B Scooter Gennett (131 wRC+)||RF Travis Taijeron (-3 wRC+)|
|3B Eugenio Suárez (125 wRC+)||1B Dominic Smith (53 wRC+)|
|RF Scott Schebler (105 wRC+)||2B Gavin Cecchini (39 wRC+)|
|C Tucker Barnhart (86 wRC+)||3B Matt Reynolds (66 wRC+)|
|P Amir Garrett (5.06 xFIP)||P Seth Lugo (4.43 xFIP)|
— Tucker Barnhart is back in the lineup, while Zack Cozart is getting a breather in favor of Jose Peraza. Why Peraza is batting second, however, I do not know.
— Check out Phillip Ervin’s crazy wRC+ right now. He’s clearly the greatest hitter who ever lived.
— If you thought the Reds’ luck with injuries was bad, the New York Mets would like to have a word with you. Brandon Nimmo, who hit two homers last night, is the only above-league-average hitter in their lineup tonight. Asdrubal Cabrera (102 wRC+) left last night’s game with a hamstring injury. In his place, feared slugger Juan Lagares is batting third. It’s also been announced that Wilmer Flores (106 wRC+) is done for the year with a broken nose.
News, Notes, & Pre-Game Reading
The Pensacola Blue Wahoos are champions of the Southern League, sweeping the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp in three games:
— Pensacola Blue Wahoos (@BlueWahoosBBall) September 8, 2017
An update on the minor league playoffs from yesterday:
— Doug Gray (@dougdirt24) September 8, 2017
Both Baseball America and Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan released their minor league all-star teams today. Nick Senzel and Tyler Mahle were first-team members for Baseball America, while Jimmy Herget was an honorable mention. In Passan’s piece, Mahle, Senzel, and Taylor Trammell were honorable mentions. You can check out both pieces here:
— C. Trent Rosecrans (@ctrent) September 8, 2017
Most players on Yahoo Sports' All-Minor League Team: https://t.co/T2U59vrgzi
White Sox 6
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) September 8, 2017
MLB.com’s Joe Posnanski and Michael Schur (better known as Ken Tremendous to some baseball fans and Mose Schrute to fans of The Office) started a tournament to determine the “funnest” player in baseball. Billy Hamilton is matched up against Bartolo Colon, and he’s losing pretty badly right now. Go vote here to get him back in the race:
Mike bracket: No. 4 seed Billy Hamilton vs. No. 5 seed Bartolo Colon #funnestplayer
— Joe Posnanski (@JPosnanski) September 8, 2017
Stat of the Day
On the subject of curveball spin rates, let’s take a look at some notable ones for Reds’ pitchers. It’s probably no surprise that Ariel Hernandez ranks 18th among pitchers who’ve thrown a curveball 10 or more times (2,879 rpm), but an unexpected name on the list is Jackson Stephens, who ranks 11th at 2,932 rpm. The meaning of spin rate varies between pitches, but a high one is generally a great thing for curveballs, as it equates to more movement and drop.
Growing up just north of Cincinnati, Matt has been a Reds fan for as long as he can remember. As a kid, he was often found leading the Reds to 162-0 seasons in MVP Baseball 2005 and imitating his favorite players (Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn, Sean Casey, and Austin Kearns) in the backyard. One of his earliest baseball memories is attending the final night game at Cinergy Field. Matt is also a graduate of The Ohio State University and currently lives in the Dayton area. Follow him on Twitter at @_MattWilkes.