Tonight the Reds (62-82) return to the Central division pennant race in the first of a three game series versus the 2nd place Cardinals (75-68) in St Louis. Back from the living dead, the Cardinals find themselves just 2 games in arrears to the division leading Cubbies and 3.5 games behind the second NL wildcard berth currently held by Colorado. The Reds play the Cards 6 times in their final 18 games which poses an interesting conundrum for Reds fans. Root to wreck the Cards season or to obtain the best possible draft position?
Bob Stephenson gets the ball for the Reds. He will be looking for his 5th win in as many starts. We don’t normally put much stock in wins as measure of pitchers’ performance. However when a guy has been in the dark places Stephenson has traversed these last two seasons it is significant that he is going for his fifth win in 5 games because it means he is staying in games at least 5 innings without rendering them hopeless causes for the Reds. That’s progress. Truth be told, other than his walk rate, Stephenson’s numbers since he was placed into the Reds rotation in late July are solid. The difference between his 3.38 ERA and 4.52 FIP over the span speaks to the fact that unlike in the past, he has been stranding walked batters and has avoided surrendering untimely home runs. Luck or skill? Only time will tell.
Righthander Lance Lynn starts for the Cardinals. Lynn finds himself on the opposite side of the coin from Stephenson over his last five starts. The numbers say he has pitched well, by most measures better than Stephenson; but, his team has lost all five games. Lynn personally has been hung with only one decision in this streak.
Here’s our typical pitchers’ stat table with full season numbers for both starters. Click on the pitcher’s name in the table to see his most recent starts.
Both teams had an off day on Monday. No known issues here.
Jesse Winker returns and leads off for the Reds! Maybe Bryan Price spent his off day trolling RLN for lineup ideas, eh? Adam Duvall drops another spot or two in the order as Price continues to look for ways to get the big guy going. Scan at that Cardinal lineup and consider the names you see versus as recently as just a couple of years ago. I wish the Reds could rebuild by just reloading like this.
News and Notes
In addition to activating Jesse Winker the Reds have added two more pitchers to their active ranks and made a move to create a spot on their 40 man roster for one of the newcomers.
Joey Votto wishing he had a time machine?
In that other corner of Ohio a date with history awaits a certain winning streak if it continues tonight
Tonight the Reds begin what is essentially the last tenth of their 2017 season. While they are long out of contention for a playoff berth, all but three of their remaining 18 games are against teams currently fighting for playoff spots.
How will Bryan Price choose to approach this last segment of the season? In the games versus contenders will he start what he considers his best lineups and manage the game as if he was managing the contending team, even at the cost of getting less of a look at his prospects? And what of the Reds players? Will they rise to the occasion as they did in the recent homestand versus the Brewers; or, will they look somewhat indifferent as they did versus the Mets over the weekend until late in game four of that series?
Finally, what of we fans? I’ve reached a point of relative indifference to the game outcomes myself. I just want to see whoever is on the field for the Reds play their best; and, let the chips fall as may. If they win a bunch games to derail the Cardinals and/ or Cubs, great. If they play poorly and move up in the draft order, fine. Either way, I’m ready for the organization to be about the business of the off season. Just get this club fixed so we don’t endure more of the same old same old again next year for however many consecutive seasons it would be. Go Reds!