The Cincinnati Reds (15-29) will look to continue their 2018 dominance of the Chicago Cubs (22-18) this weekend in Great American Ball Park. Despite their poor overall record, the Reds have eviscerated their division foes, going undefeated against the NL Central favorites this year. The two teams will meet for four games in three days, with the opener kicking off tonight at 7:10 p.m. ET.

Starting Pitchers

Jon Lester 44.0 2.66 4.86 19.2% 10.6%
Homer Bailey 48.1 5.59 5.27 13.4% 6.9%

If you just glanced at Jon Lester’s ERA, you’re probably thinking he’s having another typical season. Despite the positive results, he hasn’t looked like his usual self in 2018, however. He’s struggling to strike out batters — his strikeout rate hasn’t been this low since 2012 — and his control is the worst it’s been since his rookie year in 2007. The left-hander’s velocity has also declined incrementally over the last two seasons and is down to a career-worst 90.7 mph in 2018. He’s also allowing hard-contact at a career-high rate (34.1%) and his groundball rate is down significantly (37.6% vs. a career 46.8%). In other words, Lester looks very hittable and the ERA is bound for regression, barring any significant changes. That could bode well for a Reds offense that has come around since an early-season funk.

Lester vs. Reds

Even while he was posting a respectable ERA, Homer Bailey’s peripherals indicated regression was coming. It has arrived in full force. Over his last four starts, Bailey has lasted only 19 innings and allowed 18 earned runs and 31 hits, including eight home runs. Hitters are barreling up ball after ball against Bailey, with his hard-contact rate topped by only eight other qualified pitchers. He’s also continuing to struggle with missing bats, with his strikeout rate ranking 92nd among 95 qualified pitchers and his swinging-strike rate (7.1%) ranking 89th. While his velocity has been fine, sitting between 92 and 94 on most nights, his secondary pitches simply aren’t getting the job done either. All of his offerings have negative pitch values, according to FanGraphs, with his splitter seeing a particularly large drop in effectiveness. If Bailey doesn’t turn it around, the Reds are going to face an interesting decision on what to do with him. His contract locks him up through 2019, but the team has too many talented arms to let him continue to get shelled for the next year-and-a-half. Chad Dotson believes Bailey’s landing spot should be the bullpen.

Bailey vs. Cubs



RF Ben Zobrist (108 wRC+)
3B Kris Bryant (175 wRC+)
1B Anthony Rizzo (83 wRC+)
C Willson Contreras (134 wRC+)
SS Addison Russell (93 wRC+)
LF Kyle Schwarber (127 wRC+)
2B Javier Baez (125 wRC+)
CF Ian Happ (95 wRC+)
P Jon Lester (-38 wRC+)


SS Jose Peraza (73 wRC+)
2B Scooter Gennett (143 wRC+)
3B Eugenio Suarez (159 wRC+)
1B Joey Votto (138 wRC+)
LF Adam Duvall (83 wRC+)
RF Jesse Winker (95 wRC+)
C Tucker Barnhart (123 wRC+)
P Homer Bailey (-72 wRC+)
CF Billy Hamilton (73 wRC+)

  • Some lineup shakeups tonight, as Joey Votto is batting cleanup for the first time since May 15, 2014. There are two sides to this coin, of course. The argument for this move is Votto will (hopefully) have more runners on base in front of him to drive in. The downside is Votto gets fewer plate appearances. Personally, I’d flip Votto and Scooter Gennett, but I’m also not a major-league manager so what do I know?
  • Jesse Winker slides down to the six hole, presumably because a left-hander is on the mound.

News, Notes, & Pre-Game Reading

The Reds bullpen has been pretty, pretty good of late.

Dilson Herrera keeps raking in the minor leagues. It will be interesting to see what the Reds ultimately do with him because he has the talent to be a major-league hitter, by all accounts.

Cliff Pennington is now a free agent.

Stat of the Day

Hitting the ball has always been important, but now we have a way to measure it as way to determine the best batters in the game thanks to Statcast. The Reds have quite a few players capable of hitting some frozen ropes, but no one has done it more consistently than Eugenio Suarez this season. His average exit velocity of 92.2 mph leads the team and ranks 30th in baseball out of 282 players with 50 or more batted balls.

No Reds player has hit the ball harder in an at-bat this year than Jesse Winker, who lined this double at 114.1 mph against the Twins on April 29.

Final Thoughts

The Reds are playing much better baseball these days, looking much more like the team most people thought would show up when the year began. Better pitching has, for the most part, fueled the recent success. Bailey has been the lone exception to that. Let’s see if he can get his season back on track tonight.

67 Responses

  1. David

    Odds are Homer gets lit up again tonight, but the Reds will battle back but still come up short.Homer give up 6 runs in 4 plus innings of work. The bullpen holds them to 2 runs over the next 4 plus innings, and the Reds rally against Lester, but are snuffed out
    Final score: 8-5, Cubs.

    Batting order: Notice it is righty-lefty, righty-lefty right down the order? That clever Riggleman.

    I call them as I see them, and if I don’t see them, I make it up.

  2. docproctor

    I was rooting for the Cubs to have a long, rain-delayed slugfest in Atlanta last night, in which they exhausted their bullpen and dragged into Cinci at 5 in the morning. Instead, they rained out–so we get Lester and a fresh bullpen. Bummer..

    • renbutler

      Not looking good at all, but playing at some point is not completely out of the question.

    • renbutler

      Not looking good. Playing ball tonight at some point is not out of the question though.

      • renbutler

        Sorry for the double post. My posts weren’t showing up there for a few minutes.

  3. Sliotar

    When the pre-game comments are filled with wise cracks, I take that as a good sign.

    A good omen or sign might be needed tonight….the NL leader in RBIs is hitting 7th tonight in the Cubs lineup. Woof. That is some depth.

    Go Redlegs.

  4. Jack

    Wow shaking that lineup up. Hopefully they run on Lester.

  5. Jeff Reed

    At least Winker is in the lineup. Can Bailey get beyond the 5th. inning?

  6. docproctor

    Cincinnati Reds
    Verified account

    2 minutes ago

    Our delay will continue and we will update again at approximately 8:00 p.m. ET. #Reds

  7. seat101

    Thank you Dr. Does it seem to you there are more fractured fingers this year than in years past?

    • docproctor

      Sorry, wrong kind of doctor. 🙂

  8. Shchi Cossack

    The Old Cossack is in the mood to watch a good ballgame tonight, so here’s hoping the rain yields to baseball and a good game results.

    Winker needs to start barrelling up some balls consistently and start hitting LH pitching. He’s in quite an extended funk.

  9. earl99

    Not surprised Rizzo hits Bailey well, he seems to clobber whoever the Reds have pitch to him.

    • seat101

      I’m going to see the 9 o’clock showing of Deadpool. Game will probably still be going when I get out. Unless there’s no need to play the bottom of the ninth

  10. james garrett

    Just brutal to watch Homer right now.

  11. Indy Red Man

    Some rainy batting practice tonite…prob for only the Cubs. Took the Cubs Over 2.5 in the first 5 tonite….just switched the same bet that was so profitable with Finnegan. They’ll prob get it in the first inning. Homer is not getting back what B- game he ever had to begin with. Just pay the man and send him on his way because he’s in the way of guys the Reds need to see!

    • MrRed

      Yikes, Indy! A little harsh. He hasn’t been good in a while but one of only 26 MLB pitchers ever with 2 no hitters under his belt and before he was plagued with injuries in his prime stood to pick up still more.

      Not saying he was all time great but trying to put things back into perspective. In the here and now, he’s not part of the future and I wish both sides could find a way to move on.

  12. james garrett

    Just batting practice right now.

  13. Jack

    Bailey is not good so far. Hope the rain comes.

  14. Sliotar

    Indy, nice bet!

    Looking at Matt’s preview, it did look shaky seeing how Homer was going to navigate that lineup 2 full times.

    Seat should have stuck around…..the showing of Deadarm started here at 8:40.

    • Indy Red Man

      Yeah this makes 6-0 with the same bet. I rode Finnegan because he never earned his way into the rotation and was bad at Lville. Homer is in the same boat….only in because they were dumb enough to pay him $100 mil

  15. Jack

    This is getting out of hand. Bailey has nothing.

  16. james garrett

    He won’t make it out of the first inning.

  17. Darrin

    where do you hide Bailey at this point

  18. docproctor

    I hate leading off a series with Homer. This is brutal.

  19. J

    Bailey will be fine. He just needs another 40 to 50 starts to work out a few kinks. Sometime in August 2019 he’s going to pitch six quality innings and it will all be worth it.

  20. Jack

    Only 24 pitches in the first inning for Homer. That’s all the positives I have for him.

  21. Indy Red Man

    Peraza with a .539 ops for May coming into tonite. He put together a nice hot streak but its very debatable on whether he’ll ever be even average offensively.

    • MrRed

      Reds analytics department says he’s a burner and can lay down the bunt so he bats leadoff. Just kidding…it was a coin flip between he and Billy.

      And I’m just kidding about all of that. The Reds may have an analytics department but their input is disregarded by the organization.

      • Jack

        LMAO. So true though that it makes you want to cry.

    • Darrin

      I really think he has a few bad games and loses confidence.

  22. Jack

    Lester has thrown more pitches in the first than Homer. He leads 3-0. Go figure.

    • james garrett

      Lester has to nibble some and Eugenio had an 11 pitch at bat.Homer’s velocity hitting 95 but he doesn’t appear to know where it is going.

  23. MrRed

    Is the comments feature in a rain delay tonight?

  24. Indy Red Man

    Homer is this years Arroyo….they just keep beating the dead horse like he’s going to spring to life and win the Kentucky Derby. Don’t let the flies and vultures change your mind!

  25. docproctor

    I swear, Homer looks like he’d rather be anywhere other than out there on the mound.

  26. Indy Red Man

    They have Garrett as a possible starter. Bob Steve with 5 ip tonite, 1 er, 7 Ks and no walks! His era is 3.67. Lorenzen might work out as a starter. They have other options and they’re all better then Homer.

  27. Scott

    Does anyone besides me think Homer just doesn’t give a dam?

    • Indy Red Man

      He got upset last week when they took him out….3 runs on 10 hits in 5 innings is a good outing for him and he didn’t want to come out. I think he just knows he doesn’t have it and when they start scoring then its “Oh #$&$#^#… we go again”

  28. Old-school

    Homer Bailey is a sunk cost
    He can’t get opposing batters out .. just because the Reds pay him $22 million a year, doesn’t mean he can pitch effectively .
    Apparently the Reds think he has to pitch because they pay him to pitch.

    If Castellini spent $20 million on vegetables that were found to be infected, would he still sell them to the public?

    • Indy Red Man

      Tonite will make the Reds 1-9 in Homer’s 10 starts. Just cut him loose already! You can’t be horrible and be a leader so he really has no veteran qualities to pass on either. They have too many younger guys that need a shot! Too many guys that they need to make a decision on like Bob Steve, Reed, etc.

  29. Redsfaned

    Would someone please pour ice on the dugout step so Bailey can fall, get hurt and go on the DL.

  30. Old-school

    Joey votto looks ready to be traded.

  31. Old-school

    Joey votto looks ready to forego his no trade clause.

    • Darrin

      We’d better hope that’s not the case

  32. Darrin

    It’s a real bummer for bailey, promising career cut down by injuries.

  33. james garrett

    Just tuned back in and it looks like the whole team wants to be traded.One hit off of Lester who can’t break 90 any more but again he is a lefty.

  34. Jack

    Not bad tonight for Homer. Only gave up 10 hits. Nobody got hurt by those missiles that were coming off the Cubs bats either. Only gave up 3 more runs after the first. Blaargh

  35. james garrett

    Won’t happen tonight.Lester saying here’s 88 or 89 and hit it but we can’t.Duvall of course hit 88 out but that was it.

  36. J

    This is what irrational behavior looks like. If Bailey has a normal contract, there’s no way the Reds keep running him out there every five days. He hasn’t been good for four years, and he’s looking worse than ever. So, in order to “get their money’s worth,” they’re essentially willing to lose almost every game he starts. Meaning fewer fans will attend those games, fewer fans will stay in the park until the end of those games (how many Reds fans could possibly sit through this?), the team will lose more games overall, and none of the young pitchers are being helped by this in any way. It’s not just lose-lose, it’s lose-lose-lose-lose-lose — all because they can’t just admit they made a mistake and drop him (or at least put him in the bullpen) like any rational business operation would have done a long time ago.

  37. RedsFanEd

    After watching this game, I’m wondering if the Reds could hit Bailey, even as bad as he was tonight?
    On the brighter side, Stephens has put up zeros, so there’s that.

    • james garrett

      Nope they couldn’t.Its just an all round ho hum effort by our guys tonight,It happens and as Dusty always said we will get em tomorrow.

    • CI3J

      There was a stat that popped up during the game that said the Reds have the #1 offense in the NL for about the past month. I’m willing to bet they would clean Bailey’s clock.

  38. WVRedlegs

    Tonight should have been Zombie Night. The Reds have walked through this game like a bunch of zombies. No life in anyone. The fans have lost interest and now the players have lost interest. Ownership doesn’t care. What a cess pool ownership had created.

  39. james garrett

    Riggleman knows it as well he just threw in the towel by letting Stephens bat.Double header tomorrow may have something to do with it also.

  40. Scott Gennett

    What to do with Homer?
    a) Send him to bullpen
    b) Trade him for a bucket of baseballs (with all remaining salary paid by Reds)
    c) DFA
    d) Offer him a FO position

  41. seat101

    Deadpool was great. Looks like I picked a good night to avoid a Reds’ game.

  42. CI3J

    Scooter gonna Scooter at 2B.

    Really wish they’d try him in CF, just to see if he can do it. If he can, wow, this offense could be really something when Senzel comes.