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A chance to gain some ground: Reds series preview

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Through injury and ineffectiveness, the Reds have really fallen off the grid this year. Here's hoping the Brewers can finally take advantage of that.

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Mike McGinnis

The Brewers are finally winning again. Or well, at least they won the previous two games going into this weekend series against the downtrodden Reds. To be fair, the Reds did just win 3 in a row against the Cardinals. So thanks for that Cincinnati, you can stop winning now.

If the Reds offense has anything to say about, they just might stop winning now. Looking at their top position player's (according to MLB.com's depth chart) they only have 2 regulars with above average wRC+. Catcher Devin Mesoraco (153 wRC+) and third baseman Todd Frazier (120). The rest, which you can see here, well below average. They actually cooled down significantly in the last 30 days overall, though Ryan Ludwick and Mesoraco have heated up in the last two weeks.

The Reds bullpen was 11 deep coming into this series, but an injury to Mat Latos forced one into pitching tonight. And actually, another is set to start on Saturday but I'll get into that shortly. Going by fWAR the top two relievers in Cincinnati's bullpen are Aroldis Chapman and Jonathan Broxton and oh...wait. (You actually shouldn't use WAR for relievers but I needed to for the joke. You're welcome.) In all seriousness, Chapman is still crazy dominating. He has a 51.3 K% for crying out loud! That's insane! He does walk a lot, but it really doesn't matter with that K rate. The rest of the Reds bullpen is generally unremarkable.

Friday, September 12th - 7:10 pm CT: Kyle Lohse vs Daniel Corcino

Mat Latos was originally slated to pitch on Friday, but an elbow issue forced him out of the rotation for now. Making the start in his place is rookie Daniel Corcino. Corcino spent most of the year in AA. He made just 1 start (5 IP) in AAA and has pitched 2.2 innings out of the Reds bullpen before tonight's start. Fangraphs did rank him as the Reds 4th best prospect coming into last season, noting his 90-94 mph fastball, and promising slider and changeup. He was ranked 12th in this year's list after a rough 2013 in which he was torched at AAA. He hasn't found success in his limited exposure above AA so it's likely he's not quite ready.

Saturday, September 13th - 6:10 pm CT: Yovani Gallardo vs David Holmberg

David Holmberg is another rookie. He has more experience starting than Corcino, but hasn't found success yet. He's only pitched a total of 15.2 innings (across appearances last year and this year) so we shouldn't read much into his 8.04 ERA. He's a lefty who throws his fastball in the 88-90 mph range and mixes it with a curveball and change-up.

Sunday, September 14th - 1:10 pm CT: Matt Garza vs Mike Leake

Mike Leake isn't a rookie and has found success this year. He has an 18.1 K%, 5.2 BB%, .259 BAA, 1.24 WHIP, 53.9 GB%, and 0.92 HR/9. Overall that's an average stat line which is reflected in his near, but slightly below, league average 3.62 ERA. I'm always a little worried about the Brewers facing a pitcher with a good GB%, but the Brewers have scored 4 runs in each of the games they've faced Leake this year.

Conclusion

The Reds have a pretty anemic offense and have been forced into starting two rookie pitchers with a limited history of success. Friday's starter hasn't pitched much recently so it could present a good opportunity to get into and wear out the Reds' bullpen early. At this point in the season I'll take a win any way the Brewers can get it. Anything can happen in baseball, but I feel like the Brewers have the advantage in this series.

Editor's Note: SB Nation's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $18,000 Fantasy Baseball league for tonight's MLB games. It's $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Jump in now. Here's the FanDuel link!

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs