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Brewers (33-48) @ Reds (36-41) series preview

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I don't care what the standings say, I still think the Reds are the worse team.

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

The Brewers are five games back of the Reds who are 22nd overall in baseball. In between them in the overall MLB standings are 6 teams. The Atlanta Braves are 19th in baseball and exactly 6 games ahead of the Brewers. Why does any of this matter you ask? It matters because 19th in baseball overall said another way is 11th overall in the 2016 MLB draft.

The Brewers are 6 games back of falling out of the top 10 draft picks (Technically they'd fall to 12th because the Padres and Braves are tied and each owns the tiebreaker over the Brewers). This series with the Reds is an important one. But for shitty, "I hate thinking about baseball this way," reasons. It's important because it's in the best interest of the future of the franchise for the Brewers to finish with the highest draft pick (and lowest season standing) possible. So to that end, winning is counter productive.

The Reds are one of the worst teams in baseball and they're very likely going to get worse (by selling at the deadline). Of the teams between them and the Brewers, only one of them (Marlins) will face Milwaukee the rest of the season. It's important to lose these games in the same way it's important to win games in your division when you're trying to compete.

Somewhat to my surprise the Reds have been around league average in offense ranking 14th in baseball with a 97 wRC+. They're kind of top heavy though with Todd Frazier (158 wRC+) and Joey Votto (145) as the two true offensive juggernauts. Jay Bruce (110) has been solid though and Zack Cosart (108) is surprisingly effective.

The pitching has been a little below average too. As a team they rank 18th in team fWAR and have a 3.91 ERA and 4.08 FIP (which ties the Brewers). Much like the Brewers, their relief core has been vastly more effective than their rotation. The bullpen has a combined 3.73 ERA and 3.61 FIP. The rotation has a combined 4.00 ERA and 4.33 FIP.

Unsurprisingly their best pitchers have been Johnny Cueto and Aroldis Chapman. Somewhat surprisingly, Anthony DeScalfani has been their second best starter. Actually, looking at the rest of their starters it's not that surprising.

Offensive Spotlight

Without looking I would have assumed Joey Votto led the Reds in offense but it's actually Todd Frazier who is having one hell of a season. He's already hit 25 home runs and is slashing 283/344/606 (.404 wOBA, 158 wRC+). His 4.2 fWAR is 6th best in baseball (3rd in NL). This guy is a legitimate MVP candidate.

Pitching Match-Ups

Friday July 3, 6:10 pm CST: Mike Fiers vs Michael Lorenzen

Lorenzen has a 3.38 ERA but to look at his peripherals you'd expect much worse. In 61.1 IP between the bullpen and rotation he has a 14.8 K% and a 12.5 BB%. That's really awful. He also has a 1.47 HR/9.

He throws a fastball (93-95), slider, curveball, and change-up.

Saturday July 4, 6:15 pm CST: Jimmy Nelson vs Josh Smith

Smith has spent most of his season in AAA. He's made two starts for the Reds so far. The first one went three innings and he allowed 4 runs. The second one was better. He lasted 5 innings and allowed 3 runs, but only 1 was earned.

He throws a fastball (89-91), slider, curveball, and change-up.

Sunday July 5, 12:10 pmc CST: Taylor Jungmann vs Mike Leake

Mike Leake is having one of his down years. He has a 4.38 ERA and 4.47 FIP. His peripherals look pretty weak too: 15.4 K%, 6.4 BB%, .255 BAA, 1.26 WHIP, and 1.25 HR/9.

He throws a fastball (90-92), slider, cutter, curveball, and change-up.

Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs