Series Preview: Chicago Cubs (64-82) at Cincinnati Reds (71-75)

The Cubs played the Reds just last week, and five of the six starters from that series are pitching this series. I’m just going to make a few minor tweaks to the last preview (laughing).

Team overview

As always, these are team stats with NL ranks in parentheses.

Reds Cubs
wOBA .322 (4th) .315 (8th)
UBR 14.2 (1st) -11.4 (16th)
UZR 39.8 (2nd) -9.1 (10th)
SP FIP 4.49 (16th) 4.20 (12th)
RP FIP 4.02 (15th) 3.85 (9th)

As usual, I feel smug about my pessimism towards the Reds pitching staff turning out to be true. I had no idea that they would be this awful though. As Cubs fans well know, depth in starting pitching can disappear incredibly quickly.

Since the Reds and the Cubs are the best and worst teams in the NL in baserunning*, let’s go back to check who the biggest offenders/assets are on the teams. Drew Stubbs, Brandon Phillips, and Jay Bruce lead the way for the Reds, with plodders Ramon Hernandez and Joey Votto the only players with significant negative numbers. For the Cubs, Darwin Barney has been the only one worth a damn on the bases, while the departed Kosuke Fukudome and, unsurprisingly, Aramis Ramirez and the decaying remains of Alfonso Soriano‘s legs have been the worst offenders on an overall terrible baserunning team.

bonus fact, the Boston Red Sox, with noted baserunning whizes Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury in the lineup, are the only other team with negative double digits in UBR.

I was surprised to see the Cubs UZR numbers inching up since the last time I wrote one of these. Marlon Byrd leads the team in UZR with 5.2, but the biggest surprise is Soriano, who is somehow posting a 3.6 UZR on the year. DRS has him at -3 as opposed to the -15 or so I was expecting. Ah, defensive metrics.

Pitching matchups

Monday: Rodrigo Lopez, LOL (4.82, 5.32, 4.54, 4.94) vs Dontrelle Willis, LHP (4.21, 4.00, 3.92, 5.59), 6:10 PM CT

The projections still think he’s pitching with a giant fork in his back, but kudos to Willis for putting together a solid season. He’s still walking a lot of batters (4.10 BB/9) but at least his pitches are now closer to home plate instead of the on-deck circle. He and Cueto have been the few bright spots in the Reds pitching staff this year.

Tuesday: Ryan Dempster, RHP (4.74, 3.75, 3.53, 3.45) vs Mike Leake, RHP (4.00, 4.27, 3.64, 3.97),  7:05 PM CT

There’s little doubt that Dempster will pick up his player option next year, given his family situation and his media role as Ginger the Clown. He’s continued to post solid numbers after his disastrous April, and if we’re reading the tea leaves wrong and the Cubs go all in yet again in 2012 he’ll be a solid contributer.

Leake has had some problems with home runs (not surprising given his home park), but has otherwise had a fine season. There’s been no sophomore slump for Leake – he’s increased his strikeouts and slashed his walk rate by over a batter per nine.

Wednesday:  Casey Coleman, RHP (6.65, 4.50, 4.60, 4.33) vs Johnny Cueto, RHP (2.36, 3.45, 3.86, 3.76), 7:05 PM CT

Coleman’s ERA-FIP split can be attributed to a .361 BABIP. Those peripherals are actally a bit better than I would have expected from Coleman. He’s walking far too many batters but he’s getting a decent number or strikeouts, though looking over this minor league stats his 7.30 K/9 is a bit of a mirage.

I thought Cueto’s numbers would have regressed since the last time the Cubs faced him, but he’s still carrying a .245 BABIP despite a 53.6% GB rate. Unfortunately for the Reds, Edinson Volquez has been as awful as Cueto has been good.


Cubs win today, lose the next two. It’s too bad for the Reds that their most effective starters are lined up against such a sorry offense.


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