Series Preview: Reds (65-52) at Cubs (52-65)

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The Reds have had a great season, and all they have to show for it is looking up at two teams above them in the standings. At least they have a relatively solid grip on that last wild card spot, though that (thankfully) isn't as great of a position as a team would like. Joey Votto is having another MVP-worthy year but will likely be ignored in the voting if the Reds don't win the division. Luckily, an even more deserving player who had been similarly held back by team performance seems like he has the pole position for the award. 

Team Overviews

  Reds Cubs
wRC+ 95 (5th) 90 (12th) 
BSR -2.3 (7th)  -3.6 (8th)
UZR 8.6 (6th) 28.6 (2nd) 
DRS 20 (6th) 17 (7th)
SP FIP-  94 (3rd) 98 (6th)
RP FIP-  98 (9th) 115 (15th)

The Reds bullpen was a major source of strength last season…this year it would seem it's not the case. The biggest difference has been the abscence of Sean Marshall, who has been battling shoulder problems all year and might not pitch again this season. Logan Ondrusek had a FIP-ERA split of nearly two points last year, and things have normalized for him this year. More importantly, setup man Jonathon Broxton has lost his ability to miss bats, and hasn't been nearly as effective. The rest of the pen (and the guy at the top of it) has been pretty good though.

Injuries

Aside from the above-mentioned Marshall, the Reds are also missing ace Johnny Cueto. He hit the DL for the third time at the end of June with a strained lat muscle and hasn't picked up a baseball yet. There's a good chance he might not be back this year. Ryan Ludwick has been out since opening day with a torn labrum, and is expected to return this series.

It's going to be a bloodbath of DFAs when the Cubs clear their 60-day DL this offseason. Currently they have Thomas Neal, Scott Baker, Matt Guerrier, Ryan Sweeney, Zach Putnam, Kyuji Fujikawa, Rafael Dolis, and Arodys Vizcaino stashed off the 40-man. Luis Valbuena is still out with a hamstring injury, I haven't seen any news on him recently. 

News, Notes, Blood Oaths, etc.

I'm still disappointed that Cueto is out for this series. His spat with David DeJesus a few months ago was kind of hilarious, especially when two other people (Matt Garza and Dusty Baker) called on the other team's player to man up while they were defending them by proxy (laughing). 

As reported by BA 26 year old Cuban baseball star Jose Abreu has defected and is looking to sign on with someone. Abreu hit a Bonds-ian .453/.597/.986 in 293 PAs, with 33 HRs in 2010/2011. He's a first baseman, so the Cubs are not expected to make a big play for him, but hopefully the FO doesn't give a fuck. They could probably get something pretty good for Rizzo, or move him to LF. GW covered this in more detail in a post earlier today.

Pitching Matchups

(ERA, FIP-, xFIP, projected FIP)

Monday: Mat Latos, RHP (3.21, 79, 3.41, 3.35) vs Travis Wood, LHP (3.04, 94, 4.41, 4.15), 7:05 PM CT

The HRs and the BABIP have risen a bit for Wood in his last few starts, but he's still been a solid pitcher for the Cubs all season. He bounced back from his shortest start of the year with 6 innings and change with seven strikeouts against the Phillies in his last outing. 

Latos has been even better in his second year with the Reds, striking out nearly a batter an inning and limiting free passes. He hasn't had a bad start in over a month. He pounds hitters with a hard, heavy sinker, and puts them away with an excellent slider.

Tuesday: Homer Bailey, RHP (3.73, 75, 3.07, 3.47) vs Jeff Samardzija, RHP (4.23, 93, 3.46, 3.54), 7:05 PM CT

Ever since I complained about Shark not getting enough ASG attention, he's been kind of awful. He's walked 15 batters in his five starts since the break, and while he didn't walk anyone in his last start, he gave up 9 runs in three innings and change in the shortest start in his career. He struggled around this time last year, and supposedly he was working on a new pitch. I haven't heard anything along those lines this year, and given that he's looking to get paid he's got incentive not to do so. 

Bailey is having a breakout season, and helping make up for the absence of Cueto for much of this season. He threw his second no-hiter (this time, against the Giants) at the beginning of July but has scuffled a bit since then, relatively speaking. Though compared to a no-hitter just about anything is 'scuffling'. 

Wednesday: Bronson Arroyo, RHP (3.15, 107, 4.04, 4.56) vs Chris Rusin, LHP (3.08, 95, 4.12, 4.70), 1:20 PM CT

Bronson Arroyo isn't my most-disliked player, but he's certainly in the top 30. That title would probably go to someone like Matt Holliday or Ryan Theriot. It always sucks to see a soft-tossing junkballer shut down the Cubs lineup. He's having another bafflingly solid year this year, even by FIP thanks to his lack of walks. He's lost in the shuffle of guys who could be the next Jaime Moyer. I could see him driving batters crazy with his crappy stuff into his 40s.

Rusin has actually been kinda good in his five starts this year, including six and seven shutout inning starts on the road against the Giants and Cardinals. Needless to say, I don't expect this ti continue, and I'm kind of surprised that Arrieta or Grimm doesn't have this rotation spot. 

Have an A-1 day!

berselius

About berselius

How appropriate. You fight like a cow.

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