May 06, 2010

Series Preview: Chicago Cubs (13-16) at Cincinnati Reds (14-14)

I guess I'm out of the predictions game.

The Reds are coming off a series win against the Mets. Everyone was writing them off after the first few weeks of the season, but now they're suddenly at .500. They're certainly not doing it with their offense (.313 team wOBA). Their starting pitching is a below-average 4.49 FIP. Their bullpens is pretty good (3.90 FIP, 3.74 xFIP - 2nd best in the NL). Their defense is also below average (-2.3 UZR). So maybe this is a bit of a mirage, though many of the projectatrons did like them in the offseason.


  1. C Ramon Hernandez, RHB (.327, .319, -0.7)
  2. 1B Joey Votto, LHB (.404, .383, 0.0)
  3. 2B Brandon Phillips, RHB (.326, .342, -3.0)
  4. SS Orlando Cabrera, RHB (.297, .325, -14.4)
  5. 3B Scott Rolen, RHB (.362, .352, 5.6)
  6. LF Jonny Gomes, RHB (.264, .338, -9.9)
  7. CF Drew Stubbs, RHB (.265, .292, 16.4)
  8. Jay Bruce, LHB (.340, .336, 0.0)

  1. Aaron Harang, RHP (5.06, 3.82, 4.13)
  2. Mike Leake, RHP (3.96, 4.37, -)
  3. Johnny Cueto, RHP (4.50, 4.49, 4.23)
  4. Bronson Arroyo, RHP (4.38, 4.71, 4.46)
  5. Homer Bailey, RHP (4.59, 4.59, 4.33)
  6. Francisco Cordero, RHP (4.11, 4.36, 3.48)
  7. Arthur Rhodes, LHP (2.73, 2.55, 3.31)
  8. Nick Masset, RHP (4.36, 2.55, 3.83)

I said this last time the Cubs played the Reds, but I'm still kind of surprised the projection systems liked this team so much. Also, that defense looks pretty atrocious. One thing the Reds do have going for them is their pen (as mentioned above). It's probably the only quality pen in the NL central.

Chris Dickerdoodle is on the DL with a broken bone in his hand and will be out until June. Edinson Volquez's Rookie of the Year campaign was halted by his PED 'suspension' earlier this year - he's not missing time he would have missed but he is losing out on a fair chunk of salary. Drew Stubbs has come down with a slight case of sucking. Hopefully it will meet its mate in Aramis Ramirez and they'll run away together.

Players to watch
That Joey Votto guy is pretty good at hitting. So is Soriano, who is still white-hot.

Pitching matchups
Friday: Carlos Silva, RHP (4.17, 4.12, 4.39) vs Homer Bailey, RHP (4.59, 4.59, 4.33), 6:10 PM CT
Silva was hit hard in his last start, and a big part of it was the home-run ball. His sinker must not have been working as well for him, since he gave up more fly balls than grounders for the first time this year. Bailey has been struggling with his control this year (4.13 BB/9), though control is not what he's known for. He threw 122 pitches in his last start, and has topped 100 in every start this year. Maybe we can hope he'll be a little gassed.

Saturday: Tom Gorzelanny, LHP (2.69, 3.70, 3.96) vs Aaron Harang, RHP (5.06, 3.82, 4.13), 6:10 PM CT
Harang has a terrible ERA, mainly due to a unlucky .353 BABIP and HR/FB rate pushing 20%. However, he has improved on his already admirable walk rate, walking less than 2 batters per nine. There were rumors floating around that they could pull a Zambrano on him, moving him to the pen, which is especially dumb because he IS the best starter on the team and they have a good pen. It was probably just interweb speculation.

Gorz had a great outing in his last start, racking up a career high in strikeouts and finally getting some run support. He looks like a whole new pitcher this year. Even when he had his breakout season with Pittsburgh in 2007, he only struck out 6 batters per nine (his peripherals were actually pretty bad that year - 4.88 xFIP). This year he's been striking out nearly a batter an inning. He's had a but of luck with home runs, but things are looking pretty good, even if you ignore the fact that both the players the Cubs traded to get him (Hart and Ascanio) are currently recovering from torn labrums. Great work, Larry Rothschild.

Sunday Ryan Dempster, RHP (3.75, 3.51, 3.68) vs Cy Leake, RHP (3.96, 4.37, -), 12:10 PM CT
Demp has his 157th wasted quality start of the season on tuesday. He's been pounding the strike zone, dropping his walk rate even lower than his 2.93 BB/9 from last year (which is waaay lower than I expected). This will probably be another 3-2 game where Leake allows 14 baserunners in 5 innings but only gives up 2 runs, just like the last start. He walked 7 in 6 2/3 innings in his major league debut against the Cubs but only gave up one run. He walked 5 in his next start, but in the 3 starts following those he seems to have gotten over his jitters, only walking 4 in those starts combined.

PredictionAfter the last series, I'm not going to make one. Though I guess I was right that a sweep was inevitable.