Red hot Cincy in town to close homestand

If the Rockies want an 8-2 homestand, they'll need to at least win a series against a very hot team.  You want optimism for reaching that?  Then know that the Rockies draw the exact three starting Reds pitchers they faced and swept on the road five weeks ago.  PLUS KIP WELLS.  UPDATE:  Justin Lehr suffered a strained groin and will be replaced by Matt Maloney.  Maloney and Homer Bailey swap days.

So there's optimism and then there's reality.  The starting pitching for Cincinnati has started to perform far better, and with that, so have their results in the W column.  Cincinnati has won seven straight and and 12 of 14 with their extra innings win yesterday.  They did Colorado a favor by sweeping the Braves on the road this last weekend - and allowing just 4 runs in the series, though both losses in the 14-game streak came against the Dodgers (thanks a lot...).

In other words, the Rockies are the hottest team in the majors.  In 7 of 8 games, the Reds have held their opponents to three or less runs.  They will also have a mind for revenge after the Rockies swept them five weeks ago.  Basically, have the Reds turned a corner to be legitimate threats, or will the Rockies expose their "cute little streak" as a farce?  I project the latter, with the Rockies taking the series on the way to a satisfying 8-2 homestand.

Red Reporter is the Reds SBNation blog, if you're interested. 


  
250pxredslogo_mediumCincinnati Reds
(63-73, W7, 5th, 18 GB Div) 

Monday-Thursday: 4-game series at Coors Field


The Bats: F

Only the Giants have had a worse team wOBA than the Reds this season, and only the Giants have had a worse team batting average.  That should tell you all you need to know.  The aforementioned NL West offenses represent the only two clubs with less runs scored than Cincy, they trail only the Padres in SLG and just the Giants and Royals in OBP.  They have experienced a lot of turnover in their lineup, but in truth, the replacements aren't helping much at all.  The top two in their lineup have been terrible all year, although several different players have filled those spots.  Rookies Paul Janish and Drew Stubbs now frequent the top of the lineup:

LINEUP Avg HR RBI OBP SLG wOBA
Drew Stubbs - CF .253 4 7 .280 .430 .309
Paul Janish - SS .220 1 13 .303 .304 .276
Joey Votto - 1B .304 21 67 .395 .538 .397
Brandon Phillips - 2B .276 19 67 .333 .464 .343
Scott Rolen - 3B .313 9 51 .369 .458 .359
Jonny Gomes - RF .285 17 43 .357 .566 .391
Wladimir Balentein - LF .232 6 21 .301 .382 .299
Corky Miller - C .180 0 7 .286 .230 .246

By wOBA metrics, the lineup features two hitters performing at strong All-Star levels (Votto and Gomes) though neither have been starters all year, two above average hitters (Rolen and Phillips), one below average hitter (Stubbs), and three hitters who should theoretically be easily replaces (Janish, Balentein and Miller).

Colorado native Darnell McDonald (.234, 1, 6) is listed as the lone reserve outfielder, while Craig Tatum (.161, 1, 6) has been almost splitting time with Miller behind the dish.  Adam Rosales (.200, 4, 19), Drew Sutton (.163, 1, 5) and Kevin Barker (7-for-19, 2B) are backup infielders.

Hop after the jump for the scouting report on the arms, the D, the pitching matchups and the hot/cold players.

The Arms: D+

Check out Cincinnati's starters on Statcorner.  It's a big red mess.  Their staff ERA is a respectable 4.33, but their staff Fangraphs value is 5th worst  in MLB, 3rd worst among rotations.  Their starting staff has more talent than that though, and lately, they've been showing it, so I'll give their grade  an extra boost.

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Francisco Cordero 2-4 59 0 0 0 33 2 58.1 49 15 14 2 27 52 2.16 1.30

Daniel Ray Herrerra, Pedro Viola and Arthur Rhodes are Dusty Baker's left-handed options out of the pen.  Jared Burton, Nick Masset, Micah Owings, and  Ramon Ramirez (no not that one) come at you from the right side of the bullpen.  Herrerra, Owings and Ramirez are below average via StatCorner, though Owings might not make the trip after being hit by a pitch.  The rest of the pen is solid, led by Cordero, who had five saves last week.
 

The D: C+

The Reds are ranked 4th in UZR/150 while also making the 82 errors, a 5-way tie for 16th-least in MLB.  Fangraphs says they are the 7th best defense, though team stats aren't helpful with all their turnover.  Janish and Phillips are plus fielders via Fangraphs, but the rest of the starting lineup has not been noteworthy this season.

 

Probable Pitchers:

Today, 1:10 pm MDT

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Homer Bailey 5-4 16 14 0 0 0 0 76.1 80 54 50 12 36 52 5.90 1.52
W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Ubaldo Jimenez 13-10 28 28 1 0 0 0 189.1 158 71 69 11 70 162 3.28 1.20

I have heard that Bailey has turned a corner.  I'm not so sure about that.  Admittedly, he has allowed just 4 ER over 21.1 IP his last three starts, but a closer inspection shows the bookend games of that stretch came against Pittsburgh.  Before that stretch, 9 of his 11 starts had a sub-50 game score.  He's among the worst at preventing home runs, so this is his chance to show he isn't a blind squirrel that found a nut and two Pirates.  Ubaldo is on an elite roll, going 6+ IP in 24 straight starts, has won 6 of 7 starts, allowed 2 or less runs in seven straight, has 11 consecutive quality starts and has gone 8.0 innings in 4 of 6 starts.  Favors:  ROCKIES very strongly

Tuesday, September 8, 6:40 pm MDT

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Matt Maloney 0-3 5 4 0 0 0 0 23.2 26 17 17 8 7 19 6.46 1.39
W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Jason Marquis 14-10 30 27 2 1 0 0 182.1 181 82 76 12 57 88 3.75 1.31

Rookie Matt Maloney was sent to the minors last Monday after three subpar starts in the rotation.  He has started four games for Cincinnati this year, allowing two home runs in each (lip your chops boys).  He does decenty with strikeouts and walks, but those home runs give him a SSS FIP of 7.01 and tRA of 7.21.  He throws the starter's traditional four, with only ahigh 80-s fastball tending to live above 80mph.  Without looking, that ought to tell you he's left-handed.  Jason Marquis has allowed 5+ ER in consecutive starts for the first time since early May.  He had obvious mechanical flaws in his last start, so if recent trends continue Cincinnati stands a chance However, I adhere to larger sample sizes.  Favors:  ROCKIES strongly

 

Wednesday, September 9, 6:40 MDT

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Bronson Arroyo 12-12 29 28 3 2 0 0 183.0 188 93 86 28 60 101 4.23 1.36
W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Jason Hammel 8-7 28 25 1 0 0 0 143.0 174 79 70 12 37 99 4.41 1.48

Bronson Arroyo is on some kind of roll.  He has a 1.17 ERA over his last five starts, allowing one or less in four of them.  The right-hander has hurled 8 straight quality starts and 10 of 11.  Contrary to Bailey, I think Arroyo hmay indeed be turning a corner, partially due to his larger body of work in his career.  I love me some Jason Hammel.  The Rockies have won 8 of his 9 Coors starts under Jim Tracy and he has allowed 3 or less runs in seven straight.  And that's your fifth starter.  Booya.  Favors:  DRAW.

 

Thursday, September 10, 1:10 MDT

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Kip Wells 1-1 6 3 0 0 0 0 25.2 16 9 9 2 16 18 3.16 1.25
W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Jose Contreras 1-0 1 1 0 0 0 0 6.2 8 1 1 1 1 5 1.35 1.35

How about a duel of castaways?  Kip Wells has started three games for Cincinnati, all victories.  In his last two games, he allowed a total of 2 ER and 3 hits in 12 IP.  But we know who the real Kip Wells is.  He has a 4.85 season ERA, 4.58 FIP and as a starter for Cincy, he has a 6.89 tRA.  Jose Contreras will try to back up his solid debut in which he escaped a lot of traffic and high pitch counts.  Favors:  ROCKIES moderately



My take

Ubaldo will start the series off right this afternoon.  The Reds are definitely on a nice streak, but it has mostly been built by good pitching, which is due for a jolt against a hot offense at Coors Field.  Their streak is noteworthy, but so is the fact that they only faced two teams that are over .500, sweeping the Braves and losing to the Dodgers.  Otherwise, five of the wins came against the Pirates and three against the sinking Brewers.  That streak will carry less weight than the popitching matchups, which the Rockies are sitting pretty for all four games.  There's no reason they shouldn't win three games in the series.

 

33_15_10---fire-flame-texture_web_mediumFrancisco Cordero had five saves last week alone while Drew Stubbs hit .333 and 3 HR during the week.  Darnell McDonald got a chance to start and went 5-for-15 with a HR and Brandon Phillips was 12-for-25 with 2 HR and 3 2B.  Bronson Arroyo allowed 1 or less runs in 4 of his last 5 starts, allowing just two in the outlier.

 

IceJoey Votto is had just two hits last week in 21 ABs, though he did hit a homer.  Corky Miller has 20 straight hitless at-bats. Justin Lehr is coming off his worst three game stretch of the season. 


 

Bandaid_mediumThe Reds are making their run in spite of a rash of injuries this season.  Several key contributors are on the 15-day shelf, including OF's Jay Bruce (wrist - 7/12), Willy Taveras (quad - 8/19), Chris Dickerson (ankle - 8/24), Laynce Nix (neck - 8/21), RHP Aaron Harang (appendix - 8/21), and Cs Ryan Hanigan (concussion - 8/24) and Ramon Hernandez (knee - 7/17).  That's just the 15-day DL. On the 60-day, there's RHPs Edinson Volquez (elbow - 6/2) and Mike Lincoln (neck - 6/13),  IF Danny Richar (shoulder - 7/3) and C Wilkin Castillo (shoulder - 6/21).

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