Cincinnati Reds (55-59 / 3rd in the NL Central / 9.5 GB)
Last Series vs. Rockies: Sept 6-9, 2010 (L 0-4 at Coors Field)
You might remember this series as being one of the final bright spots in the 2010 season before the indomitable losing streak of doom.
Game 1 marked Ubaldo Jimenez' 18th pitching win in the remarkable 2010 season. It was one of Ubaldo's weaker starts, going only 6 innings, allowing 7 hits, 6 walks, and 4 runs while punching out 8, resulting in a game score of 44. The good news is that Aaron Harang hadn't been worth mentioning since 2007. Over his 2.1 innings of work, Harang walked 3, struck out 1, and allowed 4 runs on 4 hits, and was relieved by Jordan Smith in the 3rd. Bill Bray coughed up another 3 runs as the game progressed, Aroldis Chapman an unearned run, Carlos Fisher another 2 runs, and the Rockies came out on top 10-5.
Game 2 was far tighter. Johnny Cueto allowed 4 runs (3ER) over 6 innings, while Jhoulys Chacin went 6 of his own with only 2 crossing the plate. Rafael Betancourt allowed a run in the 8th, but Huston Street nailed down the save for the 4-3 victory. Nobody was that spectacular on the offense, although Carlos Gonzalez hit a homer, Miguel Olivo doubled (for one of this 3 hits) and Melvin Mora hit a triple.
Game 3 was a decent Aaron Cook start - up until Joey Votto hit him with a liner in the 6th. Upside: the Rockies had already staked him to a 9-1 lead, so as far as that game went, no harm no foul. In bigger terms, that was Cook's last start of the 2010 season. It was a huge offensive day, obviously, including mutli-hit days from Eric Young, Troy Tulowitzki, Seth Smith, Miguel Olivo, and Jonathan Herrera. Oh, and 2 of Tulo's 3 hits were homers. No biggie.
Finally, Game 4. After jumping to a 5-0 lead by the 2nd, the Reds' pitching began to falter. First, Jason Giambi hit a 2-run shot in the 4th. Then Dexter Fowler doubled in EYJ in the 5th. Then Johnny Herrera drove in Ryan Spilborghs on an RBI groundout in the 7th. Tulowitzki led of the 8th by homering to tie the game at 5. Then Chris Nelson stole home. Bam.
Latest Series Results: L 1-2 at Houston; L 1-2 at Chicago(NL)
I don't know if you've noticed, but the Reds are in a rough place. Favored at the start of the season to take the NL Central again, things are just plain not going the Reds' way. Despite a +34 run differential (Pyt 60-53 record) the Reds are sitting 5 games below .500 at 54-59. Their offense has been somewhat pedestrian (98 wRC+) despite big seasons from Joey Votto and Jay Bruce.
The pitching, however, has been less than stellar from pitchers not named Johnny Cueto.
#47 / Pitcher / Cincinnati Reds
Feb 15, 1986
Laugh all you want at that picture, because I sure am, but Cueto is just about the only person keeping that rotation afloat. Well, Mike Leake isn't doing all that bad, but not Cueto good.
The weird thing about Cueto being so good is how his ERA is so completely deflated from his peripherals. This is the lowest strikeout rate Cueto's had in his career. He also has one of the lowest walk rates and by far the lowest HR9 of his career. He also has the highest GB% and lowest HR/FB% ever. Opponents are batting all of .201 off of him (.228 BABIP). It's kind of a mystery. ERA, FIP and xFIP all agree that thus far, this has been the best season of Cueto's career.
I'm kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop, as less-than-stellar peripherals + super low BABIP = recipe for disaster. Until that shoe drops, though (assuming it does), the Reds are going to need Cueto at his best if they even want to pretend to recover from this 9.5 GB hole they've dug themselves.
(Whoa, folks, sorry about the late KYF. Forgot I hadn't quite finished it and NEEDED to! My bad!)