Since they started playing baseball in 1993, the Colorado Rockies have never won their first three road series of the year. With series wins at Chase Field and Wrigley Field under the belt already, the Rockies are hoping to make a little history against a struggling Cincinnati Reds team coming off a series loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.
This past offseason, the Reds attempted to do what some had hoped the Rockies would do, a complete fire sale. For the Reds it was more urgent as they needed to restock their farm system a lot more than the Rockies did. At the start of the offseason, the Reds seemed to have the pieces and the willingness to get that accomplished.
Unfortunately, they ran into some issues immediately when a proposed trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers involving Aroldis Chapman fell through because of the revelation that he had been involved in a domestic incident. Eventually, they dealt Chapman to the Yankees for a lesser return. They also managed to trade Todd Frazier to the White Sox in a puzzling three-team trade involving those same Dodgers. A proposed trade of Brandon Phillips fell through when Phillips refused to waive his no-trade clause and, like the Rockies, they struggled to find a taker for a left-handed outfielder and ended the offseason with Jay Bruce still part of the team.
Now the Reds are stuck in between with fewer MLB pieces than they had a year ago and a farm system that didn't receive enough prospects to make the future appear that much brighter.
Reds Power Rankings
The Reds lineup still includes Joey Votto, which is always a good start. Unfortunately, he's not hitting the ball so far this spring. Thankfully for the Reds, Jay Bruce and Zack Cozart have had hot starts to the season to help make up for it, but recent history suggest that they will return to earth sooner rather than later and if Votto isn't back to being Votto by then this lineup could get ugly. Most likely though, the hot and cold starts will balance out and they'll continue to hover around league average.
Really Bad: Bullpen
If you thought the Rockies bullpen was bad, the Reds' is actually worse. Among bullpens, the Reds are ranked 26th in their ability to get strikeouts with a measly 6.75 K/9 and 29th in walks allowed with 5.56 BB/9. Combine that with a HR/9 of 1.79 that ranks them 25th and you have the makings of a pen that does everything one would hope their pen doesn't do, and sadly means that they're 5.36 ERA is actually over performing their FIP by a full run.
Really Really Bad: Rotation
Part of the bullpen's woes may be placed at this group's feet though. The Reds' starters are averaging the fewest innings per start of any group in MLB right now. While slightly better at getting strikeouts (7.49 K/9) than their peers in the pen, they rank next to last in walks allowed (4.53 BB/9) and dead last in home runs allowed (1.72 HR/9). Like the pen, a below average BABIP against has made them look better than they probably are and unfortunately for the Reds means that they have a long season ahead.
Who to watch: Hitter
So far this season, Eugenio Suarez has been the Reds' best hitter. Obtained in 2014 from the Tigers in exchange for Alfredo Simon, who has since re-signed with the Reds, Suarez moved from shortstop to third base this past offseason following the Frazier trade. A solid hitting shortstop before, Saurez now looks the part of a slugging corner infielder. Saurez probably won't keep up his current pace, but for now he's providing some hope to franchise that needs it
Who to watch: Pitcher
When Dan Straily starts the series opener on Monday, he will be the seventh starting pitcher the Reds have used already this season. Working out of the pen as the Reds' long reliever to being the season, Straily has already logged three appearances over more than two innings pitched. His 3.24 ERA looks good until you realize that it's due to a completely unsustainable BABIP against of .105. For a rotation that is struggling to get deep into games, whether or not Straily is stretched out enough to give the Reds more than five innings of work could set the tone for the rest of the series.
Game times, TV, probable pitchers (all times MT)
Monday, April 18, 5:10 p.m.: Jordan Lyles vs. Dan Straily
TV: ROOT Sports; Streaming: MLB.TV (Free game of the day); Radio: 850 KOA
Tuesday, April 19, 5:10 p.m.: Jorge De La Rosa vs. Alfredo Simon
TV: ROOT Sports; Streaming: MLB.TV; Radio: 850 KOA
Wednesday, April 20, 10:35 a.m.: Chad Bettis vs. Raisel Iglesias
TV: none; Streaming: MLB.TV (MLB.com); Radio: 850 KOA
For more information, check out the best source for Cincinnati Reds news, Red Reporter.