Series Preview: Cincinnati Reds


(From Flickr user Sideonecincy via a Creative Commons license.)

While the Cubs are more renown for their long and rich history, the Cincinnati Reds have been around for just about as long. During that long span they have one fewer World Series appearance and three more World Series victories. But they have neither the ages-old ballpark nor the infamous curse, and so they’re not paid as much attention as their fellow National League founders. But they’ve had a good deal more success than the Cubs lately, which leaves the Yankees a tougher challenge in their second (third, if we count rivalry weekend) interleague series.

What Have the Reds Done Lately?

Just a week ago the Reds were busy trouncing the Dodgers in a three-game series, outscoring them 16-8. But once interleague started back up the run scoring halted. They scored only four runs this weekend against the Blue Jays, salvaging just one win in the series. They’re now 1-5 during interleague play, losing by a collective score of 27-13.

Reds on Offense

Like a Bruce. (From Flickr user Trev Stair via a Creative Commons license.)

Despite the poor scoring in interleague affairs, the Reds lead the NL in scoring, at 4.78 runs per game. That could make for a high-scoring series, since the Yankees have scored 5.31 runs per game. Despite their NL-leading run scoring, they have produced to the level of an average offense — 100 wRC+ and 100 OPS+. That might be one reason why they’ve struggled during interleague play: of the 10 teams with a wRC+ of 100 or greater, seven are in the AL.

Leading the way on offense is one of the best 3-4 combinations in the game, Joey Votto and Jay Bruce. Votto is having a spectacular season that seems a bit underreported. That’s probably because he won the MVP award, but it’s not as though his numbers this season are that far off. In fact, his OBP is even higher, though his power is a bit down. But, since power is down across the league it’s not that big a difference (173 wRC+ last year, 162 this year). He already has seven intentional walks this year, after receiving just eight last year. Yet this year they hurt a lot more, because Jay Bruce has broken out in a big way. After a slow April he has put a hurting on baseballs, producing a .379 wOBA (137 wRC+) on the season. The big difference for him has been power. After 21, 22, and 25 homers in his first three seasons, he’s at 17 already in 2011.

The Reds are even more dangerous on offense because of the producers they have elsewhere in the order. Drew Stubbs’s .335 OBP might not look pristine for a leadoff hitter, but he brings some pop (10 HR) and speed (20 SB, 2 CS). If he gets on, chances are he’s headed for second base. That could become a problem when Cervelli is behind the plate. Ramon Hernandez has also put up some quality numbers, a .372 wOBA in part-time duty.

Keeping the Reds afloat is a cadre of players who hit right around league average. Scott Rolen, Miguel Cairo, Jonny Gomes, Chris Heisey, Fred Lewis, Brandon Phillips, and Ryan Hanigan all have more than 120 PA and a wRC+ with 10 of the league average. That covers all but one starting position and some bench spots. Their only weakness comes at shortstop, though it is a glaring hole. Paul Janish and Edgar Renteria have spent time there, and have wRC+ numbers of 41 and 56. That does leave them with two black holes at the bottom of the order, but it also does give them averagish or better production everywhere else.

Reds on the Mound

(From Flickr user crymzn via a Creative Commons license.)

Monday: RHP Johnny Cueto. The Reds came into the season with more starters than rotation spots, but that strength quickly turned into a weakness after many of them pitched poorly. Cueto actually didn’t start the season in the rotation; he spent the first month on the DL. But since his return he’s been a bright spot for the Reds. In eight starts he’s produced a 1.68 ERA, though he’s not going to keep that up all year. In fact, his numbers closely resemble his career marks, with the exception of his home run rate. He’s getting more grounders, which might play into that. But as we know, when ground ball guys miss they often give up the long ball. His 6.7% home run to fly ball rate is due for a correction, and the Yankees are just the team to do that. Then again, it’s hard to bet against someone who is going so well. He’s gone at least seven innings in each of his last four starts, allowing two runs at most.

Tuesday: LHP Travis Wood. While Cueto has outperformed his peripherals this season, Wood has underperformed his. That’s not to say he’s pitched particularly well: he has a 4.30 FIP against a 3.84 league average, and has a 5.11 ERA overall. Above average walk and home run rates have hurt him, which seemingly plays into the Yankees hands. That goes even more so, because the start is at home. Of the 10 homers Wood has surrendered this year, eight have come at home. But it seems as though every time the Yankees come up against someone like that, he holds them homerless.

Wednesday: RHP Mike Leake. The year did not start off well for Leake, but after being sent down to the minors in May — which is odd, considering his two AAA starts this year are the only minor league innings he’s ever pitched — he’s been on something of a tear. In his five starts back he’s gone 35 IP, 33 H, 9 R, 5 BB, 19 K, including three straight starts in which he has pitched seven or more innings. He’s also allowed just two homers in that span, meaning he’s essentially the anti-Travis Wood.

Bullpen: The Reds bullpen has been pretty middle of the road, with a 3.46 ERA and 4.05 FIP. They do have a number of quality contributors, including lefty, and former first round pick Bill Bray, Logan Ondrusek, and closer Francisco Cordero. Nick Masset can also be a weapon, though his propensity to walk batters has haunted him at times this season. But with those four they can handle most leads, so it would benefit the Yankees greatly to work up Cueto’s pitch count tonight and get into that bullpen early. A wild card here is Aroldis Chapman, whose rehab clock has expired. The Reds could bring him up, but will more likely let him work on his control issues in AAA for a bit.

Recommended Reds Reading: Redleg Nation and Red Reporter.

Categories : Series Preview


  1. nunez fan says:

    easy win as long as nunez plays

  2. Cy Pettitte says:

    offense is probably gonna have to do work with Nova, Gordon, and Freddy going this series.

    • CP says:

      Considering the disparity between the NL and AL, isn’t a very good team in the NL about equivalent to an average team in the AL?

      • Perhaps if we were playing in an AL ballpark using AL rules. A large chunk of that disparity is eliminated once we lose the DH and have to have our pitchers hit.

        • CP says:

          I don’t think it’s that straight forward. Last year the NL had a .715 OPS in interleague and the AL had a .748. I don’t think that’s just a matter of having the DH or not. Here’s the comparison of AL and NL DH’s and pitchers:

          NL DH: .652 OPS
          AL DH: .758 OPS

          NL P: .353 OPS
          AL P: .254 OPS

          So most of the advantage gained by AL teams in having a true DH was lost by having pitchers that never hit.

          (I’m looking at last years numbers because the interleague schedule is only about 1/3 done this year, but the discrepancy is even larger so far)

          • Voice of Reason says:

            Bears mentioning that some of that pitcher advantage is canceled out by the fact that pitchers don’t always hit for themselves. Furthermore, the AL’s pinch hitters would tend to be better for obvious reasons.

        • Jorge says:

          All NL pitchers could succeed just as well in the American League, with the exception of Ian Kennedy, who is entirely the product of a completely inferior league.

      • JobaWockeeZ says:

        AL 2011 Triple Slash .254/.322/.396
        NL 2011 Triple Slash .250/.318/.384

        No, not really.

        • CP says:

          That’s comparing AL hitters vs AL pitchers and NL hitters vs NL pitchers.

          The International League in 2011 has a triple slash of: .258/.327/.400/.727, but no one would consider them on par with either the AL or NL…

          • JobaWockeeZ says:

            …Except that the NL has similar pitching to the AL.
            16 of the 35 most valuable pitchers in baseball are in the NL now and WAR is league neutral…

            And statement like a very good team in the NL about equivalent to an average team in the AL is simply not true.

            • CP says:

              WAR is league neutral, but that just means it’s adjusted within the league. As far as I know, there is nothing in it to account for league to league differences.

              If the NL is just as good as the AL, then why do they lose so many more interleague games each year than the AL?

  3. Not so pumped with Votto/Bruce vs. these pitchers, but I am pretty pumped about the Yankee hitters in that ballpark.

  4. Brooklyn Ed says:

    Hopefully this series will be better than the one 3 years ago. Last time, the Yanks faced Cueto, they won. Bruce & Votto became a force to be reckon with over this past 3 years, things will be interesting.

  5. Xstar7 says:

    I’d like to get a glimpse of Aroldis Chapman in this series. But the Reds probably won’t call him up. That 15/20 strikeout to walk ratio in just 13 major league innings this year is ridiculous.

  6. nsalem says:

    Hopefully we can domo arigatto Mr Cueto this evening as we did last week to the equally hot (up to last week) Mr, Ogando. Both from the same town for what its worth.

    • Both from the same town for what its worth.

      Also from San Pedro de Macoris:

      Manny Alexander
      Joaquín Andújar
      George Bell
      Daniel Cabrera
      Robinson Canó
      Héctor Carrasco
      Rico Carty
      Luis Castillo
      Jesús Colomé
      Mariano Duncan
      Tony Fernández
      Pepe Frias
      Pedro González
      Pedro Guerrero
      José Jiménez
      Manny Jiménez
      Manuel Lee
      Josias Manzanillo
      Guillermo Mota
      José Offerman
      Rafael Ramírez
      Ben Rivera
      Juan Samuel
      Julio Santana
      Alfonso Soriano
      Sammy Sosa
      Fernando Tatis
      Salomón Torres
      José Valverde

      San Pedro de Macoris is to pro baseball players as Western Pennsylvania is to pro football players.

      • nsalem says:

        as Charlestown Mass. is to bank robbers and Pittsburgh Pa is to jazz musicians and Lafayette, Louisiana is to Guidry’s (check out the Lafayette phone book).

  7. nunez fan says:

    im calling it – nunez 2 hits tonight, a sb and probably an error (not that i care i only watch when the team hits). GO NUNEZ!!!!!

    • Jim S says:

      Too obvious this time. You need to be a little more subtle.

      • nunez fan says:

        name me all the shortstops who hit better than nunez. please, go.

        • nunez fan says:

          nunez has been on fire since hes started. just take off the blinders and look up the stats. dont be so salty your boyfriend jeter is on the DL with an old man injury.

        • bexarama says:

          I know you are just trolling but Ryan Theriot is actually better. Seriously. Ryan Theriot.

          Any shortstop who has been worth positive WAR is better than Nunez, so there are a lot, actually. Ronny Cedeno, Alexi Casilla, Ian Desmond, Emilio Bonifacio, and yep, Derek Jeter – all better than Nunez. That’s not to mention the actually good shortstops, like Reyes, Tulo, Alexei Ramirez, Asdrubal Cabrera, Peralta, Drew, and Escobar.


          (I don’t think Nunez has enough innings/PAs to qualify for this, but he’s at -0.1. So congrats on being better than Yuniesky and Miguel Tejada.)

    • Xstar7 says:

      Nunez man crush? Nunez man crush.

  8. nunez fan says:

    when jeter gets back with his old man injuries and starts sucking even worse than before, you haters will be calling for nunez. dont say i didnt warn you.

  9. Dino Velvet says:

    wednesday look like a trap game.

    they better be on guard, Mike Leake is capable of stealin it.

  10. John S. says:

    Cueto has been scratched. Wood is pitching today instead.

  11. Kevin says:

    Apparently Cueto has been scratched and Wood will take the start.

  12. nsalem says:

    Nunez Fan: How do you keep your keyboard from sticking with all this Nunez love?
    Also do you think you can wait till he can maintain an OBP over .300 and/or go 4 games
    without an error before you start stuffing him AS ballot Box.

  13. Cy Pettitte says:

    NYY lineup 6/20 vs. CIN: Swisher 9, Granderson 8, Teixeira 3, Rodriguez 5, Cano 4, Martin 2, Jones 7, Nunez 6, Nova 1

    Y U NO Gardner? ughhh.

  14. Guns of the Navarone says:

    Joe Girardi is slowly crossing the line into insanity with all of this Brett Gardner platooning. Not in the lineup tonight because of… Travis Wood??? C’mon Joe.

    Gardner isn’t now one of the best hitters on the Yankees, he’s one of the hottest hitters in baseball recently.

  15. Jeter Sucks says:

    To Nunez Fan,
    I’m with you, bud. Keep fighting the good war.

    • Monteroisdinero says:

      As am I.

      • Meh, “Jeter Sucks” and “nunez fan” are probably the same guy.

      • bexarama says:

        Do Nunez fans even talk about how Nunez is supposedly so great, or just how bad Jeter is? Just wondering.

        • jsbrendog says:

          nunez doesnt have any real fans, jeter just has haters

          • first time lawng time says:

            I actually like Nuñez. He needs to improve defensively, but he’sgot some “pop” with the bat.

            I also hate Jeter. But my like of Nuñez and hate for Jeter are independent of eachother.

            • Xstar7 says:


              How could you hate Jeter? Besides his late decline due to the fact that he’s in his late thirties and playing one of the most demanding position in baseball, theres nothing to really dislike about him.

              • Most of those moments occurred before FTLT started watching baseball.

                • first time lawng time says:

                  Yeah. I didn’t start following the team until 2009. I actually didn’t mind him then, but I just don’t like him anymore. It’s partly due to his poor play the past year and a half. It’s partly due to the media’s glorification of him and thr unfair comparisons to Arod.

                  I actually think Arod is the better player and person.

                  • Xstar7 says:

                    That’s no reason to HATE Jeter though. A-Rod is definitely a better player. But a better person? That’s a stretch. (Sorry if I’m sounding defensive. I’m a huge fan of both players by the way.)

                    • first time lawng time says:

                      You’re not sounding defensive at all, actually. Okay, maybe hate is too strong a word. I just don’t like him.

                      He was my favorite player when I was like 7, but he’s a different player now. He’s not producing so it’s hard for me to appreciate what he was.

                • Xstar7 says:

                  Okay. But none of us saw Babe Ruth play and we all recognize him as the greatest baseball player ever and are very grateful he played for the Yankees.

                  /unfair comparison’d

              • first time lawng time says:

                He acted like a little beeotch to Arod when he came.

                • Pat D says:

                  ARod dissed him pretty good.

                  • first time lawng time says:

                    What did he say?

                    • bexarama says:

                      He made some really unflattering comments about Jeter to Esquire from back in like 2001, I think when Jeter was negotiating his original extension. And they weren’t untrue (like, Jeter isn’t the guy you fear in the Yankee lineup, stuff like that) and A-Rod’s my woobie and all, but you just don’t say stuff like that about your friends, in public, when they’re negotiating a deal. Jeter was wrong to be so bitter over it, but not to be angry in the first place. IMO.

                    • first time lawng time says:

                      Oh, okay. That’s understandable. I agree with your position on that.

                      And “woobie”? Really? Lol. I found that comical. In a good way, not a rude way.

                    • CP says:

                      A mature grown-up would have discussed it with his friend and they would have made up. I can understand not bringing it up when you’re playing 3000 miles apart and hardly see each other, but when you’re on the same team (and you happen to be the captain) you should bury the hatchet and make up.

              • Pat D says:

                Who was it calling the Flip play? I can never remember.

                • Xstar7 says:

                  Don’t know. But it was one of the most exciting calls on a defensive play ever.

                  • Pat D says:

                    Yea, that’s what I want to know who it was.

                    Like if Joe Buck had called that play no one would remember it, in all likelihood.

                    • Xstar7 says:

                      After doing a little research and listening to different the different voices of Oakland A’s announcers, I’ve come to the conclusion that Ken Korach is the announcer who called Derek Jeter’s flip play.

              • bexarama says:

                But he’s Satan because he played hurt a few times, Xstar7.

                • Xstar7 says:

                  He’s Satan, and us as Yankee fans are his advocates. At least according to NESPN

                • first time lawng time says:

                  Are you mocking me? Because I actually believe baseball players need to toughen up. They miss games for the dumbest reasons. Suck it up and be a man. That’s what I say.

                  • CP says:

                    The problem is that’s generally worse for the team. A great way to miss a lot of time is to try to play through an injury and aggravate it. Isn’t it better to just miss one or two games and then come back 100% than try to play through it and miss 15, 20 or more games because you made it worse?

                    Just look at Pedroia and Youkilis last year. They both were ‘tough’ and played through injuries – and then missed the last half of the season because they made the injuries worse.

                    Another example was Jeter in 2008. He was hit on the wrist on 5/20. He continued to play everyday after that, but hit just .212/.291/.298 over the next 26 games. If he just sits out, maybe he can come back at 100% sooner – and it’s not like a replacement would be worse than he was.

                  • bexarama says:

                    Sorry for the late response, just saw this. No, I wasn’t mocking you, but ever since he basically stopped hitting people are spinning the fact that Jeter wants to play as a bad thing. It’s not. Letting the players play through the injury is stupid, though – see what CP said.

  16. Ryan 407 says:

    its really important to get Andruw Jones at-bats!


    • You laugh, but he’s right. We know Gardner can play and will be fine. Getting Andruw Jones to be a productive bat off the bench, though, will be a fantastic addition to this team’s playoff roster.

      Big picture >>>> small picture.

      • Evan in NYC says:

        Watching him at the plate his brutal. This guy is the poor man’s Adam Dunn. HR or bust.

      • Guns of the Navarone says:

        He’s absolutely wrong, in my opinion. You know what else is great for the big picture? Winning games. Right now, Brett Gardner is the team’s hottest hitter (as in avoiding outs) and is without question it’s best defender. He gives you a better chance to win games if he’s in the lineup. We’re all well aware that Gardner also has no significant platoon split. And yet Joe Girardi platoons him anyway. Why? Because he’s a bad manager?? Well yes… but that’s not why. It’s to get his 4th outfielder “going.”

        Brett Gardner is much more important to this team’s long term and short term success than Andruw Jones – a RHB 4th outfielder who can be replaced should he not produce. Jones is being paid to come of the bench.

        It would also be in this team’s long term interest for it’s manager to realize that his starting left fielder is not a platoon player.

        • Evan in NYC says:

          Girardi is a creature of habit. Bring in Logan to face the lefty even though he isn’t getting lefties out. Bunt when bunting statistically decreases you chances of winning. Platooning Gardner when there is a lefty starting. We just need to get used to it.

          • CP says:

            No. He’s a creature of analysis. He keeps doing what he believes to be the right move even if it doesn’t work in the short term. He knows/assumes that the numbers will work out in the end because they almost always do.

            • Evan in NYC says:

              You are contradicting yourself. If he is a creature of analysis, how is he going with what he ‘feels’ is the right move. If he was a creature of analysis he would be making decisions strictly off of numbers. And the numbers show, bunting in almost every situation (save for a pitcher bunting, etc.) lower your chances of winning a ballgame.

        • Ana says:

          Joe Girardi is the opposite of a bad manager. Actually, he’s a really freaking good manager. However… this is a head-scratcher.

          • first time lawng time says:

            Okay, I don’t want to sound rude or obnoxious or anything like that, but how is Girardi a “freaking good manager?”

            I just don’t see it.

        • Brett Gardner is much more important to this team’s long term and short term success than Andruw Jones – a RHB 4th outfielder who can be replaced should he not produce.

          Agreed, which is why if Gardner was being benched or platooned, we should be upset. He’s not being benched or platooned, though, he’s just being given the day off on occasion to give that 4th OF a chance to get untracked. If it doesn’t happen, Jones will be given the boot you so eagerly want him to get.

          You know what else is great for the big picture? Winning games.

          And we ARE winning games. Andruw Jones’s 80 plate appearances in 2011 haven’t prevented us from winning games.

          • Guest says:

            But TSJC, you have to admit that this has been happening with some regularity over the last couple of weeks. Unless I am mistaken, the Rangers threw two lefties in a row last week and Jones started BOTH games. Gardner started against Davis.

            But the next time the Yanks face a lefty, Jones starts again.

            Three out of four is a pattern, not an occassional rest.

          • The Oberamtmann says:

            I disagree. Gardner has been sitting the vast majority of games against lefty starters for quite some time now. I’ll admit that Girardi has done a good job of putting Gardner back in when the lefty starter has been replaced by a righty reliever, but that just adds more evidence that Gardner is effectively being platooned even if Girardi doesn’t realize it.

            • This might sound like semantics, but it’s more that Jones is being platooned (and Gardner is the unfortunate victim of that platoon) than Gardner is being platooned outright.

              Gardner gets to play against both lefties and righties. Jones, meanwhile, only plays against lefties. Girardi thus chooses to jump on most every opportunity to play Jones when lefty starters are on the hill, because he wants to get Jones untracked. He has to insert Jones into either Gardner, Granderson, Swisher, or Posada’s spot.

              Swisher and Posada are poor fits to take a seat for Jones, as Girardi is trying to get them untracked as well, so he has to sit either Gardner or Granderson.

              Granderson’s bat has been hotter, and Gardner plays Jones’s natural position. That’s why Gardner gets the short straw more often than not.

              Summary: Gardner’s getting “platooned” only by default, not because Girardi is intentionally attempting to turn Gardner into half of a starter.

              • The Oberamtmann says:

                Certainly – I did not mean to imply that Girardi did not want to play Gardner. Further, I understand the problematic conflict between playing the hot hand and getting players at bats so they can escape slumps. I happen to think that sitting one of the other players occasionally (especially Posada in AL parks) would be the better strategy. Even giving Granderson the occasional day off (he has cooled a bit lately) would not kill the offense.

                Unless, of course, Gardner is reading textbooks about base-stealing when Jones replaces him in the lineup. Then I’m okay with it every time.

          • CP says:

            Yankees record in games started by Jones: 13-9 (.591 Win%)
            Yankees record in all other games: 28-20 (.583 Win%)

            Clearly, Jones should start more, not less!

            • Evan in NYC says:

              Yankees record in games started by Cervelli: 11-5 (.688)
              Yankees record in all other games: 30-24 (.556)


      • Guest says:

        I hear this argument, but I think it underestimates just how good Garnder has been for the last two months (or year and a half, really). For the last two months, he has legitimately been one of the better hitters in all of baseball.

        We wouldn’t sit Grandy, Tex, A-Rod, Cano, etc. just to keep the back-up guy “in the flow” of things. I know Gardner is not those guys, but he has been playing like those guys for a while now (especially when you take into account his contributions as one of the best defensive outfielders in all of baseball).

        Jones can get plenty of at-bats when we get back to AL play and have the DH position to utilize.

        Right now, treating one of the hottest two-way players in the entire sport like a platoon player just doesn’t seem like the best move…

        • jsbrendog says:

          as soon as a righty comes into this game gardner will get in. i still think he gets 2 abs at least. everyone calm down

          • Evan in NYC says:

            And Jones will have an opportunity to PH in the game when one of our pitchers has an opportunity to bat at some point.

            • tom says:

              If you want Jones to be of any use in situations like that, you have to be willing to let him take away some at-bats elsewhere, to keep himself sharp.

              Sure, it’d be great to have Gardner’s bat in there 100% of the time. It’d be great to have Mo pitch three innings every day. But you need to weigh future success against present domination.

        • This is a good point. It’s still just June, though. If Gardner’s hot play continues and Andruw Jones doesn’t get untracked by July/August, I bet we gradually see a bit less of Andruw as we prep for the playoff roster decisions. Plenty of season still left at this point.

          If Jones is still hitting poorly in October and actually getting postseason starts over Gardner (which I doubt), then yes, by all means, freak the fuck out.

  17. tom says:

    Someone help me out here: Am I reading right that Old Timers Game is Sunday? I’ve been a Yankee fan longer than alot of people here have been alive, and I’ve never known it to be on any day but Saturday.

    And, again, am I reading right: it starts at 11AM? Aren’t most people either attending religious observances or (in my case) still asleep then? I hate the idea of missing half the ceremony, but I like my weekend sleep-ins.

  18. BigTimeBartolo says:

    How do you sit Gardner tonight? The man has been money. Meanwhile Andruw will probably go 0-4 with 3 K’s.

    I swear to god sometimes Girardi is just a stupid fucking monkey.

    It’s called common sense Joe, GET SOME

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