The West Coast swing commences this evening as the Good Guys are at AT&T Park for the start of a four-game series against the San Francisco Giants. The Giants are coming of a three-game sweep of the rival Los Angeles Dodgers in which the pitching staff hurled three shutouts. The sweep also propelled the Giants into a tie with the Dodgers atop the National League West.
One aspect of this West Coast trip will be the Reds will play eleven games in eleven days. Last season, the West Caost swing was broken up as the first visit was to Sand Diego aftyer they had been to Arizona. The second visit out west involved the visit to San Francisco and LA.
The Giants might be primed for a letdown. Sweeping your hated rival, and all shutouts no less, could mean an emotional slip. The Reds are coming off a six-game homestand where they were 3-3.
Comparing these two teams is actually as different as night and day. I believe you will get that feeling as we compare the stats for both teams. First, the offenses of the Giants and Reds.
|SF||NL RANK||OFFENSE||CIN||NL RANK|
Pretty simple to figure out the differences, huh? The Giants are more reliant on getting on base and utilizing their team speed in order to put runs on the board. The Reds, meanwhile, show a far greater reliance on the big fly…and AT&T Park isn’t a park that allows many. It is routinely ranked as one of the lowest in permitting the long ball. In 38 home dates this season, the park has yielded 35 home runs. The Giants themselves only have 13 of those.
A note here. We Reds fans have a capacity for harping on the number of strikeouts. There are those that are more vulnerable than others, but from a team standpoint, the Reds aren’t as bad as we think. Sure the Giants have the second least strikeouts, but that fits into their offensive philosophy. The Giants don’t walk as much as the Reds. Here’s a snapshot of strikeout and walk rates.
Strikeouts: SF = 17.6% (506 SO in 2,883 PA), CIN = 20.7% (579 SO in 2,794 PA)
Walks: SF = 7.6% (219 BB in 2,883 PA), CIN = 8.3% (231 BB in 2,794 PA)
Ratio (SO/BB): SF = 2.31, CIN = 2.50
Doesn’t look so bad now, does it?
Overall ,the pitching staffs appear to be comparable…
|SF||NL RANK||PITCHING||CIN||NL RANK|
The only big difference is in home runs surrendered. We’ve touched on that already, but I will add this. Of those 22 home runs Giants opponents have blasted, 14 of have come off the four starting pitchers the Reds will face in this series: Madison Bumgarner (2), Matt Cain (3), Barry Zito (6), and Ryan Vogelsong (3).
Outside of that, things look even. They aren’t when you delve into the starting pitching.
|SF||NL RANK||STARTERS||CIN||NL RANK|
Here’s where there is a difference. While Reds starters are making headway in comparison to last year’s starters, the Giants still hold the edge. We know why the disparity in the home runs allowed, but that may not come into play as much in this series due to the park where it is being held. One advantage Reds starters hold is in walks allowed and SO/BB ratio.
In case you’re wondering, Mat Latos will draw the start in the third game of the series. In his days as a Padre, he surrendered 3 HR in 5 starts.
The flip side? Of course it’s the relievers.
|SF||NL RANK||BULLPEN||CIN||NL RANK|
Again, a disparity in home runs allowed. The Giants ‘pen doesn’t walk as many betters, but they don’t strikeout as many either. I think I know why the Reds have as many as they do. Aroldis Chapman (64) accounts for over 27% of all Reds bullpen whiffs. In the 206.2 innings Reds relievers have worked, Chapman accounts for only 18% of the innings pitched. By contrast, Sergio Romo leads all Giants relievers in strikeouts…with 29 in 21.2 innings.
Reds with a slight edge in overall offense. Giants starters with an edge negated, in part, by the Reds bullpen. That is considering all the stats you have just viewed.
Game 1: Johnny Cueto (9-3, 2.21 ERA) v. Madison Bumgarner (9-4, 3.10 ERA)
On paper, this is the marquee matchup of the series.
In Cueto’s career against the Giants, he has pitched like the Johnny Cueto of recent times. He owns a 2-0 record to go along with a 1.64 ERA and 0.955 WHIP. He’s had success by the bay as he is 1-0 with an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 0.857 at AT&T Park.
Maybe Cueto is actually a robot…
Bumgarner is having a good season. His success against the Reds, or in this case, lack thereof, can be told in an 0-2 record and 8.56 ERA against the Redlegs. Those numbers account for three starts with two of the three at AT&T Park. The one start at GABP did not come when the Giants visited GABP earlier this season.
Game 2: Mike Leake (2.-5, 4.46 ERA) v. Matt Cain (9-2, 2.27 ERA)
Poor Mike Leake. He has pitched his tail off over his last three starts and has nary a win to show for his work. He has shown success againt San Fran in going 2-0 with a 5.68 ERA and 1.842 WHIP. Seems weird he has a pair of wins when you look at those numbers. They are bloated to a start and a relief appearance back in 2010. In the start, Leake permitted five runs on eleven hits in only 4.1 innings. The relief appearance was a disaster when Leake pitched only one inning and allowed five runs on six hits. The relief appearance was at AT&T.
He made up for those with a pair of spectacular 2011 starts, one at GABP and one at AT&T. Last June, Leake went eight inning s of shutout ball while allowing only four hits. He backed that up with in July with a 6.1 inning, two run (one earned), eight hit effort. He has not faced the Giants in 2012.
For Mr. Perfecto, his GABP appearance earlier this season was a quality start (6.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 SO, 2 HR), but the Reds pulled away for a 9-2 win. Remember those bullpen comps? In his career, Cain is at .500 againt the Good Guys (4-4) with a respectable 3.19 ERA.
Game 3: Mat Latos (6-2, 4.77 ERA) v. Barry Zito (6-5, 4.00 ERA)
Giants fans will be jacked for this one as Latos returns to AT&T Park to face what will not be a warm and receiving crowd. That might be a bit of an understatement. All I have to say is “baseball” and “I hate SF” and you get the idea.
Latos has good numbers against the Giants, but his record may not adequately reflect that. He’s only 3-3 against them, ubt his ERA is 2.35 and his WHIP is 0.985. His ERA and WHIP are lower at AT&T (1.85 and 0.853 respectively) with a record of 1-2. He has a better offesne behind him. Latos already beat the Giants earlier this season when he hurled seven shutout innings in April. Latos is also coming off his best Reds start as he pitched a complete game four-hitter while striking out a career high 13 against the Brewers.
Zito is in a slump to say the least, but maybe his last outing is showing a change of his flow. In his three recent outings, he’s 1-2 with a less than stellar ERA of 7.29. Doesn’t look good, but that win, however, was against the Dodgers and he pitched seven innings of three-hit ball and allowed no runs.
He hasn’t seen a lot of success in facing the Reds. He owns a record of 3-4 to go along with a 6.79 ERA> The Reds beat the Giants when Zito last faced them, but Zito received a no decision. He did pitch well going six innings and allowing only one run on five hits. Those bullpen comps again…
Game 4: Bronson Arroyo (3-5, 4.13 ERA) v. Ryan Vogelsong (7-3, 2.23 ERA)
Arroyo is coming off the near no-no where he silenced Brewers bats for 7.1 innings. If one Reds pitcher could surely benefit from AT&T, it’s Arroyo…or so you would think. He hasn’t at all. Look at this: 0-4, 4.34 ERA, 1.621 WHIP. His success against the Giants has come away from San Francisco (3-1).
Vogelsong has only one start against the Reds and it was a no-decision where he worked six innings, but he was hittable. He allowed four runs in those six innings (all earned) in a Giants 6-5 win at GABP earlier this year. That was a game the Reds bullpen let get away as the Giants plated three in the top of the ninth.
The Reds took two of three at the end of April in a series at GABP.
An extra here. The Giants are 17-16 against teams over .500 and 24-14 at home. The Reds are 24-21 versus teams over .500, second best in the NL (Washington 27-20), and 18-17 on the road.