Continuing up the ladder of potential playoff opponents, we arrive at the LA Dodgers, a team that just took 2/3 from the Reds last weekend, and 4/6 overall this season. The obvious assumption is that if you draw the Dodgers, you’re drawing the NL’s best lineup. Any lineup that has Andre Either batting second gives a new meaning to Murder’s Row.
Oddly enough, that just hasn’t been the case. The Dodgers are 26th in runs scored and 21st in team batting average (.248). Obviously, you can’t compare the Dodgers now to the Dodgers that played from April to August, right? Not quite. In the month of September, just two teams have scored fewer runs than the Cincinnati Reds. Seattle is one. The Dodgers are the other.
Just peep the averages of the heart of LA’s lineup:
Andre Ethier – .285
Matt Kemp – .301
Hanley Ramirez – .258
Adrian Gonzalez – .255
Shane Victorino – .225
On paper, no lineup is more threatening. On the diamond, it’s just not the case. Furthermore, I’d like the Reds chances because of pitching. There is no Reds pitcher than is better than Clayton Kershaw – after him, the advantage shifts more towards the Reds.
It is certainly worth noting that the Reds pitching as a whole is just marginally better than the Dodgers – but the Dodgers’ starting rotation ERA is actually .20 points better.
That doesn’t necessarily mean the Dodgers’ staff is better – where the numbers don’t lie, they’re largely attributed to nearly 3/4ths of a great season from Chris Capuano. On August 12, his ERA was 3.11. It’s now 3.74 and rising. It was 2.62 back on July 3rd when Capuano defeated the Reds. Aaron Harang is having a solid season, but you’d have to think his turn to pitch would come in Cincinnati, where he’s 9-11 with a 3.99 ERA since 2009. I don’t think I need to offer much in this area concerning Harang pitching at GABP.
Harang dominated the Reds in his only match-up against his former club – seven innings, one earned run. But that was back in July, in California.
On paper, I think it’s tough not to give the nod to the Dodgers, but all things considered, I’m going with the Reds. The Dodgers starting rotation has gone a disappointing 50-54, due in large to an anemic offense, but also to the rapid decline of Capuano. Plus, even if the Reds just took one game in LA, they’d come home to face the likes of Blanton and Harang, in GABP.
The match-ups simply favor the Reds. For the sake of validation, consider the following:
Kershaw v Cueto – Kershaw
Latos v Beckett – Latos
Arroyo v Capuano – Arroyo, Reds bullpen
Bailey v Harang – Bailey, Reds bullpen
Kershaw v Cueto, at GABP – advantage, Cueto, the best pitcher in all of baseball at GABP.
Lost in most of this conversation is the Reds bullpen, giving this team the highly coveted ability to shorten the game to six or seven innings. If the Reds secure a lead, it’s not far fetched to assert that the Dodgers would only have until the 6th or 7th to get it back. The Reds boast the very best bullpen in all of baseball. The Dodgers do boast the 8th, but their ‘pen’s ERA is almost an entire point higher than the Reds.
Prediction: Reds move on, 3-1.