May 31, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto (47) pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the sixth inning at PNC Park. The Cincinnati Reds won 6-0. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Reds Face “Daunting” Westerly Swing – Diamondbacks Strike First Tonight


Your Cincinnati Reds face an interesting road trip in the next 10 days before returning to the  “Favorable Confines” of one Great American Ball Park on Monday, July 1st.  There will be three opponents within the span of those 10 days, accounting for eight (8) games and two (2) off days buffering each series.  Three games in Phoenix, AZ, an off day, two games in Oakland, CA, an off day, and three final games in Arlington, TX will be a fairly grueling sequence.  Since today is Friday, June 21st, the first official day of Summer and the start of a pretty critical stretch beginning in Arizona, the focus today is on that very Reds vs Diamondbacks for the weekend.

Here is how the series breaks down from a pitching standpoint:

Johnny Cueto (4-0, 2.08 ERA) vs. Wade Miley (4-6, 4.64 ERA)

Mike Leake (7-3, 2.64 ERA) vs. Patrick Corbin (9-0, 2.28 ERA)

Mat Latos (6-1, 3.21 ERA) vs. TBD

At first glance, you couldn’t ask for a better set of pitchers for the Reds to trot out to the mound.  However, as the previous two series have proven, the starting pitching for this baseball team *really* isn’t the problem at hand.  Therein lies the rub facing the Cincinnati Reds.

June 17, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Patrick Corbin (46) throws during the first inning against the Miami Marlins at Chase Field. (Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports)

Miley, a strong candidate for last year’s NL ROY race, is struggling in his sophomore campaign.  His career numbers vs Cincinnati are anything but overwhelming (1-1, 4.26 ERA, with 11K in 12 1/3 innings), but, admittedly, the data set is pretty small.  Then comes a sophomore sensation in one Patrick Corbin, who is sparkling with a perfect record on the season and an enviable ERA by most anyone’s standards.  Corbin has one lone start in his career vs the Reds that came last season – and things didn’t go particularly well (0-1, 4.05 ERA with 8 K in 6 2/3 innings).  Something notable for both pitchers, however, was the reasonably high strikeout rate by the “good guys” in fanning some 19 times in the combined 19 innings – for a mathematically simple 9 K per 9 inning rate.  The strikeouts from both teams could be plentiful in this series – which would be a nightmare for local pizza chain LaRosa’s had these games been played in Great American instead of Arizona’s Chase Field.  The starter for Sunday’s series finale has yet to be named; however, there’s an important reason why that was complicated a bit (Ian Kennedy, the team’s designated #1 starter, started serving a 10-game suspension this past Monday night and will not be available).  Randall Delgado, the team’s #5 man after Miley and Corbin, would seem the logical choice and having some history versus the Reds from 2012 (two starts, 6 2/3 innings on 5/14/12 in a no-decision at home allowing only one unearned run and 5/24/12 in Cincinnati going just 5 1/3 innings allowing four earned runs and walking three while only striking out four).  Miley and Corbin are lefties (tend to give the boys some fits) while Delgado is a righty.

Fearless Predictions:

While the Reds are struggling on offense, to some extent so are the Diamondbacks.  On the season, the Cincinnati offense has scored 332 runs (3rd-most in the NL) while allowing 271 (4th-best) compared to Arizona’s 308 runs scored (T-6th-most) and 291 runs allowed (best in the NL West, 6th-best in the NL).  Statistically, the Reds are a slightly better team than the Diamondbacks and *should* be expected to be competitive in every game in the series, favored to win at least 2 of 3 against the West’s division leaders “on paper”.  At 39-33, the D’backs are not statistically much better at home versus the road (19-15 vs 20-18) while the Reds are far superior at home (26-14) vs the road (18-16, bolstered by the last few series away from the Queen City).  Cueto almost certainly holds the edge in Game 1 (5-0, 1.66 ERA, and 34K in 38 innings against Arizona career).  Game 2 is likely muddier – Corbin is pitching “otherworldly” despite his lone bad career start against this team … much like Mike Leake‘s career line of 1-0 with a 7.94 ERA and 12K in his 17 innings against Arizona is misleading.  Call this game the “toss-up” of the bunch, because I have no clue based on the starters (slight edge to the D’backs).  Game 3 favors the Reds given the history of Latos (2-1, 3.25 ERA, and a sparkling 41K in 36 innings, mostly accrued as a Padre) and lack of data for whom Arizona may send to the hill.

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