If you haven’t been noticing, the Pittsburgh Pirates are the hottest team in MLB right now. They have actually caught the (once) best team in either league, the St. Louis Cardinals. While the Pirates are riding the crest of a six-game winning streak, (also eight of their last 10) the Reds have lost five of their last six.
On the current Left Coast trip, the Reds are off to a 1-4 start after receiving a size-2 shutout by A.J. Griffin (6-6) yesterday in Oakland. It marked the fifth time Cincinnati has been shut out as we near the midpoint of the 2013 campaign.
The bats have become far too silent as the offense was virtually non-existent yesterday. In the five-game stretch they are batting an atrocious .205, and have averaged three runs per game, while their foes have averaged nearly six. In the last two games they have had the privilege of a designated-hitter while playing in American League yards. Chris Heisey, just back from an extended stint on the DL, and Xavier Paul are a combined 2-6 while batting .333.
Statistics prove that the Bucs are doing it with pitching, not hitting. They currently possess the best pitching staff in the game. The combined ERA for the team is a league leading 3.20. They lead MLB with 12 shutouts, the lowest BAA at .226, wins with 48, and saves with 30. The following speaks volumes about the strength of the Bucs bullpen. They are tied for dead last with no complete games to this point, and are three slots from the bottom with just 36 quality starts.
By comparison the Reds can’t boast the same strength. The only honor the pitching staff can claim is that they lead the league in strikeouts with 653, averaging 8+ per game.
The once critically acclaimed bullpen has fallen to 11th place in the National League in ERA with a 3.89 mark. To be fair the bullpen has had one of the best setup men in the game, Sean Marshall on the DL for the larger portion of the season. Jonathan Broxton, who was signed as a closer, has been struggling in the setup slot and is now taking up a spot on the shelf.
Nearly every season the Reds hit a stumbling point when they play out west. Not always, but normally. They are continuing the trend of losing to teams above water, and thumping the ones below water. Until that problem is rectified the Reds will be in for a rough second half.
They have the day off and the road trip ends after a weekend series with the Texas Rangers.
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