Aug 26, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher J.J. Hoover (60) looks on after giving up a grand slam to St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Allen Craig (not pictured) during the seventh inning at Busch Stadium. St. Louis defeated Cincinnati 8-6. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Reds v. Cards Record Reflection of Back of Rotation

If you’re upset over the domination of the Reds by the Cardinals, congratulations on being human. Games like last night aren’t fun, regardless of who it’s against. Paul Goldschmidt rounded the bases to a chorus of silence when he twisted his dagger at GABP. Last night was Allen Craig‘s turn, and a chorus of silence in Cincinnati has manifested itself into a turbulent flurry of words, many of which are aimed at the same players that carried this team to where it is now.

We’re looking far too much into these games with St. Louis. 9-4 against the Reds in the 2013, which naturally means we can take off our hats to St. Louis and call them our daddy.

J.J. Hoover‘s bandwagon is once again wide open, in case anyone needed a ride back to reality. 26 1/3 straight scoreless innings is quickly forgotten when two balls account for eight opponent runs, both at the hands of NL MVP candidates batting with the bases juiced. What do you think guys like Craig and Goldschmidt do in that situation anyways?

The Reds have been owned. But if you think the record serves as some crystal ball that predicts October, you’re going to end up like Cleo, another failed psychic. The record is what it is, but it’s just not an honest breakdown, mainly because the Cards are amassing all of these wins against pitchers they probably won’t face in October.

Obviously, the Reds have had plenty of cracks at rookies and fill-ins too. But be realistic. The Cardinals have the most prolific offense in the National League and the third in all of baseball. The Reds are 13th. It’s just unrealistic to expect the Reds to win in some shootout fashion. The only way the Reds can win is if the starting pitching can preform at a high caliber. So while the Cardinals can survive the best arms of their rotation being sidelined because of its incredible offense, the Reds simply cannot.

That isn’t to say the Cards can’t pitch either. They sure can, fourth best ERA in all of baseball, right behind the Reds. The Reds and Cards are ranked second and third in starting rotation ERA.

Here is the breakdown of pitchers seen during the 13 games between the Reds and Cards thus far:

Bronson Arroyo, 4 games (0-3) 5.96  ERA

Mike Leake, 3 games (0-2) 8.27 ERA

Homer Bailey, 2 games (0-2) 9.58 ERA

The Cards have owned the back of the Reds’ rotation. But if they really owned the Reds, it wouldn’t matter who they send to the bump. It actually matters a lot. While we’re wasting our time freaking out about guys who, if everyone is healthy come October, won’t even be throwing in a five game series with STL, we’re completely ignoring the fact that the Reds have the pitchers to turn the lights off at Busch Stadium.

Mat Latos, 3 games (2-0) 1.42 ERA

Tony Cingrani, 1 games (1-0)  5.40 – but in fairness, the rookie only surrendered three runs in five innings, he also struck out seven Cardinals.

Then of course there’s the forgotten ace, Johnny Cueto. Unfortunately, he hasn’t received a crack at the Cards yet, but he had a 3.00 ERA in two starts against a highly prolific 2012 Cardinals offense. The front end of this rotation has not been bullied by the Cardinals, which means if the Reds want to advance and stick it to their rivals, they’ll need the services of their Cy Young vote-getting Dominican and their hard-throwing rookie. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like they’ll be able to retain Cueto’s services for the remainder of the year, meaning one of the pitchers the Cardinals have mercilessly beaten would have to have a dramatic turn around.

Which means the obvious: if the Reds can’t win the division, a one game showdown with the Cardinals is the next best thing. There are too many variables in one game to accurately predict. Anything could happen. Plus,  the Cardinals would undoubtedly throw Wainwright, who fell to Latos already once this year.

If it’s a question of who is better, you have to take the Cardinals. In a five game series, the only way the Reds advance is if they can send Cueto, Latos and Cingrani, in succession. That probably won’t happen, which means the Reds would have to outscore a team that scores more runs than any other team in the NL. And unless Ludwick undergoes his own metamorphosis and suddenly propels this offense to where it’s supposed to be, the only way the Reds can survive and advance is riding the arms of the front of baseball’s second best rotation. Just hope they’re there.

 

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