Series Preview: Reds and Brewers
By Steve Engbloom
Happy Opening Day! Hope we’re all getting ready for the commencement of one of the most highly anticipated Reds seasons in recent memory. I think you’re really going to like what we have for your reading pleasure today. This may also become a regular feature here on BRM.
Through the workings of myself and Lou Olsen, Lead Writer for Reviewing the Brew, we have collaborated on a series preview for the opening series of the 2011 season. Before I delve into this, I wish to extend a hearty thank you to Lou for helping in this. Actually, he approached me first, but it all worked out as I was in the process of putting things together for such a post when I noticed he had sent an email my way.
But before we go to far, here’s a special announcement…
Pitching Matchups (records are career vs. opponent)
Game 1: Yovani Gallardo (2-3, 5.56 ERA) v Edinson Volquez (3-1, 5.50 ERA)
Gallardo: The Reds have hit Gallardo pretty well over his career (.289/.388/.486). In fact, the Reds are one of three teams to hit 5 HR off him, the most he’s surrendered to any team (Pirates and Cardinals are the other two). Gallardo has posted a SO/BB ration under 2.00 to only three teams and the Reds (1.90) is one of those teams. The 26 walks Gallardohas issed to the Reds represents the most he’s allowed to any team.
Hits ‘Em: Scott Rolen (7-11, .636), Joey Votto (.375, 6 RBI)
Not So Much: Ramon Hernandez (1-8, .125)
Volquez: The Brewers have had some success against Volquez since coming to Cincinnati (.271/.364/.481). The Brewers have touched Volquez for 7 HR, most to any opponent. One issue that continues to rear its ugly head is control. While Voquez has struck out 35 Brewers in his career, he has also issued 18 BB.
Hits ‘Em: Ryan Braun (.333), Corey Hart (.308, 6 RBI)
Not So Much: Prince Fielder (.143)
Game 2: Shaun Marcum (NR) v Travis Wood (1-0, 3.97)
Marcum: Saturday’s game will be Marcum’s first time facing the Reds.
Wood: This will be only the third time Wood has faced Milwaukee. He has a ND to go along with his win from last season. Interesting note – The Reds have dropped the last five games Wood has started.
No real stats except that Rickie Weeks has homered off Wood.
Game 3: Randy Wolf (10-3, 3.13) v Bronson Arroyo (9-7, 3.77)
Wolf: He’s almost on the level Roy Oswalt was in owning the Reds. The splits against him are fairly impressive (.235/.290/.370). His 10 wins against Cincy are the second most against any team in his carrer (12 v. Mets). Wolf’s career SO/BB ratio against the Reds is an astounding 4.30 (129/30), best against any team.
Hits ‘Em: Jonny Gomes (.625)
Not So Much: Scott Rolen (.083)
Arroyo: Arroyo has held moderate success against Milwaukee in his career. One thing we know is that Arroyo will surrender a dinger or two. The Brewers are no different hitting 19 against the righty (only Houston has hit more off him). He does have 91 career SO versus the Brewers, most against any team.
Hits ‘Em: Craig Counsell (.400), Prince Fielder (3 HR, 7 RBI)
Not So Much: Rickie Weeks (.120)
6 Pack of Brewers Questions (I ask, Lou answers):
Both Lou and I asked the other six question about their team. I have here the six questions I asked Lou about the Brewers. You can catch the six he asked me over on Reviewing the Brew. And yes, they’re good questions, but I feel we need to learn a little about teh Brewers…
1) How much of a cloud is Prince Fielder‘s free agency hanging over the fans?
For the most part, I think Brewers fans have made piece with losing Prince Fielder. At this time last year, I was almost positive that he would not be starting at 1B for the Brewers on Opening Day. I think that last year had more of a cloud than this season does. Most fans thought he would be traded before the All-Star break. Since we know this season will be his last, we will be able to give him a proper send-off. No one can blame the kid for trying to get paid. He has been good to us, so their is no reason to hate.
2) With the talent the Brewers sent in the Greinke and Marcum deals, is there a feeling of “all or nothing” for 2011?
Terrific question. I think Prince Fielder makes this season more of an “all or nothing” season. Both Greinke and Marcum should be back next season, unless the team falls into some sort of horrific tailspin. In 2012, we could see the same team we see today, minus “The Prince” at first base. I do think that their chances are much better with Prince, but I think we will win a lot of games next year too.
3) Who is your most valuable piece to the Brewers 2011 puzzle?
The most valuable piece right now is Zach Greinke. They really do not have a 5th option to start games. Marco Estrada showed some promise in his last few starts of the spring, newly acquired Sergio Mitre could fill in as a starter (but that is a scary thought), or they could skip it altogether. Not having Greinke during April will set the tone for this season. I heard this morning that Greinke might not start a game in April at all. If the team Crew win a fistful of games while he is on the shelf, then they will really shine when he gets off the shelf. Carlos Gomez could also prove to be a vary valuable piece of this teams success.
4) How much confidence is there in John Axford as the guy closing out games with Trevor Hoffman now gone? (Hoffman had to provide him with great advice!)
Well, John got roughed up a few times this spring. He knows it too. The difference between John Axford and your typical bullpen guy, John does not get down on himself. The biggest thing he took from Trevor Hoffman, was his confidence. Ax trusts his stuff and appears to be pretty unflapable when things do fall apart. Plus, his mustache deflects negative thoughts. I also heard that it has it’s own color swatch at Sherwin-Williams, Winchester Oak.
5) What is the general feeling surrounding Yuniesky Betancourt?
For me personally, I just want him to be able to throw it to first base. We know that Yuni can really swing the stick, he hit 16HR’s and had 78 RBI’s on the worst team in the state of Missouri. However, he gets lazy on throws to first. His glove is also below average, but every once in a while he flashes some range. The odds are pretty high that this will be his only season in Milwaukee. Betancourt’s contract is up and he is not a long term solution.
6) Was Ron Roenicke the man for the job?
It’s hard to not think so. Ron says the right things and has the right attitude. Now Steve, your reader’s probably do not know that I live in Seattle, WA. They hired a guy in 2008 named Don Wakamatsu, who said all the right things for his first season. Then things went south in a hurry. My point, is that you never know if your skipper is going to be the right guy. You just hope that the guys respond to him and play to their full potential. Only time will tell. I do know that Bobby Valetine was not the right choice though.
Hot and Cold Players:
For this portion, Lou and I both submitted a list and left it up to the other of who to post on each other’s blog. His list may differ from mine and vice versa.
Chris Heisey: Some people may wonder why he’s not going to start in left field considering he led the Reds in HR (5, tied with Jonny Gomes) and second in RBI (13). His .346 BA during spring training led all Reds position players on the 25 man roster.
Francisco Cordero: Think he knows he has to atone for some misgivings from 2010? He was by far the Reds most effective pitcher while the team was in Arizona.
Brandon Phillips: No surprise here. Over the past 5 seasons, Phillips has established himself as one of the best hitter’s in the game. Brandon comes out of spring camp with a solid .347 batting average. He knocked in 9 runs, hit 5 doubles, nabbed 25 total bases, and did not look to shabby in the field either. Phillips looks poised for a big opening weekend.
Jonny Gomes. Sure hit hit 5 HR and had 11 RBI. That .200 BA isn’t near as pretty as the power numbers. He did pick it up over the last week of spring traing. At one time, his BA was .080.
Edinson Volquez. Yep, the starting pitcher for Opening Day produced some dreadful numbers in Arizona. He did only have three outings due to his visa issues, but the overall numbers are not encouraging: 8.38 ERA, 11 BB, 8 SO. Those 11 BB led the Reds pitching staff…in 9.2 innings.
Scott Rolen: A .209 batting average is not something you want to see, but in this case it might not be such a bad thing. Last year his spring batting average was .220, and then he went on to hit .285 with 20HR’s and 83 RBI’s in the regular season. Rolen is a seasoned veteran, so there is no reason to fret. Scott starts the season 56 hits away from the 2,000 career hits plateau.
Rickie Weeks: Weeks was the hottest batter on Brewers roster this March. RW hit .442, 4 doubles, a triple, home run, and 4 RBI’s. He was on base 50% of the time in his spring appearances. Everyone in Brew City is hoping he can keep those wrists healthy. Rickie is always a risk for injuries, but when he can play he will get his fair share of hits.
Carlos Gomez: Carlos needed to have a good spring in order to make the roster, so when he hit 3 HR’s and knocked in 12 runs Chris Dickerson got traded. Gomez still has not mastered the art of taking a walk, but this spring he showed that he can get on base and provide a little extra power if necessary. We will see if his nice spring can morph into a great 2011 season.
Yovani Gallardo: The team ace was in top form during the Ides of March. Yo posted a 1.96 ERA in his 5 spring starts. In just 18 innings of work, he recorded 23 strikeouts. Even if Greinke had not had a “Shaq Attack”, Gallardo should have been the Opening Day starter. His confidence will be pretty high to start the season.
Craig Counsell: Craig Counsell is one of Milwaukee’s most beloved son’s. That is the only reason he made the team this season. Counsell did not record a hit until his 13th AB of the spring. Craig wrapped up the spring with a .214 battting average. If it was not for his folk hero status in the Brew city, Counsell could be looking for employment elsewhere.
Nyjer Morgan: A very late addition to the team make-up, his Cold ranking is due to state of mind more than play on the field. Having spent almost the entire spring playing with the Nationals, Nyjer now has to learn to fit in with a new team and in a new role. It has probably been a few years since he was coming in to games off of the bench. If he can leave the past in D.C. alone, he will be successful for the Brewers.
Randy Wolf: Randy Wolf wishes that he had the kind of spring that Mike Leake had. Wolf’s ERA was 8.74, he pitched in 6 games and racked up 22.2 innings. In that time he gave up 22 earned runs, 34 hits, 7 walks, and 4 HR’s. This was by far the worst spring campaign of his career. The last thing the Brewers need is another Jeff Suppan.