Looking at Today’s Starters: Reds/Cubs

By taking the first game of the series, the Reds showed that they really can win ugly. You gotta admit it really was just that. Hopefully, today will be a bit cleaner.

Today’s pitching matchup seems to be a bit lopsided. For the Reds, veteran Bronson Arroyo will toe the slab while the Cubs will send Casey Coleman, pitching is his 17th career game, to the mound. Let’s look at a few things for both Arroyo and Coleman…

Bronson Arroyo – season: 3-3, 4.17 ERA; career v Cubs: 9-7, 2.80 ERA

When Arroyo has started at Wrigley, he is 6-3 with a 3.09 ERA. Looking at his career numbers against the Cubs and at Wrigley, you could say he’s done pretty darn good when it comes to the Cubbies. But when you look at Arroyo’s 2011 season thus far, you hope he has one of those outings in him today.

In checking his stats for 2011, Arroyo’s current SO/BB is the best it’s ever been (4.29). But that’s a bit misleading because his current H/9 (10.1) is his highest since he was a Pirate in 2001 (10.1 as well), his second season in the league. And his HR/9 (1.7) is the worst of his career. We know he’ll allow a long ball every now and then so we kind of, sort of deal with that aspect of his game.

And another little quirky note here. We’ve known Arroyo as an innings eater since he arrived in Cincinnati. Through his six starts in 2011, he’s only gone 36.2 innings. We might think that Bronson goes seven innings in every outing. We’re actually expecting him to get that far. Now part of that might be attributed to his starting the season with mono, right? His first outing saw him go 7 innings and he didn’t get that far into a game again until his last outing.

You could look at the run support the Reds have provided for him (5.77) and wonder why is he only 3-3. In his wins, the Reds have plated 27 runs. In those three losses, only 7. You could say the Reds bats go as Arroyo goes in his starts. If he pitches well, they usually score. If Arroyo struggles, they don’t.

The current Cubs roster doesn’t exactly do well off of Arroyo either. How about these splits: .193/.241/.302. Marlon Byrd and Blake DeWitt are both 5-16 against him. Kosuke Fukudome (3-19, .158) and Alfonso Soriano (8-43, .186, 12 SO) almost dread seeing him on the hill.

Casey Coleman – season: 1-2, 7.36 ERA; career v Reds: 0-0, 6.00 ERA

Today will be Coleman’s second career start against Cincy and third overall appearance. There really isn’t a whole lot to get from looking at his career numbers against the Reds since he’s had less than 20 overall appearances. The only thing to check is the bottom line of the Reds roster. It looks like this: 10-31 (.323) with only 1 HR surrendered (Jay Bruce), 2 BB and 1 SO in 9 innings.

So why has Coleman struggles this year? There are numbers and then there are numbers. These numbers are not want you want to see: 13 BB/12 SO, 1.964 WHIP, 11.3 H/9. Add to the fact that in four starts, Coleman has only managed to go a total of 18.1 innings (with his longest outing being 5.2 innings), and I think you get the picture. Yes, at this point the Cubs deeply miss the likes of Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner within their starting rotation.

In Coleman’s last outing against Arizona, he went 5 innings, allowing 4 runs on 4 hits, but issued 5 walks. He threw 94 pitches with only 48 being strikes.

And if the wind is blowing out today, it could be yet another short outing for him as his GB/FB ratio is none too flattering: 25 GB, 42 FB. Couple that with in his only start at Wrigley this season (2.2 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 4 BB, 4 SO) and you get an even bigger clue of Coleman’s struggles in 2011.

Now, let’s be frank here. For a better portion of this season, the Reds have struggled against pitchers they should be knocking around the park. We’ve seen more than a handful of occasions.

Hopefully, today is NOT one of those.