The Ohio Cup, Part I


Starting this evening we will witness the beginnings from baseball supremacy within the state of Ohio in a three game series between the Cincinnati Reds and the Cleveland Indians. At stake…the Ohio Cup. While the Ohio Cup may not hold the glamor of different “cups” like the Ryder Cup, the Stanley Cup or America’s Cup, but it does mean a great deal to the teams that compete for it. At this point in the MLB season, it holds a bit more importance than in recent history because both teams are having seasons that could propel each into the playoffs.

The Ohio Cup: Cincinnati Reds (25-19) v. Cleveland Indians (26-15)

Yes…there it is. And here’s a list of things to be aware of for this weekend’s series.

First off, let’s look at the pitching matchups for all three games. Before I delve into this too much, I would like to state that within this I will not be gearing this a little more toward the Indians than the Reds. As was stated earlier this week, we have to know about the opponent. But there will be a fair amount of coverage levies the Red direction as well. And those matchups…

Game 1: Travis Wood (3-3, 5.01 ERA) v. Alex White (1-0, 3.75); Game time – 7:05 PM

Kind of a strange thing about Wood. Almost two-thirds of his starts have come away from GABP (17 of 26). In those 17 games away from home, Wood is 6-3 while holding an ERA of 3.43 and a WHIP of 1.057. Considering that Progressive Field (still hard to call the Indians home that) is a pitchers park (by Baseball Reference), this should be a good place for Wood to find a groove.

And as you would expect, Wood has very little issues with lefty batters while the righties tend to provide more problems.

Alex White comes into this game having a whirlwind of a minor league career. This game will mark his fourth ML start and appearance. For this preseason’s Baseball America rankings, White was considered the Tribe’s top prospect and their #47 prospect overall.

We frequently hear that you can’t so much look at the W’s and L’s when a kid is in the minors (he was 11-10), it’s the other numbers you look at when attempting to judge performance. In just 30 minor league games, White compiled some impressive numbers.A 2.37 ERA and a 1.107 WHIP are some pretty nice stats for a starter at any level. And a SO/BB ratio of 2.84 isn’t so bad either especially when you consider White only walked 51 in 174.1 innings (a BB/9 of 2.6). That’s pretty decent control.

Game 2: Homer Bailey (3-0. 1.69 ERA) v. Josh Tomlin (5-1, 2.56 ERA); Game time – 4:05 PM

For Homer Bailey 2011 didn’t exactly begin on a high note when right before Opening Day he was placed on the DL. Well, whatever work was done with that “impingement” has certainly paid dividends in his three starts since returning from the DL. And it’s not so much of his numbers as it is, and dare I say, his presence. The whole team seemed to get a slight lift from Bailey’s return especially when you look at his first outing of the season.

Sure, Bailey got knocked around a little in his last time out on the hill, but I think he’s at the stage where he’s “figured it out”. You can see him pitching rather than throwing. He lends his little “turnaround” to the fact that he and pitching coach Bryan Price are now both on the same page. Bailey looks more confident (I know it’s only three starts) and more like a first round pick (as if there’s really a look for one).

Tomlin is an interesting study. I say that completely from a statistical standpoint. It’s almost bizarre when you look at his home and away splits. It’s only 20 games, but it really is just downright bizarre.

So if you look at these numbers, you would think that Tomlin does not perform well at home and, like Travis Wood, does rather nicely away from Progressive Field. Here’s the bizarre part. At home, Tomlin is 8-1 with a 3.30 ERA and a WHIP of 1.197. His splits against are .257/.300/.460 and he has surrendered 9 HR. On the road, he is 3-4 and the owner of a 4.14 ERA and the WHIP is0.968. Yes, I did a triple take on that. And toss in the splits of .207/.259/.396 with 9 HR.

And if you go with a lefty loaded lineup against Tomlin (he’s a righty), you may be making a mistake, too. Right-handed hitters have posted an average 41 points higher than that of lefties (.256 compared to .215). But yet opposing managers like to run a few more lefty bats at Tomlin as he has faced more LHB (284 PA) than RHB (219 PA).

Game 3: Edinson Volquez (3-1, 5.59 ERA) v. Carlos Carrasco (2-2, 5.03); game time – 1:05 PM

I could write more about Volquez, but I imagine by now you’ve either already read it or heard it. There. Done with that.

Concerning Carrasco, he will be making only his 20th start of his career even though he’s been on the Indians roster for three seasons. Okay, they have all been only for a portion of three seasons.

I would say this game is one that the Reds should win because Carrasco hasn’t exactly been scintillating this season. His career splits against cannot be particularly pleasing to the Tribe faithful (.310/.369/.489 with 13 HR). Of course, you could assume that since Carrasco carries a 4-8 lifetime record that such numbers might be in order. And that assumption, in this case, is correct.

And it hasn’t really mattered if Carrasco has pitched at home or on the road. Opponents are hitting over .300 (.309 at home, .311 on the road) no matter what mounds he is taking. The only difference in in the HR category (5 at home, 8 away), but we’ve already touched on his home park being considered pitcher friendly.

So, how do these matchups all shake down on a game-by-game basis?

You could make an argument that Cincinnati could take 2 of the 3 games based on these matchups alone, but Reds fans have witnessed on more than one occasion where a supposed “no-name” pitcher can hurl an absolute gem against them (Ian Kennedy and Charlie Morton has each thrown two brilliant games against the Reds so far this season). Therefore, I will go no further in this discussion. Yes, maybe I’m really starting to believe in bad karma.


Just a couple of tables to where we can compare the numbers between the Reds and the Indians offensively and pitching-wise.

In viewing tables, there is one difference…starting pitching. The Indians starters, despite being in the American League have a bit better numbers that the “vaunted” Reds staff. Offensively, the teams pretty much are even…really even. The bullpens slightly favor the Indians as well. But in going back to the starters for this series, it may be a bit more even than if we simply look at these tables.

Some things to Watch

– So far, Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo have played in every game for the Tribe.
– Reds skipper Dusty Baker has been contemplating using Jonny Gomes as his DH. I look for that as Baker has taken a liking to Chris Heisey being his big bat off the bench. That’s if Heisey doesn’t get a start in this series.
– The Indians are a mind-blowing 15-4 at home this season. The Reds record away from GABP? 10-8…
– If it’s late in a game and Indians manager Manny Acta wants to nullify the lefty bats of Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, look for Acta to go to Tony Sipp out of the Tribe pen. LHB are 0-for-23 with 8 SO against him so far this season.
– There are a pair on infielders to keep your eyes glued to: Asdrubal Cabrera and Brandon Phillips. Both can hit and have made multiple web gems so far this season.
– And I simply cannot overlook Orlando Cabrera. He was a key cog in the Reds winning the NL Central last season. Now, look what he has going on up in Cleveland. As I have said, if OC is on your roster, you’re chances of winning just increased. All he does is win.

As of now, about four hours until the Battle for the Ohio Cup commences.