Reds Hit Atlanta for the Weekend


I bet some of the good guys could simply not wait to vacate the team hotel in Philly and head south to Atlanta. Hopefully, this weekend will be more enjoyable for the team and fans than what this past week provided. Here’s how the pitching matchups go for the three games…

Game 1 – Friday @ 7:35 PM ET

Reds: Mike Leake (season: 3-2, 5.70 ERA; career v. Braves: 0-0, 1.50 ERA) VS.
Braves :Tommy Hanson (season:5-3, 2.72ERA; career v. Reds: 1-1,5.40 ERA)

Leake started the season in the Reds starting rotation due to Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey taking residence on the 15-day DL. After both had returned, Leake was placed in the bullpen not only due to Cueto and Bailey returning, but for the mixed bag of results he had. More struggles saw Leake sent to Triple-A Louisville in order to get consistent work if anything.

Well, that hasn’t exactly been looking so rosy. In his two outings (one start, one relief), Leake has been knocked around a bit (BAA is .343 allowing 8 runs and 12 hits in 7.1 innings). But there is one encouraging sign in looking at the numbers, Leake’s GO/AO ratio for his relief outing was 5.00. Yes, the other team did score (a lot), but maybe we’re starting to see him work more on getting the ball down in the zone. Oh, and in his 7.1 innings, not one walk.

Hanson was on a roll…until last Saturday. He had allowed two earned runs or less in five consecutive outings before the Angels roughed him up a bit (4 ER in 6 IP). The Braves still won that game 5-4 in 12 innings. What got him in that outing? One thing was Hanson walking 4, his highest number of walks in a game this season. In his outing before that, Hanson struck 10 Astros en route to the victory.

It is interesting to note that Hanson has not gone beyond 7 innings this season. Just as interesting is that he’s gone over 100 pitches in an outing only on four occasions. Considering what Atlanta has waiting in the pen (Jonny Venters and closer Craig Kimbrel, who is 14 for 18 in save opportunities), 7 innings is usually all you need to give.

Hanson relies mostly on his fastball (55.3%) which averages in the low 90’s. He can also toss a slider (23.4%) and spin a curve (14.9%). While he does have a changeup, he doesn’t throw it all that often (6.5%).

Game 2 – Saturday @ 7:10 PM ET

Reds: Bronson Arroyo (season: 3-5, 5.28 ERA; v. Braves: 6-3, 5.29 ERA) VS.
Braves: Derek Lowe (season: 3-4, 3.53 ERA; v. Reds: 4-2, 3.00 ERA)

After Arroyo’s last outing that saw him surrender 9 rins and 10 hits, he was sent back to Cincinnati with a back issue that was diagnosed as spasms. This may have been a bit of a lingering problem as Arroyo has been prone to the long ball this season (12 in 59.2 innings). He hasn’t looked like the Bronson we all know and love either. Well, not since the beginning of the season despite starting the year with mono.

He had a bullpen session on Thursday and all must be all right as Arroyo is still slated to the the hill for this game. One thing we know about Arroyo: he will, on any occasion, take one for the team. It was obvious he was trying to save the pen in his last outing, but it spiraled to the point where it became a moot point.

If you have watched Lowe pitch over the years, you know he can still sling a ball that possesses a wicked sink. That sinker has not been sinking as much this season as it has in the past. For 2011, Lowe’s GB% is at it’s lowest (55.7%) for his career (62.7% including this season). But in getting those ground balls over half the time, it always keeps a potential double play in order.

Lowe has not been the model of consistency as of late either.Kind of a Jeckyl and Hyde act with good outing, bad outing (by Lowe’s standards). The unfortunate part is that Lowe is due for a good outing for this game as the Angels did get to him for 3 runs in 6 innings his last time out. Previous to that, Lowe hurled 7 innings and surrendered only 1 run, but received no decision in a 3-1 Braves win.

We know about that sinking fastball Lowe throws (48.9%), but he also will throw a slider (27.5%), changeup (15.5%), and a cutter every now and then (4.5%).

Game 3 – Sunday @ 8:00 PM ET

The Reds will be in the national spotlight once again. They just have to win one of these games eventually, right?

Reds: Johnny Cueto (season: 2-1, 2.19 ERA; v. Braves: 1-0, 3.44 ERA) VS
Braves: Jair Jurrjens (season: 6-1, 1.56 ERA; v. Reds: 0-3, 6.75 ERA)

Cueto has been a savior of sorts for the good guys. He came storming out of the gates to begin is 2011, but has hit a couple of bumps in his last two games. He only went 5 innings against Pittsburgh (a 5-3 loss) and 6 innings when he last toed the slab against Philly (ND). Those last two outings, it was apparent Cueto did not have his best stuff, but worked through it. His last game saw the Reds finally persevere with a 6-3 win in Philadelphia.

And those two outings showed me something. Cueto is learning to pitch even when he’s not “right” with his stuff. A big step for a young pitcher.

With Jurrjens, you could be looking at an early favorite for the NL Cy Young. Like Cueto, Jurrjens began the 2011 season on the DL, but has he ever performed since joining the Braves starting staff. In all 8 of his outings, he has provided no less than 6 innings of work (including a complete game) and allowed no more than 2 earned runs. That is what you call “on a roll”. Yes, 8 outings, 8 quality starts.

You might be wondering a couple of things: how do you score on him and how did he lose a game? You don’t exactly score on Jurrjens. In the outing in which he took the loss (v. Arizona), he only allowed 2 runs in 6.2 innings. All you can do is hope to outscore the Braves. The D-backs did just that in the only game Jurrjens lost. The opposing pitchers for that game? It wasn’t Ian Kennedy or Daniel Hudson. It was Joshua Collmenter. Goes to show that the Reds do have a chance in this one.

Jurrjens features a fastball (58.5%) that can hit the low 90’s, a changeup (23.4%) and will also throw in a slider (18.1%) just to throw you off a little more.


In looking at the rosters, the Braves will be without two-thirds of their starting outfield with Nate McLouth (oblique) and Jason Heyward (shoulder) currently on the DL. The Reds are fortunate to have the full allotment of their position players available. The loss of Heyward’s power could be a little troublesome for the Braves. While the Reds have scored more runs (254) than any other team in the NL, Atlanta is in the bottom half (9th with 200).

But the big contrast can be seen in the last 10 games. The Reds are 2-8 while the Braves are 6-4. But Cincy can take some positives from the last two losses in Philly despite the 19-inning game letdown and yesterday’s beatdown. That would be the Reds produced some decent offense against the likes of Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, the vaunted 1-2 punch of the Phillies. They had their fair share of chances against Halladay and Lee looked almost like a normal pitcher yesterday.

And there is no one that has been hotter over the last week than Jay Bruce. In the last 7 games, Bruce is 12-for-27 with 4 HR and 12 RBI. His 14 HR leads the NL by 2 over Ryan Braun and Matt Kemp.