What could have turned into a disaster of a road trip, ended up being a memorable one. Everybody seems to be on cloud 9 after the sweep in Tampa Bay.
Just as the Mets have had to forget about their poor outings and focus on the next game, they must forget about the sweep and worry about today.
This team is tenacious. However, I feel they sometimes get a tad too comfortable in success. For example, when they took the final two games in Colorado it seemed like they got comfortable in Houston and wound up getting swept away in a forgettable series.
Now, the success in Tampa has to stay in Tampa. The Reds are coming into town tonight, and this is not the same Reds team from a month ago. When the Mets and Reds met in May, the Reds ended the series 1 game over .500. They are currently 8 games over.
Now the Reds sit atop the NL Central, and they are looking to separate themselves from the pack at the hands of the Mets.
Friday, 7:10 pm: Bronson Arroyo v. Dillon Gee
Arroyo is a guy I was always hoping the Mets would get after the 07 collapse. He’s an absolute workhorse. Along with that, he pitches very well against the Mets. According to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com, Arroyo has three complete games and five other eight-inning appearances in 12 starts against the Mets.
For the Mets, Dillon Gee has deserved a better fate in each of his last 3 starts. He’s thrown 20.2 innings, allowed 7 earned runs, and has 1 loss and 2 ND to show for it.
Gee’s 109 pitches through 7 innings against the Yankees was the most pitches+furthest into a game he’s gone all season. Normally when his pitch count is in the 100’s he doesn’t get past the 5th or 6th.
Gee needs to get off the snide here and get himself a victory. The bullpen has looked decent the last couple of nights so hopefully they can come through for him if necessary.
Saturday, 7:15pm: Homer Bailey v. Jon Niese
Very intriguing pitching matchup here. Two young pitchers both trying to make a name for themselves within their respective rotations.
Bailey has had 2 starts in which he got trounced, but other than that he has been pretty consistent. He’s a lot like Gee in a sense that he throws a lot of pitches by about the 6th inning.
He will put the ball in play a lot, so the defense of the Reds will be vital here.
This could be a matchup of bullpens. That obviously should worry Mets fans.
Niese pitched very well against the Yankees, he allowed 2 runs to score but both were un earned through 7 innings. Niese has not allowed an earned run in his 2 June appearances.
Sunday, 1:10pm: Johnny Cueto v. Chris Young
Okay I don’t think I’ve actually said this in a post of mine, but I love watching Young pitch. Make no mistake, he is not an ace or anything like that. However, if he’s your #4/#5 pitcher, how can you complain?
He’s a solid pitcher, and I think after his post-hook interview with Burkhardt last week, I officially became a fan.
If he stays healthy he can be a massive different maker for this team.
The ace of the Reds pitching staff will face Young on Sunday. Cueto is 7-3 right now, and is closing in on pitching his way to the All-Star Game.
In Cueto’s last start he trounced the Indians in complete game fashion. Cueto is showing good command this year, and could be a thorn in the patient Mets side if they are not careful.
They got the ball rolling in Tampa Bay, and they beat up on some good pitchers. All eyes will be focused on Ike Davis this weekend. He showed brief glimpses that he could find his own way out of this funk.
With 3 right handed starters on the docket, it’s now or never for Davis. Ike is a .102 hitter at home compared to a .248 hitter on the road.
The Mets are getting contributions from so many different players that it’s hard to figure out which roster moves might be made down the road.
VIEW FROM THEIR WINDOW
I again was joined by Kris Vigneron of Red Reporter! to chat a little Reds baseball!
1. The Pirates caught the Reds for a brief second there. Is the NL Central a 2 team (Cin/Stl) or 3, 4 team race?
You know, I keep looking over my shoulder at the Brewers. I keep thinking they might just make a move, but then they just keep losing key players to catastrophic injuries. Jon Lucroy, Alex Gonzalez, and Mat Gamel are all out, and Rickie Weeks is out to lunch. No team can lose half their lineup and survive. Their rotation is still scary, but I think they’ve wasted it. Which is a shame, really, because the good people of Milwaukee deserve better.
As for the people of Pittsburgh and St. Louis, they can all go climb a tree. The Brewers may have lost half their offense, but the Pirates never had one to lose in the first place. Andrew McCutchen is one of the best players in the NL, but they don’t really have anyone else. They had a nice little run there for a few weeks, but we’ll see where they are in August. If they are still hanging around, I might start to worry. But I don’t think they will.
So if I’m feeling magnanimous, I’d say it’s a four-team race. But let’s be real. It’s the Cards and the Reds.
2. Is it a coincidence that as Brandon Phillips heated up so did the Reds? How vital to their success if he?
Over the last 30 games, the Reds are 19-11 and El BeePerino is slashing .325/.375/.530. There is certainly a correlation there, but I don’t necessarily see it as a direct causation. The most important cause of the Reds’ recent success is the best hitter in baseball, Joey Votto. He’s slashing .429/.520/.829 over that same period. The English language is struggling mightily right now to come up with superlatives that accurately describe his brilliance. It’s definitely nice to have other guys in the lineup hitting well, but let’s not over-think this. Phillips is vital to the Reds’ success in the sense that it takes all 25 guys to make a winning ball club. But this team relies on Joey Votto as much as any team relies on any one player.
3. What did a Reds fan learn about the Mets in the quick 2 game series we had a month ago?
Firstly, I learned that RA Dickey is a mensch. He pitched well against the Reds the last time out, and it looks like he’s only gotten better over the interim. Guys like him are always extra frustrating for me to watch, because the Reds have had a very difficult time over the last 20 years cultivating pitching talent. Before Johnny Cueto, the last pitcher of any note that came up through the Reds system was Brett Tomko.
So watching a lottery-ticket-waiver-claim-shot-in-the-dark kind of pitcher like Dickey succeed is extra frustrating, because the Reds have tried to build a rotation out of guys like him for years and have utterly failed at doing so. But good for him, you know? He seems like a good fella and it’s always good to see good things happening to good people.
I also learned that Mike Baxter has the most made-for-TV name in baseball right now. Mike Baxter sounds like the name of the main character of a new hit dramedy on TNT this fall. “Mike Baxter is a hot young divorce lawyer who moonlights as a stand-up comedian on the new hit show LAWLZ! Watch as Mike tries to balance his work life in court with his night life in the comedy club, all while dealing with his own divorce from his wife and trying to raise his autistic son.”
4. How did the Reds do in the MLB Draft in your view?
Our resident draft guru Thundering Turtle was pleased overall with the draft, and any and all opinions I have on it are gleaned from him. He does, in my opinion, the best team-specific draft analysis on the entire internet. But yeah, overall I’m cool with the draft. Reds Director of Amateur Scouting Chris Buckley has done very well since taking over the draft for the Reds, so he’s earned a ton of confidence from the fanbase.
1st round pick Nick Travieso has been compared to Matt Cain, who just threw a perfect game. So by the law of the transitive property, Travieso will be really good or something. They also got a few other really interesting prospects in guys like Jesse Winker and Tanner Rahier, plus some good college arms, too. It’s always difficult to project a baseball draft because these guys are so far away from the big leagues, but inasmuch as we can, I like what I see.
5. Arredondo, Hoover, Simon, Ondrusek, Marshall, Chapman make up a bullpen that makes any Mets fan jealous. Other than Chapman, they aren’t household names. What are Reds fans thinking about this bullpen, and the method in which their team went about building a bullpen?
Let us not forget that the bullpen could also have Ryan Madson, Nick Masset, and Billy Bray, all of whom have been injured all season thus far. This could really have been a bullpen of legendary proportions, but I guess we’ll settle for being merely awesomepitchy.
I’m really thrilled with the way Walt Jocketty has built this bullpen. Arredondo was non-tendered by the Angels when he needed Tommy John surgery, so the Reds got him as something of a reclamation project. Hoover was gotten in return for out-of-options circus performer Juan Francisco, whom I never really had any faith in to begin with. Simon was claimed off waivers from the Orioles.
Ondrusek is a Red born and bred, drafted in a the 13th round back in ’05. Marshall was gotten in a trade with the Cubs over the off-season, and of course, Chapman was a big time international free agent. Bullpens are always so volatile, I’m generally loathe to spend too much treasure attempting to build one. If you know what you are doing, and I think Walt does, then you can build a tremendous staff like this without killing your payroll or giving up valuable prospects.
Madson was a big ticket free agent signing, so perhaps he serves as a reminder that guys like Simon and Arredondo can pitch just as well for a fraction of the price.
The one problem I have with this ‘pen is that Aroldis Chapman is in it. The slate of injuries to key guys in the spring necessitated it, but that doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it. He’s just way too good to not be starting, but things are going really well the way it is so I won’t bitch too much about it.
6. What adversity have the Reds had to overcome thus far? It seems like they’ve been pretty lucky with injuries etc.
As I just mentioned, the injuries that racked the bullpen in the spring drastically changed the makeup of the team, even if the quality hasn’t suffered much for it. Bray should be back within the week though and Masset should hopefully be back by the All-Star break. Scott Rolen has been out for over a month with his chronically bum shoulder, but he should be back within the week, as well. Though I’m not sure I even want him back with the way Todd Frazier has performed in his stead. So it will be interesting to see how that unfolds.
But yeah, other than that, the team has so far avoided catastrophic injury. They’ve only had the original five members of the rotation start a game so far, and the most important offensive players have all remained healthy (more or less). The bench is really thin and the high minors devoid of suitable replacements, so they almost have to remain so healthy if they want a shot at this thing.
7. Gun to your head now, will the Reds win the NL?
First thing’s first – they need to win the NL Central before we start talking about winning the whole dang NL. I think they are the leader right now for the Central pennant, so I feel pretty good at this point that they will have a shot in the playoffs. But it’s still June, so anything can happen over the next few months.
So if you put a gun to my head right now and asked me if the Reds will go to the World Series, I would plead with you for more time. And I would wonder how in the hell I got myself in this situation, with a stranger Mets fan from the internet demanding a life-or-death answer to such an existentially arbitrary question. And then I would wonder how clean the gun was. Then I would say, “Yes! The Reds will win because they are my favorite team!” because I like living and I like the Reds even more.
OVER/UNDER RUNS: (10-3 on the season) Tonight’s over/under is set to 8, which is pretty high when you consider the highest Subway Series o/u was 8.5. I’m going to go with Vegas on this one and assume if tonight is high scoring then the rest of the series likely will be. I’ll set the serieso/u at 23.5 and go OVER.
METS POTS: I believe if the Mets win this series, the bullpen will have to come up big.
KEEP YOUR EYES ON: Brandon Phillips is red hot right now. He and Votto are looking like the player we all know them to be. When they first came here, that wasn’t the case.
I’LL BE DRINKING A: variety of beers. We had a little party last weekend and so my fridge is stocked with all sorts of different beers. Seeing as this will be my 2nd Father’s Day, I will enjoy several. Since I must pick one, try 312 Urban Wheat Ale. Brewed in Chicago, take that Reds fans!