Before starting a critical 10-game stretch against division rivals Milwaukee and St Louis, the Cincinnati Reds have a 3-game grudge match against the Cleveland Indians this weekend.

When the Reds last faced the Indians in late May, Cleveland was sitting on top of the baseball world. They had the best record in all of baseball (.659 WPct), the best run differential at +66, a 7 game lead in the AL Central division, and were already 14 games over .500. At the time, they had outscored their opponents 5.2 to 3.7 runs per game.

The game has played out a bit differently for the Indians since the Reds left Cleveland. Since sweeping the Reds, Cleveland is only 13-22, a .371 Wpct. During that time, they have only scored an average of 3.2 runs per game while allowing 4.8 runs per game. Cleveland dropped into second place in their division yesterday, 0.5 games behind Detroit, and 3.5 games back in the AL wildcard race.

Cincinnati has done much better at scoring runs and preventing runs during that timeframe, but they don’t have the positive record to support that. After getting swept by Cleveland, the Reds are just 17-18 despite scoring 4.5 runs per game during that time and allowing only 4.0 runs per game. The NL Central is a bit tighter race than it was back in May. After games played on May 22, the Reds were in sole possession of 2nd place, 2.5 games behind the Cardinals. Now the Reds are tied for 3rd place with Pittsburgh but just 2 games behind St. Louis and Milwaukee.

On paper, the pitching matchups in this series favor the Reds. Indians Game 1 starter, Justin Masterson, has been the unluckiest pitcher in baseball these past two months. He started the season 5-0 in his first 5 April starts. The team scored 33 runs for Masterson in those 5 starts, while he allowed only 8 earned runs. However, in May and June, Masterson has an 0-6 record in 11 starts. He’s allowed only 27 earned runs in those starts, but the team has scored only 22 runs in those 11 games.

Bronson Arroyo gets the ball for game 1 for Cincinnati. Jason wrote a great piece on Arroyo yesterday. Hopefully, Arroyo bounces back with better health, better luck, and a great second half.

Pitching matchups for this series are:

Game 1:
Justin Masterson, 5-6, 2.98 ERA, 3.58 xFIP, 1.32 WHIP – last outing allowed 0 ER in 6.2 innings but got the loss from 1 unearned run
Bronson Arroyo, 7-6, 5.01 ERA, 4.10 xFIP, 1.39 WHIP – allowed 4 HR in last start; has done that only 1 other time in Reds uniform – April 2008 vs. Phillies in GABP

Game 2:
Fausto Carmona, 4-10, 5.89 ERA, 4.45 xFIP, 1.42 WHIP – 10 BB and 9 K in his last 4 starts (19.2 innings)
Homer Bailey, 3-2, 3.86 ERA, 3.55 xFIP, 1.14 WHIP – 5 ER in 5 innings in his last start, his first off DL

Game 3:
Mitch Talbot, 2-4, 4.96 ERA, 4.10 xFIP, 1.65 WHIP – hasn’t won a game since May 31
Mike Leake, 7-4, 3.89 ERA, 3.68 xFIP, 1.20 WHIP – 6 scoreless innings in last outing; 6 QS in 7 starts since returning from AAA

6 Responses

  1. Steve

    What a great post! It has me all fired up. Go Reds!

    I’m planning on going to all three games this weekend and can’t wait to watch the team return the favor to the Tribe.

  2. Dave Lowenthal

    @Steve: As I said Wednesday, I’m calling a sweep by the Reds.

    I also can see a sweep in the Cards series, but not the kind that we like.

  3. OhioJim

    It is incredible to me that as much as the Reds struggled in June here they are only 2 games back but unfortunately in 4th.

    That said they just need to continue taking care of business within the division like they have to date (except of course vs. the Pirates where they have to pick it up) and they should be OK.

    The Reds don’t have to go west of the Rockies or into Pfillie in the second half. This could turn out to be large given their traditional travails in in those locations. Maybe just as importantly, except for the one trip to Denver, they are not going to have long trips with multiple hour time zone changes which is something that can really wear a team down late in the season.

  4. Greg Dafler

    The opposing pitchers are like the opposite of what the club faced in Tampa.

    @OhioJim: As much as the Reds struggled in June, they had a winning record: 14-12.

    After the 10 games against St Louis and Milwaukee, they have 3 head-to-head with the Pirates. Definitely time to take care of business!

  5. OhioJim

    @Greg Dafler: I started to describe June as a “scuffle” versus a “struggle” but switched. Should have stuck wiht my first instinct. It is still amazing they are only 2 back after what has gone down to date.

  6. pinson343

    I’ve been thinking sweep for this series too. Our worst pitching matchup (on paper) is tonite. If the Reds win tonite, they’re on their way.