After yesterday’s rain, the Reds will play a twin-bill today against the South Side Chicago team. Fans with tickets to the original game today will be able to stay for the second game, which will start 30 minutes after the first but not before 7:10 EST. For yesterday’s preview of all things that didn’t and won’t ever happen, go here.
STARTING PITCHERS (GAME 1)
All stats are 2015 actuals:
Because of the rain, the world will never see the pitching matchup of the century that was yesterday’s probables. Instead, today we get the more David vs. Goliath-esque matchup of Johnny Cueto against Hector Noesi. If you’re thinking, “But Goliath lost,” like I am, keep in mind that David had tremendous aim while Noesi’s 13.4% walk rate doesn’t quite convey the same talent. It’s my theory that Price has moved Cueto to the first game so that he gets run support to skew the numbers so the fans can’t complain anymore.
Before the season, ZiPS projected Noesi to post an ERA of 6.05 with a FIP of 5.67. Based on the table above, it seems like this is the Noesi the Sox are going to get this season. The only time Noesi has ever pitched against the Reds was 1.2 innings of relief, during which he gave up six earned runs on eight hits.
Johnny Cueto was not his usual self last time out as he gave up five earned runs in just 6 innings of work. For the season, Cueto’s groundball percentage (39.1%) is well below where it has been (46.2% last year) and is his lowest figure since his 2008 rookie season (38.6%). Obviously that number should come down as the season trundles along, but for now, the increased fly ball to ground ball ratio shows that Cueto is leaving the ball up in the zone where it’s easier to hit.
STARTING PITCHERS (GAME 2)
Marquis’ stats are 2015, Rodon’s are minor league:
Carlos Rodon’s professional baseball career consists of seven minor league starts (five at AAA), two minor league relief appearances, and three major league relief appearances. That’s it. This time last year, he was still pitching for NC State, winding up his junior college season. To go from college star to major league rookie in less than a year is baffling to me, but it’s the situation the White Sox star prospect is in. Today, he gets the start in place of the suspended Jeff Samardzija. Regardless of how the rookie pitches, Sox manager Robin Ventura expects him to be back in the bullpen after this start. Fangraphs did an excellent analysis of the young pitcher before the season that details his entire pitch selection and how he uses it.
Once again, Jason Marquis will take the mound for the Cincinnati Reds. For his career against the White Sox, Marquis has made four starts to the tune of a 9.00 ERA with 32 hits allowed in 24.0 innings. He also has a 2-1 record in those four starts. Jason Marquis’ win-loss records make me believe in magic.
Joey Votto will be serving his suspension in the first game as Skip Schumaker DH’s instead of Devin Mesoraco in the Reds‘ lineup:
The White Sox lineup:
WHITE SOX SPOTLIGHTS
Given that the Reds haven’t played the White Sox since 2009 and that generally Reds’ fans wouldn’t have a reason to follow White Sox baseball, we figured it would be nice to give you all a general rundown of the Chicago team.
At first, the Sox have Jose Abreu, a hard hitting Cuban who broke out in his rookie season last year. Abreu blasted 36 home runs and posted a .317 batting average to earn the AL Rookie of the Year honors. He was also named to the AL All-Star team and finished fourth in MVP voting. Abreu totaled a 5.5 WAR last season, but his defense left some to be desired as evidenced by his -2.0 dWAR.
At short, eight-year veteran Alexei Ramirez returns after being named an All-Star and winning the Silver Slugger award last season. Ramirez finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting back when he broke in to the league in 2008, and he has consistently been worth around a 3.0 WAR each season since. While not an outstanding defender by any means, Ramirez has posted a positive dWAR every season save his rookie campaign.
Finally, in left, the Sox signed oft-maligned outfielder Melky Cabrera in the offseason. Now two years removed from his PED suspension, Cabrera still hits for average and gets on base at a decent clip. For his career, Cabrera is a .288 hitter with a .339 OBP, but last year he hit .301 with a .351 OBP.
As a team, the White Sox are miserable in terms of defense, baserunning, and hitting for power. According to Fangraphs, the White Sox team .100 ISO is 30th in the league, they’re five stolen bases ranks them 29th, and they’re defensive value (Def) of -15.2 ranks them 29th, only ahead of the Athletics. This team seems to be carried by they’re one-two punch at the top of their rotation and the hitting prowess of Jose Abreu.
The White Sox aren’t a great team right now, and the pitchers they’re throwing at the Reds certainly lends to a high probability of winning the series. If the Reds can manage that and get back home with a winning roadtrip, all will be good in the world again. (Sort of…Homer Bailey is still out and Devin Mesoraco likely won’t catch this season, but you know what I mean.)