Series Preview: Reds (37-37) at Cubs (31-42)

In Series Previews by berselius

They’re still playing baseball? I’m still coming down from last night’s World Cup game. How did the end of the game play out?

h/t to GBTS, who I blatantly stole this from.

The Cubs have shown signs of life since I last checked in, somehow pulling off a .500 road trip, going 10-4 against not-the-Pirates, while dropping 5 of 7 to the Pirates. Luis Valbuena has figured out how to hit a BABIP above .260 to go with his usual excellent walk rate, Castro and Rizzo continue to roar back from their disappointing 2013 seasons, the bullpen is performing well, the Cubs top draft pick is hitting the cover off the ball, and the Cubs top two prospects are playing together just a step away from the majors. I’ll just pretend that this year’s OF never existed.

Team Overviews

NL ranks listed for both team


  • wRC+: 89 (10th)
  • BSR: 1.5 (6th)
  • SP FIP-: 104 (8th)
  • RP FIP-: 108 (15th)
  • UZR: 20.4 (3rd)
  • DRS: 34 (2nd)
  • Run differential: +4 (6th)


  • wRC+: 81 (14th)
  • BSR: 0.9 (9th)
  • SP FIP-: 86 (1st)
  • RP FIP-: 91 (6th)
  • UZR: -1.0 (8th)
  • DRS: -9 (14th)
  • Run differential: -9 (10th)

The Reds had one of the best bullpens of the past several years, but it hasn’t worked out so well for them this year. Chapman has been great since his return from being hit in the face, striking out two batters an inning on average, but the rest of the pen has had many issues. They lead the NL by a large margin in BB/9, and the Chapman’s ludicrous strikeout numbers are covering up struggles from the rest of the pen. It certainly doesn’t help that Sean Marshall is headed for a shoulder debridement either.

Somehow the Cubs have dodged Johnny Cueto yet again.

Pitching Probables

ERA, xFIP, projected FIP listed for each pitcher.

Monday: Alfredo Simon, RHP (3.05, 4.09, 4.23) vs Jeff Samardzija, RHP (2.60, 3.19, 3.33), 7:05 PM CT

Simon has been the big surprise for the Reds this year, posting an ERA around 3 after two years in the pen. He’s not striking that many out (5.58 per 9), but doesn’t allow a lot of walks or hits either. It’s safe to say that this year’s performance can mostly be explained by BABIP (.243) and sequencing (82.6%), and it’s not like he’s a fly ball pitcher. He’s got ten wins though, so I guess he’s got that going for him. I’m sure Jeff Samardzija is real happy to see that on the scoreboard.

Shark has looked rockier over the past few weeks, but shut out the Marlins for six innings with eight strikeouts in his last start. The bigger news is the continued swirl of trade and extension rumors. The Cubs reportedly put out a deal that was around 5/85 that was rejected by Samardzija. Thanks, Reds! That’s probably as high as they *should* go, and Shark is right in thinking he could probably get more in a year and change. I still wouldn’t mind the Cubs opening up the checkbook a bit more, even with Arrieta’s seeming emergence, since they’re only going to hit on so many Jason Hammel types.

Tuesday: Homer Bailey, RHP (4.68, 3.44, 3.76) vs Jake Arrieta, RHP (1.98, 2.66, 4.18), 7:05 PM CT

Of course, Bailey is the easy example to point to when arguing why the Cubs shouldn’t go higher than what they offered. But it’s a lazy argument, as Bailey’s peripherals are right in line with last year’s, he’s just had more balls drop in (and over the wall) than probably should have. Everyone can suddenly hit his plus fastball this year for some reason.

I’m definitely getting a little excited about Arrieta (TRANSFORMED!!!11!), but am tempering it a bit after looking at his 2012 numbers. He made 18 starts (24 appearances) with the O’s and posted a 8.56 K/9 and 2.75 BB/9, not far off from this year’s numbers, but was his usual inefficient, walk-prone self in his other three big league seasons. If he’s truly Transformed though, LOLORIOLES.

Wednesday: Mat Latos, RHP (3.86, 4.27, 3.42) vs Edwin Jackson, RHP (5.12, 3.65, 3.77), 6:05 PM CT

Latos has only made two starts this year, as he’s been dealing with an injury since spring training. IIRC Kris Bryant hit a HR off him in April that led to him being shut down for a few weeks. Is there anything he can’t do? His K rate is down so far but he’s still his usual walk-stingy self. I don’t expect him to go that deep into this game.

Too much ink has been spilled this season about Edwin Jackson’s numbers, so I won’t. They’re frustrating every way you look at them. Maybe he can set a record for the biggest ERA-FIP split in recent history.

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