Sunday, May 27, 2012

Reds vs. Pirates series preview

The Reds look to keep things rollin’ as they leave the friendly confines of GABP and make the trip to Pittsburgh for the second time this month. They hope for similar results as when the Redlegs took two of three from the Buccos in their first visit to PNC Park. The pitching match-ups after the break….

Monday, 1:35
Bronson Arroyo (2-2, 3.22) vs. James McDonald (3-2, 2.51)

The first game of the series on Memorial Day will have a fittingly strong pitching matchup between a pair of pitchers who both deserve more wins than they have to their records. Arroyo picked up another no-decision in his last time out vs. Atlanta with 6.2 innings of one-run ball, only allowing a solo homer. He’s now allowed three or fewer runs in six of his nine starts. The former Pirate is 6-6 lifetime against his old team in 14 starts and has a 3.65 ERA against the Buccos.

McDonald, a former top prospect in the Dodgers organization, has put things together this year after showing glimpses of promise in the past. He’s become a strikeout artist – 58 punch outs in 57.1 innings – and he’s cut down on the walks which have plagued him in the past (0.99 WHIP). Seven of his nine starts have been quality, allowing two runs or fewer six times, including 6.1 innings of one-run ball in a 3-2 win over the Reds on May 5. Jay Bruce (.400, 1 home run, two RBI) and Brandon Phillips (.462) are the only Reds to experience success against McDonald.

Tuesday, 7:05
Homer Bailey (3-3, 4.19) vs. Charlie Morton (2-5, 4.27)

This might just be surprising to me because of my personal distrust of Bailey, but I was very surprised to see that seven of Bailey’s nine starts have been quality this year. Several of those are right on the edge of the QS qualification as he’s only worked past the sixth three times, but take out two clunkers (six runs in 3.2 innings at Milwaukee on May 8 and four runs vs. St. Louis on April 9) and Homer has been solid. He’s been especially successful against the Pirates (5-0, 1.94) in seven career starts.

The last time Morton faced the Reds, he was on the wrong side of Mat Latos’ 11-strikeout gem at PNC Park. He’s 4-5 lifetime against the Redlegs and Drew Stubbs (.333), Brandon Phillips (.348), Ryan Ludwick (.500) and Chris Heisey (2-for-3) all have success against him. In fact, he hasn’t really owned any current Red except for Ryan Hanigan (0-for-10) and Joey Votto has struggled as well (.238 in 21 at-bats).

Wednesday, 7:05
Johnny Cueto (5-2, 2.53) vs. A.J. Burnett (3-2, 4.19)

After a rough outing against Colorado (4.2 innings, five runs) last Friday, a trip to Pittsburgh is just what the doctor ordered. He’s racked up 16 (!) starts against the Pirates already and has mastered them – he’s 11-3 with a 2.55 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in 99 career innings against the divisional rivals.

Burnett, on the other hand, is just 2-3, 5.45 in seven starts vs. the Reds, though it has been awhile since he’s faced them. In his return to the NL, Burnett has been very good – don’t let the mediocre ERA fool you. Most of that damage came in a horrific, 12 earned run outing in 2.2 innings at St. Louis on May 8. What he did to Clint Hurdle to deserve that, I’m not sure. Anyway, he hasn’t allowed more than two earned in any of his six other starts. No current Red has more than four career at-bats against him, so it could be anyone’s guess as to how the Reds will stack up vs. the former Yankee.

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