Thursday, September 6, 2012

Reds using arms to surge into October

Latos gives the Reds a solid 1-2 punch with
Johnny Cueto anchoring the rotation

Paul Swydan of ESPN Insider and FanGraphs recently highlighted four teams "surging toward the playoffs". One of those teams featured in his column included the NL-Central leading Redlegs, who currently enjoy the largest division lead in Major League Baseball. Here is what Swydan had to say specifically regarding Cincinnati:

In Cincinnati, the bullpen -- on paper -- is even more menacing, which like Texas has improved its relief pitcher FIP rank by 22 spots this year. Cincy's 'pen is more top heavy, though, as Aroldis Chapman's 3.5 WAR entering Sunday was tied for 17th among all pitchers with Cliff Lee and Matt Cain. That's not to discount the contributions of the other members of the 'pen, particularly left-hander Sean Marshall, but it's notable how well Chapman has pitched.

Also notable is how the starting rotation has improved. Last season, Reds starters turned in a 4.55 FIP that ranked next to last in baseball. This season, thanks to a big bounce-back year from Bronson Arroyo and both improved play and health from Johnny Cueto, the Reds' starters' FIP clocks in more than a half-run lower at 3.96. In fact, health has had a lot to do with their improvement all year, as their five starters -- Cueto, Arroyo, Mat Latos, Homer Bailey and Mike Leake -- have accounted for all but one start this season, and they needed only one extra start because of a doubleheader. The Reds already placed in the game's top half from both a fielding and hitting perspective, but their improvement on the mound this season has really put them on the map.

Pitching has certainly played a pivotal role in helping the Reds get to where they are right now. They enter play on Tuesday boasting the second-best team ERA in the National League (3.44), trailing only the NL-East leading Washington Nationals (3.27).

Furthermore, they own the best bullpen ERA in Major League Baseball at 2.77. Reds pitchers have also recorded more complete games (8), saves (46), and wins (82), and a higher ERC% (104.00) and DIP% (108.00) than any other NL staff. The Cincinnati pitching staff also ranks second-best in the league in opponent OBP (.307), WHIP (1.24), and K/BB ratio (2.96). All in all, the Reds' chances of a sixth world championship in franchise history may boil down to the arms of its hurlers.

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