In honor of the holiest of all baseball days, I slaved tirelessly with Steve Engbloom, head writer of Blog Red Machine ,to put together a series preview for everyone. I would like to take this moment to thank Steve for working on this with me, I had a great time putting it together. We had so many ideas, but eventually we had to narrow them down just a little bit. In this article you will find a game-by-game pitching breakdown, “6 pack of Brew’s” interview with Steve, and finally a who’s Hot/Cold section. Our goal in putting together this super article was to give our reader’s a special opening day gift. I hope that you all enjoy the fruit of our exhausting labor. Happy Opening Day Brewskies and Brewskettes!!!!!!
2011 Opening Series Pitching Matchups (records are career vs. opponent)
Game 1: Yovani Gallardo (2-3, 5.56 ERA) v Edinson Volquez (3-1, 5.50 ERA)
Gallardo: The Reds have hit Gallardo pretty well over his career (.289/.388/.486). In fact, the Reds are one of three teams to hit 5 HR off him, the most he’s surrendered to any team (Pirates and Cardinals are the other two). Gallardo has posted a SO/BB ration under 2.00 to only three teams and the Reds (1.90) is one of those teams. The 26 walks Gallardohas issued to the Reds represents the most he’s allowed to any team.
Hits ‘Em: Scott Rolen (7-11, .636), Joey Votto (6 RBI)
Not So Much: Ramon Hernandez (1-8, .125)
Volquez: The Brewers have had some success against Volquez since coming to Cincinnati (.271/.364/.481). The Brewers have touched Volquez for 7 HR, most to any opponent. One issue that continues to rear its ugly head is control. While Voquez has struck out 35 Brewers in his career, he has also issued 18 BB.
Hits ‘Em: Ryan Braun (.333), Corey Hart (.308, 6 RBI)
Not So Much: Prince Fielder (.143)
Game 2:Shaun Marcum (NR) v Travis Wood (1-0, 3.97)
Marcum: Saturday’s game will be Marcum’s first time facing the Reds.
Wood: Tis will be only the third time Wood has faced Milwaukee. He has a ND to go along with his win from last season. Interesting note – The Reds have dropped the last five games Wood has started.
Game 3: Randy Wolf (10-3, 3.13) v Bronson Arroyo (9-7, 3.77)
Wolf:He’s almost on the level Roy Oswalt was in owning the Reds. The splits against him are fairly impressive (.235/.290/.370). His 10 wins against Cincy are the second most against any team in his career (12 v. Mets). Wolf’s career SO/BB ratio against the Reds is an astounding 4.30 (129/30), best against any team.
Hits ‘Em: Johnny Gomes (.625)
Not So Much: Scott Rolen (.083)
Arroyo: Arroyo has held moderate success against Milwaukee in his career. One thing we know is that Arroyo will surrender a dinger or two. The Brewers are no different hitting 19 against the righty (only Houston has hit more off him). He does have 91 career SO versus the Brewers, most against any team.
Hits ‘Em: Craig Counsell (.400), Prine Fielder (3 HR, 7 RBI)
Not So Much: Rickie Weeks (.120)
6 Pack of Brew’s
I asked Steve Engbloom 6 questions, which I thought would help us gain some perspective on the team we face this weekend. Steve also asked me 6 questions about the 2011 Brewers, if you would like to read that click here. Trust me, you want to read my answers to his questions. My Questions are highlighted in Blue (for the Brewers), while Steve’s answers will be highlighted in red (for the Reds).
L: Do you think that Joey Votto will retain his crown as NL MVP in 2011?
S: As much as Reds fans would love to see Votto repeat as the NL MVP, I’m not sure that’s in the cards for him. Even though the Reds offense took off after putting Scott Rolen as the cleanup hitter, I don’t think teams will be afraid to pitch around Votto to get to Rolen this season. He won’t see the pitches in 2011 like he did in 2010.
L: What is the weakest piece of the Reds 2011 puzzle?
S: There are two areas where the Reds could be considered weak: left field and closer. I’m leaning toward left field…slightly. Johnny Gomes can hit, but his overall defense isn’t quite what Reds fans are wanting. They love his style of play, just not his glove. Plus, I think Francisco Cordero could turn it around this season. He’s pitching for a job as the Reds hold an option for 2012.
L: This off-season the Reds went out and spent money to keep the guys they already had. Was that a popular move amongst the regenerated Reds fan-base?
S: The off-season transactions did go over pretty well. The one that had some fans puzzled was the Votto deal. It covered the remainder of his arbitration eligible years, but nothing beyond that.
L: Will Aroldis Chapman be able to maintain his super-human velocity for an entire MLB season?
S: Good question. If the Reds use Chapman similar to how they used the departed Arthur Rhodes, I think he can maintain his velocity. That being said, I don’t think we’ll see 103, 104 on a lot of occasions. Then again, that may be wishful thinking on my part.
L: What was your favorite Reds story form 2011 Spring Training?
S: The best story out of 2011 Spring Training has to be Dave Sappelt. There’s very little question there. He’s practically put his name on the roster for 2012 with an extraordinary spring. He’s already given the Reds brass much to think over if issues evolve in the outfield.
L: Do you think that the NL Central will come down to the Brewers and Reds? If so, what will separate the two at the end of September?
S: While most “experts” are taking either the Reds or the Brewers, I’m not sold on it. I still believe the Cardinals will have something to say about who wins the division even though they will be without Adam Wainwright. The Cubs could be lurking if any of the other previously mentioned teams go into a substantial slump. I believe the NL Central could provide the most exciting divisional race in all of baseball.
Who’s Hot, Who’s Not
Brandon Phillips– No surprise here. Over the past 5 seasons, Phillips has established himself as one of the best hitter’s in the game. Brandon comes out of spring camp with a solid .347 batting average. He knocked in 9 runs, hit 5 doubles, nabbed 25 total bases, and did not look to shabby in the field either. Phillips looks poised for a big opening weekend.
Edgar Renteria– This was a nice pick-up for the Reds. If you were on the fence bout him, his spring numbers probably knocked you off of that fence. Nothing wrong with batting .333, with a homer, and 6 RBI’s during spring camp on a new ball club. Renteria is a great player, who will benefit from having all of this talent around him. This is a very similar situation to what he was in last year with the Giants. He looks like a very solid piece to an already impressive lineup.
Francisco Cordero– Franky is money. No one is surprised by the fact that he only gave up 1 run in 8 innings of work during the month of March. We also should not be surprised that he struck out 11 of the 24 batters he faced during Spring Training. He is one of the best closers in the league today and he is looking to have another outstanding season.
*On a side note, I really like Travis Wood. I know his ERA was in the crapper the last few weeks, but he could be something very special.
Johnny Gomes– Now, I do not think there is any reason to be alarmed. Johnny had 10 hits this spring, in 50 AB’s. Now, 5 of those 10 hits were Home Run’s, which really boosts the spring slugging percentage. His bat seems to be a little slow through the zone, but once he gets back into game mode his numbers will spike in a northerly direction. Johnny did keep his strikeouts down this spring (6), which is a good sign (last year he struck out 123 times).
Scott Rolen– A .209 batting average is not something you want to see, but in this case it might not be such a bad thing. Last year his spring batting average was .220, and then he went on to hit .285 with 20HR’s and 83 RBI’s in the regular season. Rolen is a seasoned veteran, so there is no reason to fret. Scott starts the season 56 hits away from the 2,000 career hits plateau.
Mike Leake– Mike took some major lumps this spring. His opponents hit .379 against him collectively. The 7.29 ERA he posted was pretty rough too. Leake allowed 33 hits in only 21 innings of work. I could go on, but there is no point. Now Mr. Leake did have a superb outing in his final spring game, so he might be thawing out as we speak. He went 5.2 innings, giving up 1 run on 6 hits.
Rickie Weeks– Weeks was the hottest batter on Brewers roster this March. RW hit .442, 4 doubles, a triple, home run, and 4 RBI’s. He was on base 50% of the time in his spring appearances. Everyone in Brew City is hoping he can keep those wrists healthy. Rickie is always a risk for injuries, but when he can play he will get his fair share of hits.
Carlos Gomez– Carlos needed to have a good spring in order to make the roster, so when he hit 3 HR’s and knocked in 12 runs Chris Dickerson got traded. Gomez still has not mastered the art of taking a walk, but this spring he showed that he can get on base and provide a little extra power if necessary. We will see if his nice spring can morph into a great 2011 season.
Yovani Gallardo– The team ace was in top form during the Ides of March. Yo posted a 1.96 ERA in his 5 spring starts. In just 18 innings of work, he recorded 23 strikeouts. Even if Greinke had not had a “Shaq Attack”, Gallardo should have been the Opening Day starter. His confidence will be pretty high to start the season.
Craig Counsell– Craig Counsell is one of Milwaukee’s most beloved son’s. That is the only reason he made the team this season. Counsell did not record a hit until his 13thAB of the spring. Craig wrapped up the spring with a .214 batting average. If it was not for his folk hero status in the Brew city, Counsell could be looking for employment elsewhere.
Nyjer Morgan– A very late addition to the team make-up, his Cold ranking is due to state of mind more than play on the field. Having spent almost the entire spring playing with the Nationals, Nyjer now has to learn to fit in with a new team and in a new role. It has probably been a few years since he was coming in to games off of the bench. If he can leave the past in D.C. alone, he will be successful for the Brewers.
Randy Wolf– Randy Wolf wishes that he had the kind of spring that Mike Leake had. Wolf’s ERA was 8.74, he pitched in 6 games and racked up 22.2 innings. In that time he gave up 22 earned runs, 34 hits, 7 walks, and 4 HR’s. This was by far the worst spring campaign of his career. The last thing the Brewers need is another Jeff Suppan.
Happy Opening Day to everyone!!! I have waited for this day since I took over as head writer back in December. Hopefully you have all enjoyed the journey to get here as much as I have. Again, I need to thank Steve Engbloom for taking time out of his schedule to work on this project with me. It meant alot to me that another writer in the Fansided universe was so willing to undertake this with me. Please let me know what you think in the comments section. Make sure you check out Steve’s article at Blog Red Machine. Go Brewers Go!!!!