Brewers vs. Reds Series Preview with Blog Red Machine’s Tyler Grote
Yeah, yeah, yeah, the Brewers-Reds series started Monday night and I apologize for being behind on this post. At least I have a viable excuse for this being a few hours late: school, practice, and straight to Miller Park to catch a torturous 6-1 loss.
The game was, in many facets, a picturesque representation of the Brewers season. Ryan Braun provided the only offense as Milwaukee jumped out to another early lead just to see the pitching blow the lead. The team failed yet again to produce with runners in scoring position and the game remained out of reach.
Tyler Grote (He does The Twitter! @grotet) from our friends over at Blog Red Machine, however, must have b
een joyed by the game Monday night. He assumed the customary role of previewing the upcoming series from the opponent’s point of view.
Reviewing the Brew: Though the Brewers don’t face him in this series, Mat Latos pitched a great game on Sunday in a shutout win over the Pirates. We’ll see him down the road sometime this season, so do you think he’s finding his groove, so to speak?
Blog Red Machine: If you check his numbers, you’ll notice Latos has traditionally been horrendous in the month of April for his entire career. For the months of March/April, Latos is 2-8 with an ERA of 5.73. His ERA is under four for every other month. Fans in Cincinnati were a little skeptical initially, but it looks like he’s simply playing to the tune of the back of his baseball card.
RtB: Offensively, what’s the key to Cincinnati’s success?
BRM: The success of the Reds begins and ends with #19. Joey Votto is the catalyst. When the Reds are struggling offensively, it will mainly be because of the inability of guys in front of Joey (Cozart, Stubbs) to get on, or, the guys behind Joey (Phillips, Rolen) fail to make teams pay for walking him. Joey Votto leads all of baseball with 26 walks – the next closest guy has 21. Teams know who to test on this Reds team – it’s not Joey. Jay Bruce has come into his own of late as wekk – he’s tied for third in baseball with eight homeruns while batting a cool .300. Reds fans are dying to see this kid hit 4 behind Votto, but Baker is incredibly hesitant to bat two lefties back to back.
RtB: How has the bullpen adapted to the loss of would-be closer Ryan Madson for the season?
BRM: Sean Marshall has made the loss of Madson a little easier to cope with. He’s got 5 saves in 6 attempts. But in all honesty, Marshall is not a closer. The last two years with the Cubs, he posted a lethal ERA under 3 as a set-up specialty man. Ideally, that’s what he’d be doing here. The Reds’ bullpen, in general, is trying to stay afloat while dealing with lingering injuries to late-inning relief guys like Nick Masset and Bill Bray. These injuries are also the reason you’re still seeing Aroldis Chapman putting in set-up work. The assumed consensus is that he’ll enter to rotation when the bullpen is back to health.
RtB: Brewers fans are slowly watching their team lose ground in the NL Central. What are the hopes right now for the Reds to catch St. Louis?
BRM: I’m not sure about the Brewers, but I know for a fact the Reds play a combined 54 games against the Astros, Cubs and Pirates combined. These are games where teams like the Reds, Brewers – teams that plan to contend, have to really make hay. The Reds went 9-6 against the Cardinals last year, but 2011 still turned out better in St. Louis. Games against the Birds are somewhat important, but not nearly important as collecting the massive amount of Ws in the NL Central that you’re supposed to. Clean up against these guys, you stay in the hunt.
RtB: Looking at the probables for the series, which matchup intrigues you most?
BRM: I like Cueto and Greinke. Cueto has been phenomenal to start 2012 and he’s really establishing himself as one of the premiere aces in baseball. Cueto boasts the 3rd best ERA in baseball right now, and Greinke has seen a bit of success against the Reds. This could be one of the quicker games we see.
RtB: Johnny Cueto (4-0, 1.31 ERA) has been nearly unhittable for the Redlegs thus far. What do the Brewers have to do to get runs off of him, especially with a stagnant offense.
BRM: Getting to Cueto early in incredibly essential. The Pirates has an opportunity to get to Cueto early in the game – when he works out of jams and hits cruise control, he’s virtually untouchable. One thing that’s important to note – Cueto is not a strike out artist. He not only allows, but he wants batters to hit his pitches – they usually go for outs due to Cueto’s exceptional ability to disguise his release point. He does so by hiding the ball by showing his back to the batter before delivery. With the exception of opening day, he’s allowed five or more hits every outing, including seven allowed to the Pirates.
The Brewers will definitely have their shots at Cueto – it’s simply about making them count. There won’t be many.
RtB: As a Reds fan, which Milwaukee hitter not named Ryan Braun scares you the most at the plate?
BRM: Any other year, I would have said Rickie Weeks with ease; however, he’s struggling mightily. Aramis Ramirez has never really been friendly to the Reds, regardless of the uniform he’s wearing. With the exception of Bronson Arroyo and Mike Leake, Aramis has nearly a .300 or better against every other Reds’ starter – including Cueto.
RtB: By the end of the series, which Reds player will I hate the most? Dat Dude BP? Votto?
BRM: When considering which Reds will bite you, it’s always safe to assume Joey Votto. Your pitchers will pitch around him, and when they don’t, he has a knack for making them pay. Brandon Phillips is still struggling as his mini-slump endures. He’s sitting at .215 with two home runs; however, he is hitting a cool .280 against Gallardo in 25 at bats, so it’s possible he could show up as early as tonight.
RtB: Thanks for your time!
BRM: Thanks for having me. We’re looking forward to a competitive series.