Tonight will mark the Milwaukee Brewers‘ (33-39) second series of the season with the Cincinnati Reds (39-32). We lost the previous series against the Reds back in May, only winning one game in that three game series. Since May, the Reds have continued be red hot while the Brewers’ struggles have not faded at all. This time the Reds will be heavily favored again, especially since this series takes place at the Great American Ball Park in Cincy. Tonight’s match-up will see the Brewers’ Yovani Gallardo (6-5, 4.22 ERA) against the Reds’ Mat Latos (5-2, 5.20 ERA). The Brewers have struggled all season with division games and this series isn’t any easier. The Reds have been in first or at least tied for first for a good portion of the season so this is a series they must win to fend off the surging Pittsburgh Pirates. On the other hand, the Brewers must win, if not sweep, this series in order to keep their hopes up for the rest of the 2012 season.
The Reds have been helped from their offense tremendously this season from efforts by Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips. Votto who is just the type of player that every manager wants, is once again proving that the NL MVP title may be in his grasp. On the year, Votto is batting .359 with 14 home runs, 47 RBIs and 47 runs scored. Defensively to help build an MVP case, Votto has only committed three errors this year and holds a fielding percentage of .995. So far this season, the Reds have done well against the Brewers, especially Phillips who is 6 for 12 with two doubles and has scored three runs. Bruce and Votto both have a .273 average against the Brew Crew.
For the Brewers, the series against the Reds was just a series they would like to forget about. Despite that, the Brewers have hit the Reds pretty well this season even though they lost two of the games so far. Ryan Braun is batting .583 against the Reds with two home runs, three RBIs and four runs scored. The injured Jonathan Lucroy was batting .417 with two RBIs and one run scored. One surprise is that Nyjer Morgan has also been successful against the Reds this season as well. Morgan is batting .375 with two runs scored and three hits in eight at-bats. Corey Hart and Rickie Weeks have yet to get a hit off of the Reds’ pitching.
Pitching wise, the Reds have struggled, however there has been a bright spot with the dominating performances by Johnny Cueto. On the year, Cueto is 9-3 with an ERA of 2.21 and 76 strikeouts which has been to the surprise of not only Dusty Baker, but the Reds in general. Cueto has faced the Brew Crew this year. In that game, Cueto got a no decision, but went seven innings striking out five, walking one and allowing five hits. Starting pitching outside of Cueto has been rough, as each Reds’ starter has an ERA well over 4.00 and a staggering WHIP to complement the high ERAs. Aroldis Chapman, while having some rough outings lately, has been able to find his command overall in the season and has actually accrued eight saves, only one behind Sean Marshall who leads the team with nine. The one pitcher the Brewers got to last time was Homer Bailey. Bailey only lasted 3.2 innings in his outing and would get the loss as he gave up six runs on six hits while walking three and striking out four.
The Brewers’ pitching against the Reds has not really been successful outside of Zack Greinke. In his outing against the Reds, Greinke would get a no-decision but went eight strong as he struck out 11 and only allowed two hits (which were his only base runners that game). The bullpen, especially John Axford, imploded in that series, but hey, what else is new? Tim Dillard, Kameron Loe and Manny Parra were successful, all pitching a total of three innings combined with zero earned runs, but lately that hasn’t been the case. Dillard has been having a hard time finding the zone, Parra has been giving up runs left and right and Loe is about the only relief pitcher the Brewers can rely on. Yovani Gallardo did fairly well against the Reds, going six innings while giving up two runs on four hits and striking out eight and picking up the win. Fortunately for us, Gallardo pitches the opener of this series and let’s hope he can keep up that consistency against the Reds. Other than that, it’s been the same story for the Brewers all season heading into this series. The Brewers have been losing games they should be winning and have just shot themselves in the foot too many times over with bad bullpen efforts and offensively leaving runners in scoring position.
What the Reds need to watch out for:
-Ryan Braun and the surging Aramis Ramirez
-Keeping the lead
What the Brewers need to watch out for:
-Joey Votto and Jay Bruce
-Being able to come back from a deficit
Tuesday’s match-up will feature the Brewers’ Marco Estrada (0-3, 4.50 ERA) against the Reds’ Bronson Arroyo (3-5, 4.19 ERA). Estrada will be making his first start since coming off of the disabled list and will temporarily take Shaun Marcum’s place in rotation as Marcum was placed on the DL Saturday with elbow soreness. Wednesday’s match-up will close out the series and will feature the Brewers’ Zack Greinke (8-2, 2.81 ERA) against the Reds’ Homer Bailey (5-5, 4.20 ERA). The Brewers had a lot of success against Bailey the first time, so maybe that will carry on into this game. After this game, these two will not meet until July 20, which is another series that will take place in Cincinnati. Until next time, go Brew Crew!