Carlos Zambrano vs. Homer Bailey
Zambrano is winless at home, going 4-0 on the road. He did not get a decision in his last start against the Cardinals. Big Z has pitched six or more innings in six of his eight starts, including his last three. Bailey has put together a pair of strong outings to start his season, most recently tossing seven shutout innings vs. the Astros. Bailey has allowed only one run in 13 innings and struck out 12 since returning from a right shoulder impingement.
Matt Garza vs. Edinson Volquez
Garza finally got a win at home as he held the Cardinals to one run over five innings in his last outing. He leads the NL in strikeouts per nine innings. He lost to the Reds on May 6 at Wrigley Field, giving up five runs on six hits. Volquez’s control continued to be an issue in his last start against Houston on Wednesday. He allowed three earned runs on three hits, but his pitch count had already hit 88 when he was pulled after four innings. He walked five.
Brian Erts scouts the Reds
Who’s Hot – No Red is hotter than Ramon Hernandez. The Reds catcher is hitting every fastball in the zone and hitting them hard, and far. In his last 25 AB, Ramon has compiled 21 TB with a slash line of .440./462/.840. For the season, Hernandez has compiled a 1.020 OPS and 52 total bases.
Another pleasant surprise the last couple of weeks has been the performance of some of the young guys. Homer Bailey has won his first two starts of the season (after beginning the year on the DL) with a 12/1 K/bb ratio. Johnny Cueto, who came off the DL at the same time) has matched that 2-0 record, and has yet to give up an earned run.
Who’s Not – Aroldis Chapman is in a major funk; in the past two weeks, he’s either lost his release point or is suddenly possessed by Mitch Williams. Since the first of May, Chapman has thrown 92 pitches and recorded only four outs in four appearances, walking 12 men. In Chapman’s last three appearances, he has completed 1/3rd of an inning and been charged with 8 earned runs on 9 walks and one hit.
Jonny Gomes has seen 541 pitches this season and taken 352 (65%). When Gomes swings, he has missed 55 (29%), fouled off 53 (28%), and put in play 81 (43%) of those pitches. Out of the 15% of pitches that Gomes has hit into fair territory, he’s collected five doubles, six homers, and ten singles. His current slash line is a miserable .186/.329/.389, about as bad as you can expect for a left fielder. Gomes’ BABIP is .208, so he has been unlucky, but still…. Tuesday, unfortunately, will be the one month anniversary of his last home run.
News / Notes – The offense received a boost this past week with the activation of Fred Lewis and the return of Scott Rolen. Both played large roles in the sweep against the Cardinals and Lewis’s presence lends the Reds another option in LF if Gomes finally is shuttled down the line by Dusty and crew.
With the Reds re-taking the Central division lead over the weekend and the team playing very well lately, it’s a good time to be a Reds fan.
Prediction for the series (Written before the pitching matchups were changed) – Monday night will see Matt Garza against Homer Bailey. Bailey is finally performing the way most Reds fans had hoped to see one day, and many will be watching intently to see if he can continue his current trend of being a strike-heavy pitcher on a team that sorely needs a pitcher to limit the free passes.
The second game has the chance to be a long one, as both pitchers have issues finding the zone. Coleman’s wildness rivals Volquez, with a 20/18 k/bb, but he comes by it naturally, as his grandfather Joe pitched for the A’s in the late 40′s. During that walk-heavy era, he once had a K/BB of 109/127. Edison still has more strikeouts than walks, but as with Chapman (of late), he has issues with limiting runners. This game could take a while if both guys have issues with the strike zone.
It’s a short series and the Reds are on a high; they can take both games if current trends continue and Volquez turns in a cleaner start than we have been accustomed to.
Brian is a contributing editor at Redleg Nation, part of the ESPN SweetSpot Network