PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS AND SCOUTING REPORTS

Courtesy of MLB.com

Friday at 1:20pm CT – Homer Bailey vs. Chris Volstad

Despite running his pitch count quite high in the early innings, and throwing 110 pitches over six innings, Bailey had a quality start vs. Washington on Saturday, but he had the misfortune of being opposite Edwin Jackson’s two-hitter. Volstad took the loss in his last start, against the Cardinals, giving up four runs in one inning. He’s 1-2 with a 4.34 ERA in three career starts against the Reds. He’s looking for his first win since July 10.

Saturday at 12:05pm CT – Mike Leake vs. Paul Maholm

Leake had a 5-0 lead early, but he saw it evaporate Sunday when the Nationals chipped way. He felt like he made mistakes that were hit, but he also found some of his better pitches also get hit. Maholm has given up six runs on six hits over four innings in each of his starts for the Cubs. That’s not exactly the type of consistency the Cubs are seeking. Maholm is 6-4 with a 3.81 ERA in his career vs. the Reds.

Sunday at 1:20pm CT – Johnny Cueto vs. Ryan Dempster

Cueto danced with danger against the Cardinals Tuesday as runners were in scoring position in each of the first four innings. But he only allowed one run as he slowed his tempo and became more effective over his final three innings. Last April, Dempster had a 9.58 ERA in six starts. In three starts this season, he’s done much better (1.33 ERA) but is still looking for that first “W.” In fact, he hasn’t won a game since Aug. 11, 2011. That was 12 starts ago.

NOTES FROM THE ENEMY

Courtesy of Greg Dafler from Redleg Nation

Reds fans have high expectations for a team that made substantial additions to their pitching staff in the offseason. It has been extremely frustrating to watch the Reds struggle to score runs on a regular basis in the first two weeks of the season. The Reds led the National League in scoring in 2010 and scored the second most runs last year, but have scored exactly one run six times in their first 13 games.

The Offensive Offense

Heading into play Thursday, rookie shortstop Zack Cozart (.318 AVG/.910 OPS) led the team in AVG, SLG, OPS, runs, hits, and extra base hits. Outside of Cozart and Joey Votto (.293 AVG/.873 OPS), no one else on the team has been hitting. Four regulars were sporting an OPS under .500. Prior to his 2-for-5 performance on Thursday, Brandon Phillips was 2 for 14 since returning from a hamstring injury that cost him five starts. Phillips was quoted this week, saying that he is playing at about 60%. Scott Rolen has hit worse than the bench full of replacement players who subbed for him last year, and he’s been needing a day of rest once every three games.

The Pitching is Improved

With a couple of exceptions, the pitching has been a bright spot for the Reds this year. Bronson Arroyo (2.91 ERA, 0.88 WHIP in three starts) has looked much better than he did in his disastrous 2011 campaign.

Aroldis Chapman has dialed back his fastball velocity to just under 100 mph in an attempt to establish better control.  So far, the results have been great. He is yet to issue a walk in eight innings while striking out 15 of the 27 batters he’s faced. Fans are itching to see Chapman moved to the starting rotation. In the upcoming Cubs series, he’ll likely work two innings at most.

Reds Scheduled Starters

Friday: Homer Bailey had an atrocious start to the season. He gave up 4 runs on three homeruns in the first inning of his April 7th start against the Cardinals. Since the first inning of his first game, he’s allowed just 9 hits (no homeruns) and 3 runs over 10.2 innings. Bailey had some control problems in his second start of the year and is still prone to coughing up one big inning per outing.

Saturday: Mike Leake is not off to a great start this year either, but a trip to Wrigley could turn his season around. Leake has made more starts against the Cubs than any other club he’s faced. In seven starts against Chicago, he has a 2.66 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP. In his 3 starts at Wrigley Field, he has held Cubs hitters to a .221 batting average and issued just 4 walks over 21 innings while striking out 16.

Sunday: Johnny Cueto has been as good as he was last year. After throwing seven shutout innings against Miami on Opening Day, Cueto has made two starts against the Cardinals, allowing four runs in 12 innings.

Let There Be Light

The Reds are 5-2 in afternoon games and 0-6 in night games.

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