Manager: Bryan Price (4th season)
Last 10 games: 6-4
Who to watch: 1B Joey Votto (26 HR, 68 RBIs), SS Zach Cozart (.316/.394/.547), CF Billy Hamilton (38 stolen bases), RHP Raisel Iglesias (1.69 ERA, 16 saves)
Season series vs. Nationals: 1-2
July 14: LHP Gio Gonzalez vs. RHP Tim Adleman, 7:10 p.m., MASN2
July 15: RHP Max Scherzer vs. RHP Luis Castillo, 7:10 p.m., MASN2
July 16: RHP Tanner Roark vs. RHP Homer Bailey, 1:10 p.m., MASN2
July 17: RHP Stephen Strasburg vs. LHP Scott Feldman, 12:35 p.m., MASN
Inside the Reds:
In 2015, the Cincinnati Reds decided it was time to rebuild. The team’s first step in that process was making a deadline deal to send Johnny Cueto to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for prospects. Then, in the offseason they continued to unload their stars, exchanging Aroldis Chapman and Todd Frazier for even more prospects. This process continued into 2016 and 2017, with the Reds swapping Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips for more youngsters. Given this rebuilding process, it is hardly a surprise to learn the Reds record is 39-49 entering the second half.
It would be irresponsible to discuss the Reds offense without initially focusing on first baseman Joey Votto. Votto has always prided himself on having one of the best batting eyes in baseball and his career .425 on-base percentage, which is 12th in major league history, proves him out. Votto has led the league in on-base percentage five times in his career, however, he leads the National League in something else this year: slugging percentage. With a career-high percentage of .631, it’s no surprise that Votto also leads the league in home runs. Not since Votto’s 2010 MVP campaign has he been crushing the ball like he is right now. The second-most important person in Cincinnati’s lineup is Zack Cozart, fresh off of his first All-Star Game appearance. Cozart was quite deserving of his selection, as he leads all National League shortstops in both average (.316) and slugging percentage (.547). While Cozart’s breakout season has been a surprise, it pales in comparison to the unbelievable power surge being enjoy by second baseman Scooter Gennett. Among the batters with at least 180 plate appearances, only the Yankees’ Aaron Judge has hit for more power facing righties than Gennett, whose slugging percentage is .663. However, Gennett struggles to hit when he does not have the platoon advantage, batting only .209 and slugging .372 against southpaws. It is also hard to mention the Reds without discussing the best base-stealer in baseball, Billy Hamilton. Hamilton’s batting average and on-base percentage have both dropped off from last year, giving him less chances to flash his incredible wheels. However, that hasn’t stopped him from leading all of baseball in stolen bases with 38.
Friday’s starter, Tim Adleman, is in his second season in the big leagues. Despite this, he has not shown any signs of improvement from his rookie year. His ERA, WHIP and walks per nine innings are all higher than in 2016. Since the start of June, Adleman’s ERA sits at 4.50, recording a pair of quality starts in seven outings. Saturday the Nats will see Luis Castillo make the fifth start of his career. So far the rookie has been more than able to hold his own as a big leaguer. He has a very solid 3.13 ERA and has struck out 30 batters in 23 innings over his four starts. However, he does need to cut down on allowing the longball, already allowing five of them over his 23 innings in the majors. Veteran Homer Bailey, who is recovering from an injury to his right elbow, is making his fifth start of the season. His first two starts were downright awful, while his last two starts have been excellent. He allowed 14 earned runs in 4 2/3 innings to start his year and then settled down for two earned runs over 12 2/3 innings. It’s reasonable to assume Bailey’s ability is somewhere between the 27.00 ERA he put up in his first two starts and the 1.42 ERA of his last two starts, but it’s too early in this season to know where exactly his ERA will eventually wind up. The series ends on Monday with Scott Feldman. Feldman has been solid in his last four starts, holding a 2.88 ERA.
The Reds closer is, amusingly enough, someone the Nationals are said to pursuing in a trade: the right-handed Raisel Iglesias. Against right-handed batters, Iglesias is absolutely lights-out, as righties are batting just .099 against the 27-year-old Cuban. Iglesias has allowed exactly one home run against a righty this season. Against lefties, he is more pedestrian, as they bat .237 facing Iglesias. Cincinnati’s top setup man is Michael Lorenzen. A former first-round pick, Lorenzen possesses a solid 2.93 ERA with 15 holds to his name.