Tonight we start a 3 game series in Cincinnati against the Reds. The Reds are 37-33 good for 3rd, 2 games back from the Brewers in the NL Central. The NL Central has become a very competitive spot. The Brewers, Cardinals, Reds and Pirates are bunched 3 games apart. The Cubs and Astros, on the other hand are way back.
I sent off a few questions to jch24 (those hippy parents and their strange ways of naming kids) of Reds Reporter, SB Nation's Cincinnati Reds' blog and he was nice enough to send some answers:
How is Scott Rolen doing? Do Reds fans love him as much as we did?
Scotty is getting old but when he's right he's still a force in the lineup. The problem is that he fell off a cliff power-wise in the second half of last year and hasn't come back around yet. The fans took to him immediately of course, the saying goes, "these are Scott Rolen's Reds". He's an invaluable presence in the clubhouse as well but I'm not real happy with him being the everyday 3B next year at 37 years old.
It looks like Joey Votto is having another great year? How should we pitch to him? I don't suppose you'd give him to us, he is a Toronto boy after all?
Honestly? You probably shouldn't. Joey isn't seeing a lot of pitches to hit this year due to not having a true threat in the lineup behind him which is why he's leading the league in walks. It feels very much like the other team is willing to let someone else beat them at all costs, like a mini version of 2004 Barry Bonds. Why pitch to him if you don't have to? This has been remedied somewhat by Dusty abandoning The Book and batting Joey and Jay Bruce back to back. As far as the other question goes you can have Joey Votto when you pry him from my cold dead fingers, or offer a package that includes the CN Tower.
Can you give us a quick scouting report on the starting pitchers going up against the Jays this weekend?
Friday, Mike Leake - A personal favorite of mine, Leake is the wunkind 1st rounder that jumped straight to the majors last year and jumped straight to a jail cell this spring over a "misunderstanding" involving crappy t-shirts. He's a pitcher not a thrower, and can frustrate opposing fans because he seems to continuously be in trouble before working out of it. Mike Leake's typical line looks like 6 IP, 8 H, 2 BB, 4 K. He relies on location and getting guys to chase "his pitches".
Saturday, Edinson Volquez - Million dollar arm, ten cent head. Edinson has the best pure stuff on the Red's staff (95mph fastball, great changeup) but struggles with concentration. Recently demoted due to attitude and concentration issues, he's looked great in his two starts since coming back up. He's a wild card, honestly.....I have no idea what to expect from him start to start.
Sunday, Bronson Arroyo - Bronson is the 10 year old t-shirt that you love and can't bring yourself to throw out. It smells funny and isn't as glamorous as some of your newer digs but it gets the job done and you're comfortable when you put it on. Having said that Sunday's matchup scares the hell out of me, considering what's happened the last two times Bronson faced the Jays. See here and here.
You also have former Jay Fred Lewis, what's he doing for you? Is he still as interesting to watch in the outfield?
What's Fred Lewis doing for us? Not a whole lot, honestly. LF has been a merry-go-round of sucktitude for the Reds this year and Super Flewis shares part of that blame. What confuses me the most about him as that he looks like an athletic guy but is slower than you would expect and isn't good at defense. Lewis's saving grace defensively is that he's not Jonny Gomes.
Who's your closer? Are you confident in him? How is Aroldis Chapman doing?
Francisco Cordero closes and our confidence in him wavers week to week. Like most closers when he's good he's really good, and when he's bad he's really bad. The Reds overpaid for him but if I told you that since that beginning of 2008 he has five less saves than Mariano Rivera would you believe me? Because it's true.
Chapman is a mess at this point, pitching in AA and trying to (unsuccessfully) find the strike zone. Opinions differ on what's wrong with him but I lean toward something in his mechanics being off with a lingering injury being a close second.
How is manager Dusty Baker doing? What do Reds' fans think of him?
Dusty has done a fine job in Cincinnati in my opinion but that doesn't stop the locals from grumbling/rioting over every misstep he makes. I guess we're just gun shy after seeing the likes of Bob Boone, Jerry Narron, and Dave Miley on the dugout step recently.
Anything else we should know about the Reds?
The Reds are a streaky team and look to be on the upswing after a miserable couple of weeks. The pitching is rounding into form and looking like the strength it was purported to be. Hopefully they can continue on that track and beat up on the AL East this week.