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Cincinnati Reds at Cleveland Indians series preview

Fresh off their best series of the year, the Tribe arrive home to battle in state interleague rival, the Cincinnati Reds.

Phillips and Votto lead the Reds into Progressive
Phillips and Votto lead the Reds into Progressive
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Finally, feeling some positive vibes, the Tribe open a home stand on their best streak of the season. The pitching has been very good in the past couple of weeks, the bullpen improved, the hitting looks to have regressed back to the mean somewhat and Yan Gomes might get activated this weekend.  First on the docket are the Cincinnati Reds in the renewal of the Buckeye Battle. The Indians haven't possessed the Buckeye Cup outright it since 2011 when they took five of six. They split in 2012 and 2013 with the Reds taking it back last year.

The Reds have struggled this year, and especially in the past week. They lost three of four at home to the Giants over the weekend and a two gamer in Kansas City. That puts them on a five game losing streak entering Progressive, and losers of nine of their last thirteen.

  • Friday's game is at 7:05 PM (Leake vs. Carrasco)
  • Saturday's game is at 4:05 PM (DeSclafani vs. Kluber)
  • Sunday's game is at 1:05 PM (Cueto vs. Bauer)

After the Reds leave on Sunday, the Indians welcome the Rangers for their only visit in 2015. Then the Indians head west to play four in Seattle and land in Kansas City for three before coming home again.

Division Watch: Cardinals at Royals, Astros at Tigers, Twins at White Sox.

Team in a Box

Cincinnati Reds

Offense

NL Rank

Pitching

NL Rank

2015 Record

18-22

Runs/Game

3.9

10th

Runs/Game

4.5

11th

NL Central

T-3rd

OBP

311

8th

H/9

8.5

7th

Last 10

3-7

SLG

391

7th

BB/9

3.1

9th

Last 30

13-17

Steals

43

1st

SO/9

7.2

10th

The Reds have a slightly better record than the Tribe, but their overall stats are slightly worse. They score at a lower clip and have a worse OBP. That is due to the almost automatic out of course. Pulling out the pitching stats, and they are slightly better. The one area of excellence they do have is stealing bases. They have 43 already, with Hamilton at 17, with Frazier, Phillips and Votto(!) with five or more each. Come back soon Yan!!

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The rotation is mostly revamped with all of the offseason trades with Cueto still the main guy and he has been pretty decent. But the rest of the rotation has been league average or worse so far. The pen has three solid guys and then a whole lot of meh. The Reds do excel with the glove though.

Projected Roster

Pos

Player

Bats

PA

BA

OPS

wRC+

C

Brayan Pena

S

104

322

765

114

1B

Joey Votto

L

168

285

866

137

2B

Brandon Phillips

R

146

312

728

101

3B

Todd Frazier

R

170

252

898

143

SS

Zack Cosart

R

144

287

839

127

LF

Marlon Byrd

R

152

207

713

92

CF

Billy Hamilton

S

161

214

592

60

RF

Jay Bruce

L

152

195

680

83

DH

Devin Mesoraco

R

51

178

519

47

IF

Kristopher Negron

R

63

115

385

23

OF

Skip Schumaker

L

41

250

643

72

C

Tucker Barnhart

S

33

276

816

112

OF

Brennan Boesch

L

33

133

379

7

Votto is doing his thing of course, but not quite as elite as in the past. The offense has been buoyed by Frazier and Cosart this year as Mesoraco has struggled with a bad hip. Phillips has also struggled a bit from his previous career norms. And while Hamilton may be fast and steal a lot bases, as a whole, the outfield is a pretty large hole offensively. The bench is no real help either.

Historically, Votto has feasted on Tribe pitching to a 291/378/632 clip with 11 homers. Phillips has lived off his hatred of Eric Wedge for a long time now, hitting 350/385/548 with nine homers of his own. Frazier has struggled in his 13 games, 517 OPS while Bruce has a 694 OPS in 34 games. Veteran Byrd has amassed 27 games in his many MLB stops against Cleveland with a very successful 337/400/589 line.

Projected Staff

Player

Throws

ERA

FIP

IP

WHIP

K/9

Johnny Cueto

R

3.03

3.33

65.1

0.96

8.3

Mike Leake

R

3.62

4.89

54.2

1.10

4.9

Anthony DeSclafani

R

3.80

4.24

45.0

1.31

6.8

Jason Marquis

R

6.91

5.24

41.2

1.58

7.1

Michael Lorenzen

R

3.79

6.44

19.0

1.68

5.2

Aroldis Chapman

L

1.04

1.34

17.1

1.21

15.1

J.J. Hoover

R

2.65

3.19

17.0

1.00

6.9

Jumbo Diaz

R

6.46

5.41

15.1

1.04

9.4

Tony Cingrani

L

2.93

3.19

15.1

1.30

9.4

Burke Badenhop

R

9.22

4.67

13.2

1.76

4.6

Raisel Iglesius

R

3.94

2.88

16.0

1.25

6.2

Ryan Mattheus

R

5.40

2.83

3.1

1.20

5.4

Leake had three superb starts against the Braves, Pirates and Braves again where he yielded just one run over 22 innings, but the Giants pummeled him last time out for nine runs in five innings. He has four starts against the Tribe and is 1-0 with a 3.28 ERA, 1.095 WHIP and 9.1 K/9 with his last start in 2013. DeSclafani was the bounty from the Marlins for Mat Latos this offseason. In May this year, he has a 7.58 ERA in 19 innings, 2.05 WHIP and 6.2 K/9. This will be his Indian debut. Cueto, the longtime Reds ace has been mediocre in May, 4.45 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 7.0 K/9. Lifetime, he is 4-0 in six tribe starts, with a 2.08 ERA in 43.1 innings, 0.95 WHIP and 7.1 K/9.

Most of the pen has little experience against the Indians. Hoover has 4.1 innings, Diaz has 0.1 inning, Iglesius just debuted this year, and Cingrrani and Mattheus have never faced the Tribe either. Badenhop does have 8 appearances covering 7.1 innings from 2012 and 2014 when he was with the Rays and Red Sox respectively. Chapman, the fireball lefty, has just five appearances covering 4.1 innings. The Tribe hit two homers off him in 2012 to spike his ERA to 6.23.

On the Shelf

  • SP Homer Bailey [60 day DL], out for season
  • CF Jason Bourgeois [60 day DL], possible late May return
  • RP Sean Marshall [60 day DL], out for season
  • RP Manny Parra [15 day DL], possible late May return, on AAA rehab
  • C Devin Mesoraco [day to day], limited to DH/PH with left hip impingement

Almanac

W

L

Pct

RS

RA

Pythag

2015

-

-

-

-

-

-

2014

1

3

250

12

22

248

Last 5*

13

13

500

117

127

463

Last 10*

26

30

464

258

261

495

All-Time

35

36

493

347

323

533

Prediction: The Tribe arrives home with the pitching finally trending back towards their late 2014 dominance. There isn't a lefty in the rotation, and the Tribe bats have picked it up somewhat. I'd love to call for a sweep, but I just can't quite do it, yet. I say they win another series, 2-1.