Series #2 Preview: Nationals at Reds

Coming off of a refreshing series sweep of the Marlins where they only allowed one run, the Nats head to Cincinnati to face a Reds team that just took two of three from the Angels, the lone loss coming in extra innings. Through those three games the Reds are hitting a measly .155 (27th in MLB) as a team, with a combined OPS of .565 (20th in MLB).  While this “trend” certainly cannot be expected to continue, getting to face the Reds while their bats are relatively cold can only bode well for the Nats.

The Reds went into the offseason as the statistically second
best team in baseball, finishing a game behind the Nats at 97-65. Also like the
Nats, the Reds suffered a gut wrenching defeat in the NLDS; going up two games
to none away, only to lose three straight at home and watch the eventual World
Series Champion Giants move on to the NLCS. As I’m sure you’re noticing a
trend, the Reds did one more thing similar to the Nats this offseason: they did
nothing to get worse and proceeded to get better by adding Shin-Soo Choo via
trade and Jonathan Broxton via free agency to an already deep bullpen that was
#2 in MLB in fWAR (6.3) in 2012 while throwing the second least amount of
innings.

Game 4: Friday, April 5, Great American BallPark 7:10pmDan Haren (0-0, -.– ERA) vs. Homer Bailey (0-0, -.– ERA)

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After averaging 5.4 fWAR yearly from 2007-2011 over the
course of 1,141.1 IP (average 228.1 IP/yr) a combination of lost velocity and
injury limited Dan Haren to only 30 starts, 176.2 IP and 1.89 fWAR, the lowest totals of
his career since he began pitching full time in the Majors in 2005. While he had a
rough Spring it doesn’t appear that the injuries are having any lingering
effect, which is a step in the right direction. Haren is 2-2 with a 4.28 ERA and 4.14 K:BB in 5 career starts vs the Reds. Current Reds have been held in
check by Haren, combining for a team .590 OPS over 64 PA’s. Choo has maintained a .786 OPS over 14 PA’s and Brandon Phillips
sports a 1.000 OPS over 12 PA’s, despite only hitting .250 without any walks. The most important number though is Joey Votto going 0-6 with
a walk for his career against Haren.

Current Reds vs. Dan Haren:

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Shin-Soo Choo 14 14 4 1 1 0 0 0 3 .286 .286 .500 .786
Brandon Phillips 12 12 3 0 0 2 4 0 4 .250 .250 .750 1.000
Jack Hannahan 12 11 3 2 0 0 2 1 4 .273 .333 .455 .788
Joey Votto 7 6 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000 .143 .000 .143
Cesar Izturis 7 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Jay Bruce 6 6 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 .333 .667
Xavier Paul 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Ryan Hanigan 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 64 62 12 3 1 2 6 2 16 .194 .219 .371 .590
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/4/2013.

Think about what I said about Dan Haren and his history, and
pretty much reverse it for Homer Bailey. He was a top prospect for the Reds
that had shown flashes of brilliance but never could put it together at the MLB
level and when he finally showed some promise in 2009 was then hampered by
injuries for the next two years. 2012 was a breakout season for Bailey as he
set career highs in IP (208), threw a no-hitter and was utterly dominant in his
one NLDS start, despite the Reds losing the game in extra innings. For the
Spring Bailey posted a 6.35 ERA with a 1.53 WHIP while maintaining a 5:1 K:BB.

In just over a games-worth of PA’s vs current Nationals, Bailey
has held the team to a combined .626 OPS. Jayson Werth has fared well, posting
a 1.262 OPS over 7 PA’s, as has Adam LaRoche with his .900 OPS over 4 PA’s. I’d
be remiss if I didn’t draw attention to the offensive powerhouse that is Zach
Duke and his numbers against Bailey. Yes, I know it’s 3 PA’s, but come on….it’s
ZACH DUKE. In the two starts in his career against the Nats, Bailey has gone 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA and a 2.375 WHIP while only lasting a combined 8.0 IP.

Current Nationals vs. Homer Bailey:

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Jayson Werth 7 6 2 0 0 1 1 1 3 .333 .429 .833 1.262
Adam LaRoche 5 4 1 1 0 0 2 1 2 .250 .400 .500 .900
Ian Desmond 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Zach Duke 3 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 .667 .667 .667 1.333
Ryan Zimmerman 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 .333 .667
Danny Espinosa 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 .000 .333 .000 .333
Denard Span 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Kurt Suzuki 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Chad Tracy 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 32 29 6 1 0 1 3 3 8 .207 .281 .345 .626
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/4/2013.

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Game 5: Saturday, April 6, Great American BallPark 1:10pmRoss Detwiler (0-0, -.– ERA) vs. Mike Leake (0-0, -.– ERA)

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2012 was very good to Ross Detwiler after his
return from closing the short-lived tour of the Chien-Ming Wang Experiment. He
went 6-3 with a 2.76 ERA and held opposing offenses to a .627 OPS from the All
Star Break through September 20…before his two horrific final starts of the
regular season brought those numbers back to Earth. In the NLDS he was the only
starter to truly get the job done, and was also the starter who had the largest
positive impact in the series (+.230 WPA). Including his WBC numbers, Ross had
a very good spring posting a 3.00 ERA and a 4.00 K:BB. Ross’ command of his curve
could have something to do with his recent success, and the way it looks has
Davey Johnson excited
.

Ross has gone 0-3 in four starts vs the Reds
with a 3.13 ERA but a 1.478 WHIP. Against current Reds Detwiler has held the
team to a .652 OPS with both Brandon Phillips and Ryan Hanigan posting .750
OPS’ in 12 and 8 PA’s respectively. The most interesting numbers once again
involve Joey Votto. Votto is 1-6 (.167) with a HR against Detwiler in 9 PA’s,
yet carries a 1.111 OPS against him.

Current Reds vs. Ross Detwiler:

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Brandon Phillips 12 12 4 1 0 0 3 0 1 .333 .333 .417 .750
Jay Bruce 11 8 0 0 0 0 0 3 4 .000 .273 .000 .273
Joey Votto 9 6 1 0 0 1 1 3 1 .167 .444 .667 1.111
Ryan Hanigan 8 8 3 0 0 0 2 0 2 .375 .375 .375 .750
Mike Leake 5 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Zack Cozart 3 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .667 .667 .667 1.333
Chris Heisey 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .500 .500 .500 1.000
Cesar Izturis 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 56 47 11 1 0 1 6 7 11 .234 .333 .319 .652
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/4/2013.

My placeholder for this section was “Mike
Leake steals things” and I won’t lie, I honestly thought about leaving it
as it was.

A former First-Round pick, 8th
overall, in 2009, Mike Leake was the first pitcher in that draft class to reach
the Majors as he made the Reds rotation out of Spring Training in 2010 at the
age of 22. Three mediocre years later has him in the rotation because Aroldis
Chapman made the wise decision to stick to the bullpen. Historically against
the Nats Leake holds a 3-2 record with a 5.13 ERA and a 1.350 WHIP.

Against current Nationals Leake has gotten hit
around, hard and often. Of the seven starters who have more than a games-worth
of PA’s (~4) against him, only one has an OPS of under .848; Danny Espinosa
with a .636 OPS. 

Current Nationals vs. Mike Leake:

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Ian Desmond 17 16 6 1 0 0 3 1 1 .375 .412 .438 .849
Jayson Werth 16 12 4 0 0 1 2 3 2 .333 .438 .583 1.021
Ryan Zimmerman 16 13 4 0 0 1 1 3 2 .308 .438 .538 .976
Danny Espinosa 11 11 2 0 0 1 2 0 3 .182 .182 .455 .636
Wilson Ramos 10 10 3 1 0 1 1 0 1 .300 .300 .700 1.000
Roger Bernadina 8 7 3 0 0 1 3 1 1 .429 .500 .857 1.357
Adam LaRoche 5 4 2 1 0 0 3 1 0 .500 .600 .750 1.350
Zach Duke 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Kurt Suzuki 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Ross Detwiler 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Bryce Harper 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 96 83 24 3 0 5 15 9 13 .289 .355 .506 .861
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/4/2013.

Game 6: Sunday, April 7, Great American BallPark 1:10pm, Stephen Strasburg (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Johnny Cueto (0-0, 1.29 ERA)

Strasburg is coming off of a 7 shutout inning
performance against the Marlins where he didn’t his best stuff; he fell behind
1-0 against 13 of the 23 batters he faced on Monday. While he only struck out
three, he got several quick outs including two consecutive 7-pitch innings and
had 10 AB’s that lasted two pitches or less. Strasburg was only at 80 pitches
when he was pulled after the 7th inning, an early indication that
Davey will treat him in a similar manner to how Jordan Zimmermann was last
year.

In his lone career start against the Reds in
2010 he picked up the win while last 5.2 IP and surrendering 3 runs on 7 hits
and a walk while striking out seven. Of the five Reds that Strasburg has faced
previously only Jay Bruce has multiple hits (2) and only Brandon Phillips has a
hit that went for extra bases (3B). 

Current Reds vs. Stephen Strasburg:

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Brandon Phillips 3 3 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 1.000 1.333
Jay Bruce 3 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .667 .667 .667 1.333
Joey Votto 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 .333 .667
Shin-Soo Choo 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000
Ryan Hanigan 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 16 16 4 0 1 0 0 0 6 .250 .250 .375 .625
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/4/2013.

Signed as an international free agent in 2004
and making his debut for the Reds in 2008, Johnny Cueto has gotten
progressively better with every year spent in the Majors. While 2011 was
statistically his best season, its beginning was delayed and ending cut short
by injuries, all of which left him six innings short of qualifying for the ERA
title. 2012 was a different story for Cueto, he managed to stay healthy, threw
217 innings racking up 19 wins, decreasing his walks to 2.0/9IP, increasing his
K:BB to 3.47 and finishing 4th in the NL Cy Young vote. Earlier this
week Cueto threw 7 innings of 3-hit ball, allowing 1 run while striking out 9.
He ended up not factoring into the decision as the Reds lost in the 13th
inning.

In seven career starts vs the Nats Cueto is 4-2
with a 3.92 ERA and a 1.282 WHIP. To this point he has made current Nationals
look pretty silly, holding the current roster to a combined .459 OPS. The lone
exception is Ryan Zimmerman who boasts a slashline of .364/.417/.636 against
Cueto.

Current Nationals vs. Johnny Cueto:

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Jayson Werth 19 17 4 0 0 0 0 1 2 .235 .316 .235 .551
Adam LaRoche 15 13 2 0 0 0 1 1 6 .154 .200 .154 .354
Ryan Zimmerman 12 11 4 0 0 1 2 1 2 .364 .417 .636 1.053
Ian Desmond 10 10 2 0 0 0 0 0 4 .200 .200 .200 .400
Danny Espinosa 6 6 1 0 0 0 1 0 3 .167 .167 .167 .333
Chad Tracy 5 3 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 .000 .400 .000 .400
Zach Duke 5 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000
Roger Bernadina 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000
Wilson Ramos 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .333 .667
Kurt Suzuki 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000 .333 .000 .333
Denard Span 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 91 83 15 0 0 1 4 6 23 .181 .242 .217 .459
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/4/2013.

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The biggest news to come in over the last few days has no tangible impact on the Major League club as it stands; that news being that Chris Young decided to re-sign with the Nats, bolstering the starting pitching depth, and sending Young to Syracuse for what looks to be a reasonable to significant part of the season. 

In “injury” news, Bryce Harper took an elbow to the face at home plate that looked like it hurt but knowing the mentality of this kid, and the fact that he played the rest of the game, I would be extremely surprised if he missed any playing time as a result. 

Henry Rodriguez made his season debut with a 2-run lead against the Marlins on Thursday and looked just fine; throwing a perfect inning and catching Giancarlo Stanton looking at a curve to end the inning. For HotRod’s sake, I hope there is an opportunity to get him into a game this weekend to help build on that performance. 


If you’re headed to Great American Ballpark and need tickets to the game, you can buy your Nationals Tickets here!