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Opposites Collide : Big Red Machine Preview

Jay did this 12 times in May.
Jay did this 12 times in May.

Dodgers lost the 2010 Series five games to four even though the Dodgers outscored them 58 - 47

Manager:  Dusty Baker ( 29 - 28) 3rd Place / Historically  (1434 - 1312)

Current: Unlike the Dodgers, the Reds are all about offense: they are not the best offensive team in the NL but they are in the top three. They do it with two monsters - Joey Votto, the best hitter in the NL, and Jay Bruce the hottest hitter in baseball - one very good piece in Brandon Phillips, an excellent catching platoon of Hernandez/Hanigan, and a plethora of average hitters in Rolen, Stubbs, and Gomes. The only sinkhole is SS where Janish and Renteria provide Castro-like offense. Also unlike the Dodgers. the Reds are a patchwork rotation. They got Homer Bailey back for a few weeks, but he went back on the DL and will miss this series. Sam LeClure might have replaced Bailey but he also hit the DL. The opening day starter, Edinson Volquez, is back in the minor leagues trying to figure out his game. The stats bear this out, the Reds are 16th in the month of May in overall pitching, 16th in May for starters, 16th in May for relievers. There are 16 teams. Pitching is a problem.

Key Additions: Edgar Renteria

Key Subtractions: None

Key Injuries: Homer Bailey, Sam LeClure, Matt Maloney, Chapman, Burton

1st Base:  I believe Maddz asked early this year, how long before someone declares Votto the best hitter in the NL?  Maybe that time has come. He is easily the best hitting first baseman in baseball, his wRC is 171. Maybe Ryan Braun has an argument, maybe Pujols will once again weigh in, but my vote goes to Votto right now. Presence.

2nd Base: Brandon Philips is having his best year, he is kind of like Orlando Hudson when Orlando Hudson was good. Not as good as his reputation but still a very productive second baseman.  

Shortstop: Sinkhole of Paul Janish and Edgar Renteria. 

3rd Base: Scott Rolen in 2010 was mostly injury free and put up his best year since 2006. 2011 he's been hurt and his production has dropped considerably. He's picked it up a bit in May, so maybe he's starting to hit his stride. The last thing this potent offense needs is for Scott Rolen to hit his stride.

Catcher: I love catching platoons and the Reds have one of the best going but it has nothing to do with R/L splits. Ramon Hernandez is beasting whenever he plays, to the tune of of a .896 OPS. He has garnered 126 plate appearances while his mate, Ryan Hanigan has garnered 123. Hanigan did almost all of his hitting during the first two weeks of the season. They are both right handed, I have no idea what decision goes into who will catch.

Right Fielder: Last week we saw the second best young right fielder in the NL. This week we see the best and hottest. Jay Bruce just finished a historical May in which he went .342/.402/.739, producing 33 runs batted in. Hopefully Bruce has got all of that out of his system. If he hits a home run off of Kershaw, we will know he's on his way to giving Votto a run for a MVP. 

Center Fielder: I remember when Drew Stubbs was drafted, speedy CF, who had some power and struck out a lot. Not many were impressed with him. Guess they were wrong, he's turned into a solid major league center fielder doing all of those things while also providing some of the best defensive work in the NL. He's fun to watch.

Left Fielder: Johnny Gomes lost the full time gig, now he's shares time with Chris Heisey and Fred Lewis. Heisey has been the best of the lot. 

Bench: I think I've mentioned everyone but Cairo.

Game One Stater: Bronson Arroyo is one of the few pitchers who does not throw harder then 87 MPH but has had success. He is an innings eater, who is having some bad luck in 2011. His TSL is 5.74/5.32/4.11 so you can see with the xFIP he is having home run trouble. 14 long balls in 62 innings. Yowza. 

Game Two Starter: Johnny Cuerto, on the other hand, would appear to be having a great season with his 2.20 ERA. Yet his full TSL is 2.20/ 3.71 / 4.08 so he's not as great as he looks on the surface. He's coming off a solid eight inning performance against the Braves. He only joined the Reds rotation in May after spending April on the DL. 

Game Three Starter: Travis Wood is left handed, has made every start, and his TSL of 5.05/ 3.94 / 3.96 also shows he's been a victim of some bad luck.  Wood was awful in April, but in his six starts in May he never gave up more then four runs:)

Bullpen: Francisco Cordero recently notched his 300th save. Cordero started closing in 2002. How many other closers have garnered 200 saves since 2002? The left handers are Bray and Jeremy Horst. Horst was recently recalled. We don't have to worry about the 100 MPH of Chapman who is on the DL. Setting up Cordero are Nick Massett, Logan Ondrusek, and Jose Arredondo

MatchUps :

These teams both do one thing extremely well. The Reds hit the ball, the Dodgers pitch the ball. The Dodgers rotation has not faced a lineup like this since they played the Brewers, and I don't think the Reds have faced three pitchers in a row as good as Kuroda/ Kershaw / Billingsley. They are the best we have; it should be a fun series. One other note, the Reds have a .943 OPS at home against LHP so that will be quite the test for Clayton in game two.