The Reds are rebuilding. So far, they have a core to build around. Under contract are first baseman Joey Votto through 2024, closer Raisel Iglesias through 2020, and catcher Devin Mesoraco through 2018. Controlled by arbitration through 2019 are center fielder Billy Hamilton and second baseman Scooter Gennett.
Their big weakness is starting pitching. So far this season, 13 pitchers have started for the Reds. As a team their starters rank #30 in Wins Above Average (WAA) at -6.5. [The D-backs rank first with +7.9.] As individuals, they range from 17 to 117 in ERA+, with a median of 66.
Their fans must have noticed their losing streaks. In April they had two 4-game losing streaks separated by a single win. In May they had a 7-game losing streak. In June they had a 9-game losing streak. If they are swept by the D-backs, it could be part of another losing streak.
Winning this series is important so the D-backs can gain ground on the Dodgers. It’s a chance for the D-backs to create their own story about how they swept the Reds. The central characters will be the starting pitchers. With teamwork of supporting characters like Paul Goldschmidt, and with heroic bullpen characters, the story could be thrilling.
Friday. Zack Greinke (154 ERA+, 10.2 SO/9, 1.8 BB/9) vs Tim Adleman (94 ERA+, 8.3 SO/9, 3.6 BB/9)
This game is at Chase, which is good because Zack Greinke has pitched slightly better at Chase this season, despite it being a hitter’s park. The only two Reds who have done well against Greinke are Votto (BA .600 and OPS 1.467 in 34 PAs.) and Barnhart (BA .414 and OPS 1,362 in 6 PAs). Cozart is a great hitter, but has not done well against Greinke in 15 PAs. With an effective game plan against those hitters, Greinke should do well.
This season is Tim Adleman’s second season in the Majors. He has not yet faced D-back hitters, so it may take the second time through the order for D-backs to find ways to get hits.
Saturday. Taijuan Walker (143 ERA+, 8.0 SO/9, 3.4 BB/9) vs Luis Castillo (102 ERA+, 12.1 SO/9, 5.0 BB/9)
In the last 9 games, Taijuan Walker has lowered his ERA from 4.57 to 3.30, despite pitching two games at Coors Field! He pitched 11.2 innings at Coors Field with 4 earned runs. Well done!
In January, the Reds acquired AA pitching prospect Luis Castillo. In June, he was promoted to the Majors, skipping AAA. In his first three games, he pitched 16.2 innings, allowing 19 hits and 8 earned runs. Although not bad for a young rookie, this game is a golden opportunity for D-backs.
Sunday. Patrick Corbin (98 ERA+, 8.1 SO/9, 2.6 BB/9) vs Bailey (17 ERA+, 7.7 SO/9, 9.6 BB/9)
After some difficulties in May and June, Corbin has pitched well recently. In the last two weeks, Patrick Corbin raised his ERA+ from 92 to 98. Corbin was challenged by the Dodgers on 4 July. Patrick Corbin pitches better at Chase, so he will likely bounce back from facing the Dodgers.
Homer Bailey’s first game this season was a disaster – 8 earned runs in 1.2 innings. The second wasn’t much better. His third game against the Rockies was better – 8 hits, 1 earned run in 6 innings. The 8 hits tells me his win was luck as much as skill. This game is another golden opportunity for the D-backs.
State of the Season: Teamwork
This season, the D-backs have teamwork. I am grateful.
Teamwork was achieved by additions to the team, such as Gregor Blanco. In spring training, he wanted to see more love of the game and passion to play. He had the guts to suggest, “…let’s start playing for each other…[and]…win without worrying about individual stats….” After Blanco broke the ice, fellow veterans Daniel Descalso, and catchers Jeff Mathis and Chris Iannetta spread the same message. Link to details.
Teamwork was achieved by subtractions from the team. The D-backs traded Miguel Montero to the Cubs for Jeferson Mejia and Zack Godley. Looks like the D-backs won that trade! What a shock when the Cubs DFA’d Miguel Montero. His hitting was probably good enough (OPS+ of 112) to keep him on the field despite his weak defense. The deciding factor was his selfish attitude that was devoid of teamwork. He complained to the media about Arrieta when 7 bases were stolen in one game. Was that the best way to discuss a problem? Montero was at least 50% to blame because this season he allowed 31 stolen bases. The D-backs platoon of catchers, especially Mathis and Ianetta who live teamwork every day, are a stark contrast to Montero. Link to details.
Mental Habit of the Series: Create Your Story
Peter Guber is co-owner of the Dodgers. Dodgers and D-backs are battling for the NL West Division title this season. He was interviewed by Mike Ozanian on Forbes Sports Money. He talked about why he is one of the most successful people on the planet.
I heard one amazing idea: make my life a worthwhile story. A worthwhile story sharpens my focus on achieving success. Nearly every baseball player who reaches the Majors has a worthwhile story. Nevertheless, baseball careers sometimes take unexpected turns, so stories need to be modified. A worthwhile story has four facets.
Have authentic and clear intentions/goals with emotional investment in the “why?” How would I feel when I reach that goal? How would I live more-fully when I reach that goal? How awesome would that be? What are the reasons that I know reaching my goal is worthwhile?
Identify and shine light on my plus-plus tools,
talents, and abilities. When I did something well, what about me was the key factor that caused my success? What was unusual and different in that experience? What did other people say? Why was I awesome?
Add power to my success story by highlighting my tools/talent/abilities. First, change my process/thinking so it highlights my tools/talent/abilities. Second, add complimentary skills that enhance my tools/talent/abilities.
Write my story to include the truth that the best stories have uncertainty! Success and failure are handmaidens. Changing my story to reduce risk of failure very often moves me farther from my goal. Instead, I strive for adventures. To be an adventure, it must include risk of failure.
Peter Guber said that knowing that my story has uncertainty in the outcome, I actively participate in the story and that tips the scales in favor of success. Those around me see me battle with uncertainty and they often become my advocates to help me succeed.
Create my own success story is the habit of the series.