Clinch Day is fast approaching
which is a good thing, because there are about a dozen guys on this team who could use a few days off. "We’ve been operating short for a while," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "We’re trying to get as whole as we can in the time period that’s left." Orlando Cabrera left yesterday's game because his oblique was sore again. Jay Bruce didn't play either because of the same thing. Both are expecting to be able to play Tuesday though.
Laynce Nix is still knackered, but he hopes to get in a few games before the playoffs. Jim Edmonds is a corpse. Brandon Phillips got a few hits yesterday including his first homer in a month, but it's obvious his wrist is still bothering him. Scott Rolen looks like he could use a few days off. Am I missing anyone? The sucks part is that even though we'd all like to see these guys rested and ready for the playoffs, the team still has to play for seeding. The last thing I want at this point is to play the Phillies in the first round. They look good.
The Reds are not planning on gathering for a celebration if they clinch the division tonight on a Cardinals loss
It's probably the sensible thing to do, as Dusty Baker explains: "It’s the time of year to rest," Baker said. "Guys have stuff to do. They have family stuff, plus you’ve seen these guys 156 games already, you need some personal time, some family time. Probably some guys will prepare to move out of their places. Some guys only have leases until Oct. 1. There’s a lot to do." While it would be nice to get some champagne pics of our boys in Red, there will be plenty of time to celebrate their NL pennant and WS championship. So we'll probably forget about this pretty quickly.
One of the biggest knocks against the Reds this season is that while they are clearly the best team in the Central
they have gotten kicked around by the other playoff contenders, and especially the Cardinals. "They can't beat good teams" and the like. The Reds are a combined 10-16 against the Phillies, Braves, Padres, and Giants. But I wanted to get a look at how these teams have performed against each other, so I checked it out.
The Giants are 15-20, the Padres 18-16, the Braves are 18-15, and the Phillies (oh boy) are 21-14 against these 5 potential playoff teams. I don't think these records say a whole lot about how they actually match up though. A 30 game sample like this is very easily upset by sample size issues. So I looked at their RS/RA ratios. These numbers are affected by sample size as well, but I think much less so.
The Phillies were still tops at 138-120, the Braves are 132-125, the Giants are 141-139, the Padres are 117-120, and the Reds are 115-139. They still don't come out looking ok, but I think that's mostly due to two games in August against the Giants where they were outscored 27-7. That 20 run difference is enough to make this small sample size pretty ugly. I think the most important thing to take out of all of this though is that these records against and RS/RA are really nothing more than talking points for Baseball Tonight. In a 5 or 7-game series in October nearly anything can happen. What WON'T be happening though is no one on the field is going to be thinking about 4 games in July or 2 in August.
Hall o' Famer Hal blames the Cardinals clipped wings on the Ryan Ludwick trade
"I still say it (the Cards collapse) all goes back to the trade deadline when they traded outfielder Ryan Ludwick for pitcher Jake Westbrook when the Cardinals had enough pitching but not enough hitting. What were they thinking?" I think their issues are much more deep-seeded than that, but the sentiment rings true.
Their offense has been Pujols and Holliday and prayers all season, while their rotation was anchored by the second-finest trio of starters in the NL. Jaime Garcia has since taken a seat, but one wonders how far they would have pushed him if they were just a few games closer. In the end though, I'm sure not one of us cares why the Cardinals laid an egg (two bird metaphors!), just that they did and we are all very thankful for it. "National League Central Division Champion Cincinnati Reds" makes my middles all fluttery.
I rolled up my sleeves after reading this one
BJ Bethel at the DDN says the Reds should be more careful with Aroldis Chapman and dial back his "Frampton Comes Alive" fastball. His argument is based entirely upon 3 examples of hard-throwing pitchers who succumbed to injuries. He draws the conclusion that their superior velocity was the cause of their injuries, and thus the Reds should tell Chapman to not throw as hard.
Aside from the eye-rolling weakness of his argument-by-example, there is also the considerable scientific research that shows that mechanical issues are the main cause of injuries, not velocity. For every Rob Dibble and Stephen Strasburg he can trot as to make his case, there is a Bob Gibson, Roger Clemens, and Randy Johnson out there to parry it. Look, none of us know fer sher what alchemy can be conjured to protect pitchers from disaster. The truth is most likely that no such thing exists. Pitching is a hazardous profession with an alarming attrition rate, and it's true that teams in general should do their damnedest to protect their pitchers from harm. But gelding our best horse is probably the dumbest thing I've heard since Oysterhead.