While this team still can't crack the Cardinals, falling to 7-14 since the start of the 2010 season after last night's loss, recent fortunes against the Brewers are a different story altogether. During the same stretch of time, the Reds are 14-3, scoring exactly 100 runs in 17 games (5.9 runs per game). But even without Greinke, Brewers' pitching is substantially improved over last season. And the Brewers as a whole are, regrettably, much better than they showed during their opening series sweep by the Reds. It fills me with some amount of shame to point out that the Yeastmaster Generals are currently 0.5 games ahead of the Reds in the NL Central.
In a rotation with Yovani Gallardo, Shaun Marcum and, at some point, Zack Greinke, Chris Narveson's name is easily buried. He was out of the majors in '07 and '08, making his return in '09 in his age 27 season and putting in a back-of-rotation caliber performance. He's stormed out of the gates in 2011, posting a 2.19 ERA (though he's walking 4 batters per nine innings). The Reds have had a knack for helping struggling have a confidence-boosting start, with Jake Westbrook the most recent example. But maybe the reverse is also true: Narveson is pitching well, but should be struggling more. Maybe we can help.
After scoring only 7 runs during the St. Louis series, Dusty is muling a lineup shuffle. I'm sure at least a symbolic move is in order after that kind of showing, but things aren't going to improve until the guys hitting in and around the 3-spot - Bruce and a Rolen surrogate - starting hitting. And I'm not sure how much difference it makes whether they're trying to get on for Votto or hitting behind him.
Joey Votto and Jonny Gomes are curretnly both in the MLB-overall Top 10 in walk-rate, with Gomes checking in at 4th, walking 20.5% of the time. This is a good thing. What is not a good thing is that there is so often either a place to put one of them - or hitting behind them isn't capable of at least advancing them. While the extreme caution may be cutting into Votto's home run rates, you can't convince me he's suffered any ill effects from the Bonds treatment. The problem is lack of supporting cast.
Here's a radically experimental lineup I'd try against the lefty tonight, with the main goal just getting dudes on base around Votto. I'm not strictly opposed to moving Brandon Phillips back to the cleanup spot, but he's been hitting like he's born to hit 2nd over the past two seasons. And he's the kind of hitter who thrives there. We'll see whether or not Dusty agrees, hm, OK he doesn't:
Just a conversation starter.
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