Home Series No. 24 Preview: Cubs vs. Reds

FrazierMesoroco

Devin Mesoraco and Todd Frazier (right) have been bright spots for an inconsistent Reds lineup. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The Reds spent most of the first half pushing to make the NL Central a very intriguing four-team race, but a rash of injuries finally caught up with them. Since July, the team has been 28-40 and is now just 71-79 overall, a far cry from reaching the one-game NL playoff round like they did in 2013. Given Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Devin Mesoraco and Mat Latos have all missed significant time, it was almost inevitable the Reds would eventually fall off the pace. However, much like the Cubs, this year is hardly a complete loss, as they’ve seen several players emerge as key pieces that could help them contend in the near future.

PITCHING
(3.8 RA/G, 7TH IN NL)*

Tuesday’s starter Johnny Cueto has become the anchor of the Reds rotation and should be a legitimate Cy Young candidate. On Monday, the Cubs will see All-Star Alfredo Simon, who’s tailed off after having a strong start to the season. Despite the dropoff, he’s still 3-0 in four starts with a 1.40 ERA against the Cubs this year. Daniel Corcino is scheduled to make his second career MLB start Wednesday. His fastball/slider combo led to a 28 percent strikeout rate this year at Triple-A. The bullpen has had some issues this year as well. Aroldis Chapman is still one of the more dominant closers in baseball, but the innings leading up to Chapman’s have been troublesome. The Reds’ relief group is 14th in bullpen ERA and save percentage.

HITTING
(3.7 RS/G, 13TH IN NL)

The Reds have struggled to score runs for much of the season. A lot of that has to do with the absence of Votto and his career .417 on-base percentage. He’s only played in 62 games this season due to quad strains. Phillips has continued his downward trend, showing only modest on-base skills to go along with his diminished power. Mesoraco has had a good year, hitting .280/.366/.541 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 23 homers and 74 driven in, while Todd Frazier (.280 AVG, 26 homers, 75 RBI, 20 stolen bases) has helped carry the load. If inconsistent rookie Billy Hamilton can get his OBP to league-average levels, he could be a real asset.

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