Los Angels Dodgers vs. Cincinnati Reds – September 17, 2021
The Cincinnati Reds (76-71) season was on the brink yesterday, but the Reds were able to outlive Pittsburgh for a 1-0 win over the Pirates. The Reds continue to lag behind in the race for second in the wild card with 15 games to go, despite losing 7 straight series. The Reds will get a huge boost to their roster as Jesse Winker returns for the first time in over a month.
The Reds have the third easiest schedule remaining in baseball, but it sure won’t be this weekend. The Reds will host three games against the behemoth Los Angeles Dodgers (94-53) starting tonight at 7:10 p.m. The Dodgers are currently trailing the Giants by 1.0 games for division leader NL West.
The Dodgers won’t make it to the finish as they want to avoid the wild card game the Reds are begging to surrender. For the first time this year, the Dodgers are at full power and their machine is rolling. The Dodgers have won 6 straight games and are 25-7 in their last 32 games. If you’re looking for a little bright spot, the Dodgers only have a 0.700 team OPS in their last 30 games, which ranks 20th in MLB. The Reds will field three good starting pitchers to hopefully keep that trend going, at least for a few more days.
Programming Note: Tonight’s game is available on the MLB Network for those outside the Cincinnati Market.
The Reds will face a lot of good starting pitchers this weekend, but don’t sleep on the quality Luis Castillo has been. As of June 1, Castillo’s 2.91 ERA is the 6th best in baseball. He hasn’t faced the Dodgers since 2019, but has a career 2.60 ERA in 3 starts. It’s a big start for Castillo tonight and hopefully a successful audition for a possible joker clash in 19 days.
The bad news: Walker Buehler has a 2.32 ERA this season has really only had two bad starts all year.
The good news: One of those bad starts was this month when he gave the Giants 6 ERs, and the other bad start was when he allowed 5 ER points against the Reds in April. Jesse winker Couldn’t have come back at a better time as he has 2 career homers against Walker.
The Reds go with a daring defensive formation. Jesse winker will be in CF for the first time since 2019. Winker played 132.0 innings that year, the only time he played in CF. He didn’t make a mistake, but saved -3 defensive points.
The Dodgers lineup is stacked. The top six hitters in the Dodgers roster all have wRC + over 127. The Reds get a slight break at the bottom of the order. Cody bellinger (48 wRC +) and Gavin Lux (88 wRC +) are having some very disappointing seasons for the Dodgers. All-Star Chris taylor (118 wRC +) and AJ Pollack (132 wRC +) are both injured. Pollack is on IL and very unlikely to appear on the series. Taylor has missed 6 straight games with neck pain.
Winker’s (and Naquin’s) value
Tyler naquin was placed on the IL as a movement to bring Jesse winker back. Naquin was injured Friday night in St. Louis when he collided with Jose Barrero. Naquin will not be able to return from IL before Wednesday. It looks like his season could be in jeopardy with just 15 games to go.
It’s unclear if Jesse Winker can return to form this late in the season, but I don’t think we realize how important he (and even Naquin to a lesser extent) is to the Reds’ offense.
Here are the weighted tracks created from the opening day until it leaves on the IL:
Winker alone was worth 15% of the Reds’ total offense. Naquin alone throughout the season was worth 9% of the Reds’ total offense. We are literally talking about a quarter of their total offense.
We’re (rightly) talking about the Reds’ struggles against LHP, but a lot of it was masked because the Reds had the best attack in baseball against RHP with Winker.
The Reds led the MLB with .339 wOBA vs. RHP until 08/15. However, as of 8/15, the Reds have 0.316 wOBA against RHP (16th in MLB).
News and Notes
Does anyone have a spare brick wall we can walk through? pic.twitter.com/gTyYdCtGqj
– Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) September 17, 2021
This is how Jesse Winker introduced himself for the zoom.
He then spent the next 10 minutes basically telling us that he had decided, “(Beep) this, I’m going to play.”
– Jeremy Rauch (@ FOX19Jeremy) September 17, 2021
All Reds players on the pitch currently wear the same jersey.
“Us against the world.”
In case you don’t see it, it’s a red flag planted on the globe. pic.twitter.com/TnOVnhoR5J
– Charlie Goldsmith (@CharlieG__) September 17, 2021
#Red top prospect Hunter Greene has reached his innings limit and will no longer pitch this season. He is in good health, according to the team. Tim Adleman to leave for Louisville on Saturday
– C. Trent Rosecrans (@crent) September 17, 2021
If we’re being completely honest, it feels like the Reds don’t have much of a chance of winning this series. Most Reds fans would probably win a game this weekend. What’s good / painful / exhilarating / deflating / warming / heartbreaking about baseball is that we really never know how a game or series will turn out. The Dodgers are as complete a team as I have never seen in my life watching baseball. That’s not to say it’s impossible for Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray and Wade Miley to have good starts this weekend. We’ve seen each of these guys completely dominate at times this season.
The Reds’ offense has been limping lately, but we’ve seen them come out of nowhere and hit some really good pitchers. It really would be the sportiest thing in Cincinnati to end a 7 game losing streak against the most talented team in baseball. Go Red !