As the Cincinnati Reds head south to Atlanta to take on the Braves, they come to town sporting a .500 record (11-11), good for 3rd place in the National League central race. A shaky bullpen has not helped the very promising team in the early going, but the Reds have more than enough offensive and pitching weapons to pick up the pieces and challenge the Braves over this three game set.
7:35 PM EST, Friday, April 25
7:10 PM EST, Saturday, April 26
1:35 PM EST, Sunday, April 27
The Reds’ Weapons:
The Reds offensive can live and die by their leadoff man, Billy Hamilton. The six foot, 160 pound compact speedster can turn a walk into a run in the blink of an eye, without the use of a hit by his team. The Reds are not afraid to use Hamilton to play some small ball, a dimension not seen by their team for quite some time. The saving grace for the Braves is that Hamilton has walked just three times all year, good for a .266 OBP. Limit Hamilton, limit the damage.
The Braves haven’t had that much of a problem with surrendering the long ball so far in 2014, which is a positive note given the presence of sluggers such as Jay Bruce and Joey Votto, while the aging Brandon Phillips and Ryan Ludwick can still hold their own in the pop department. If the Braves can continue giving up minimal homers while being able to handle the on base threat of Hamilton, it could be yet another fruitful series for the best starting pitching staff in the majors so far.
The Reds’ Arms:
Homer Bailey is the first arm the Braves will meet this series, and that could be a good or bad thing for the Braves. Bailey’s peripherals have very good in the early going, although he is surrendering a lot of hits; he is also still striking out batters to a tune of an 11.1 strikeouts per 9 ratio. This will be an interesting watch for Braves fans.
Aside from Bailey’s early misfortune, the rest of the Reds rotation has been rock solid, none more than Sunday’s starter, Johnny Cueto. Cueto has already turned in a shutout and two complete games for the Reds, rocking a strikeout per every one of his 39 innings. The Braves will counter with Julio Teheran, making for an great matchup that could very well be an offense-less pitching duel.
On the other side of the coin, while the Braves have had some rough spots in the bullpen, pretty much every member of the Reds bullpen, save acting closer Jonathan Broxton, have been getting into trouble rather consistently. In the 44 innings not pitched by Broxton, the Reds bullpen has surrendered 28 runs. The Braves play well with the game on the line, so if the Braves can get to the pen quickly, it could be a very successful series for Atlanta.
Tags: Atlanta Braves