August 9 – 12, 2012; vs. Reds – Series Preview
Talk about a weird schedule, the Cubs and Reds will play each other a total of 17 times during the 2012 season. They have played each other only five times this year (one rain out) so far, and haven’t seen each other since May 3rd, a full three months ago. Since then the Reds have taken off and the Cubs have sunk to the bottom of the Central division, which was somewhat expected. The Reds have been rolling as they sit atop the Central division with a 2.5 game lead over the Pirates. July was rather spectacular for the Reds as they had 19 wins, a Major League best (tied with Oakland). They have leveled off here in August going 4-4 so far as they have lost their last four games, but they are doing this without their best player Joey Votto, quite the void to fill. To be fair the Reds have beat up on lesser opponents while Votto has been out, and it continues in Chicago this weekend. I hate saying that but it’s true, the Cubs are 0-for August, no wins in seven games and have lost eight straight. The Cubs offensive woes might get even worse as they face a Reds team that is third in the National League in ERA at 3.38.
Mike Leake has been beat up a little bit over his last three starts, but has turned in a decent season for the Reds up to this point. Leake has started against the Cubs 8 times in his career and he has been good. In those 8 starts Leake is 4-2 with a 3.20 ERA and a 1.189 WHIP. Volstad on the other hand has been very bad, for a while. His numbers against the Reds in his career don’t exactly give me a lot of confidence that Volstad will record his first win in over a year. In four career starts against the Reds, Volstad is 1-3 with a 5.32 ERA, and a 1.479 WHIP, at least he has a win.
Justin Germano has been a pleasant surprise for the Cubs this season after being acquired mid-season from the Red Sox. Germano has been versatile for the Cubs, pitching out of the pen and the rotation. He is not going to light up the radar gun but he knows how to pitch, and pitchers have a chance against the Reds as opposed to throwers. Likewise, Homer Bailey has also been a nice surprise this season for the Reds as he is starting to fulfill some of that potential that everyone was so excited about. In his career, Bailey has been roughed up by the Cubs. In 8 career starts, Bailey is 3-2 with a 5.60 ERA, and 1.667 WHIP.
Travis Wood should have some extra incentive going into this one as the Reds are the only other team he has pitched for in his career. After struggling a bit in July, Wood has been pretty good the last two times out, however he has no wins to show for it. Bronson Arroyo profiles as a guy the Cubs struggle with, changes speeds, more slow than hard and the Cubs refuse to be patient. The numbers back this up, in 26 games (24 starts) against the Cubs in his career he is 9-9 with a 2.97 ERA and a 1.138 WHIP. If the Cubs want success against Arroyo they need to take pitches and force him to elevate.
Talk about being thrown into the fire, Brook Raley will make his second career start against a first place team and a 14 game winner. Raley was the victim of some bad luck in his major league debut where balls were just finding holes. He was unable to work out of jams after those dink and dunk hits and that’s what hurt him. I’m sure nerves will be an issue once again for Raley as he will be making his Wrigley Field debut. Johnny Cueto is having an outstanding season for the Reds, he has been just okay against the Cubs however. In 15 career starts, Cueto is 5-6 with a 3.55 ERA with a 1.320 WHIP.
Season Series: Reds lead 3-2
Prediction: Reds win series, 3-1
Thanks for reading, go Cubs!