Even though the Reds only managed to win one game in their last series it was a lot closer than you would think. They now match up with an Arizona team who they saw just a few days ago. This time they will be traveling west where they have struggled the last few years.
Cincinnati Reds record 21-39
Arizona Diamondbacks record 29-33
Mike Minor 8.64 ERA vs Merrill Kelly 3.32 ERA
Tyler Mahle 5.07 ERA vs Zach Davies 4.21 ERA
Luis Castillo 3.23 ERA vs Zac Gallen 2.95 ERA
What to watch for:
Reinforcements on the way?
The Reds have been dealing with injuries to key players all season long. That is still the case but some of these guys appear to be close to returning. Reigning Rookie of the Year Johnathan India has been on a rehab assignment for about a week now and the same goes for Donovan Solano who is yet to make his Reds debut. The closest of the bunch is utility player Max Schrock who has a chance to play in this series.
Who will step up as the closer?
The Reds bullpen has simply been bad this year. They have been responsible for most of the team’s losses of late. They have some good talent back there but not many people can do it consistently. Alexis Diaz and Jeff Hoffman have been the lone bright spots of the group. The issue with that is the fact Hoffman rarely pitches in meaningful situations, he usually enters when the Reds are either winning or losing big. Diaz has been entering the game whenever David Bell feels its most important, this can be the sixth inning or sometimes the ninth. If Diaz is used before the ninth that’s when things get interesting, every other option has recorded a save but they’ve also blown saves as well.
Keys to a series win
At this point the biggest concern is the bullpen. The hitting has been solid and the starting pitching has been great lately, the bullpen, as we just talked about, has been terrible. You can not ask for much more for the other areas of the game but the bullpen needs to figure it out. Arizona is a very streaky offensive team that strikes out a lot, hopefully someone in the bullpen can take advantage of that and build some confidence to help the team win going forward.
After splitting the series just four days ago, these two teams now meet again. I think this will be another close series but I see the Reds taking it two games to one. I think the offense has been pretty good of late and the starting pitching has as well. The biggest tell of this series will be game one, as Mike Minor has struggled in his first few starts for the Reds but if he can get back on track, that would be a big plus for Cincinnati.