A brief look at an opponent we play this weekend.
Dates we play them: 6/19-6/21 @ CIN
Offense: A potential lineup: Willy Taveras-CF, Alex Gonzalez-SS, Brandon Phillips-2B, Laynce Nix-LF, Ramon Hernandez-1B, Jay Bruce-RF, Jerry Hairston-3B, Ryan Hanigan-C
Willy Taveras is the Reds' leadoff hitter, despite the fact that he is currently rocking a .270 OBP. I enjoy having constants like this in the real world. I know Dusty Baker will always make decisions I will question to no end and that Willy Taveras will leadoff even though he has never drawn more than 34 walks in a season due solely to his blazing speed. It's like knowing the sun is going to rise in the morning. Alex Gonazalez is another hitter who has no place near the top of a batting order (think Juan Uribe with less pop). It seems like this is the year he finally falls off the cliff. The 32 year old is hitting .214/.256/.302. I don't care how good your glove is, you would have to be immaculate to make up for that slash-line (Alex Gonzalez is not holy). Brandon Phillips is one of the best second-tier second basemen in baseball. The former failed-Indians' prospect (thankfully they gave up on him) turned the corner when he moved to southern-Ohio. He brings speed and power to the table along with plus defense. He should be a key player for the Reds for the next few seasons. Jayson Nix's older brother Laynce is enjoying a brief career resurgence in the Great American Ballpark this season. His .310 OBP is a new career high, but it's his .514 SLG and .257 ISO that have turned him into a regular for only the second time in his career. He's probably going to cool-off quite a bit, but I kind of hope he doesn't.
The Reds are experimenting a little bit by putting Ramon Hernandez out at first since Joey Votto went on the DL. In the incredibly small sample-size of 26 games, he has been awful out there. His weakening bat was acceptable when he was a catcher, but he can't hit well enough to be a bonafide corner infielder. Jay Bruce needs to learn how to walk. He has great power (.249 ISO), but until he starts showing some more improved plate discipline he won't reach his full potential. Jerry Hairston continues to exist in the baseball world. Somehow, in 52 games he is one homerun away from tying his career high of 8. He'll be out of the lineup once Edwin Encarnacion comes of the DL. No one has benefitted from all of these injuries more than Ryan Hanigan. He currently has an OPS+ of 107 and in my opinion might be the better option to go with at catcher once Votto returns and bumps Hernandez off of first base.
Pitching: A potential rotation plus closer: Aaron Harang-RHP, Bronson Arroyo-RHP, Johnny Cueto-RHP, Micah Owings-RHP, Matt Maloney-LHP and Francisco Cordero-RHP
Aaron Harang has had the bad fortune of pitching in Cincinnati almost his entire career. This has resulted in his relative obscurity outside of the Queen City and the fantasy baseball world. In 2006 he lead the NL in wins and strikeouts and recieved no votes for the Cy Young Award. Bronson Arroyo is better known for being with Boston in 2004 and playing terrible music. His stuff is fairly unimpressive and he appears to be on the downward spiral part of his career. Cueto is somehow leading the NL in ERA+ (206!) and I can't figure out how. His numbers aren't that impressive, but seeing as we've never seen him before we will lose. He is a fastball and slider guy to the extreme. Micah Owings is a mediocre pitcher and an above average hitter. A few seasons ago there were rumors the the D-Back's were thinking of trotting him out to play first on days he wasn't pitching. He was the PTBNL in the Adam Dunn trade last season. Matt Maloney is the only lefty in the rotation. He throws a high-80s fastball and a change-up and appears to be nothing impressive. Francisco Cordero is the kind of luxury a team like Cincy shouldn't have splurged on. He's a good but not great closer and cost them way too much money.
Outlook: Bad. We've never seen Cueto or Owings, so that's probably two losses right there. Bold prediction? We lose the series 1-2.