Everyone’s favorite (defined liberally) late spring tradition, Interleague Play, start today as the Cincinnati Reds roll into the Bronx for the first time since June of 2008 (I was there!). The Reds come in at 19-18 after splitting a two game series with the Mets in Queens. The Reds were an “en vogue” pick to win the NL Central this year, but they’ve underachieved a little bit, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
Going into yesterday’s game vs. the Mets, only two of their players had a wRC+ of over 100. Predictably, those players were Joey Votto (180) and Jay Bruce (157). After them, the next closest player (minimum 50 PAs) was Ryan Hannigan and his 96 wRC+. Going even farther, those three and Zack Cozart (93) are the only ones with a wRC+ above 90. Brandon Phillips and Drew Stubbs (76 each) are definitely not where they want to be.
On the pitching side of it, Johnny Cueto and Bronson Arroyo have carried the weight in the rotation, while the bullpen has been absolutely lights out. Led by Aroldis Chapman and his propensity to strike out anything that moves, the Reds feature only one reliever with an ERA over four (Sam LeCure, 4.41 in 16.1 innings) and five relievers with an ERA under 2.5 (Chapman and Logan Ondrusek at 0.00; Alfredo Simon at 2.30; J.J. Hoover at 1.08; and Jose Arredondo 2.41). Getting to the starters is going to be key, as it always is, but with a bullpen that’s performed, it’s even more important. Who are those starters going to be?
The Yankees will face Bronson Arroyo tonight, with Andy Pettitte opposing him in his second start back from retirement. Arroyo is doing his usual thing: not striking out a ton of batters (6.70 K/9; 17.6 K%), not walking many (1.02 BB/9; 2.7 BB%), and giving up a lot of long balls (1.02 HR/9; but only an 8.6 HR/FB%). His E/F/x split is pretty even at 3.25/3.36/3.67. He’s not getting a lot of grounders, 35% (career 39.9), so the Yankees need to take advantage of that.
Saturday’s game will feature Homer Bailey and Ivan Nova. Bailey, a former top prospect, is still looking to gain traction in the Majors. He’s been serviceable for the last three years (1.3; 1.9; 1.5 fWAR; but 0.5; 0.4; and 0.2 bWAR), but still hasn’t taken that next step. Bailey’s ERA sits at 4.35 (115 ERA-) and his FIP/xFIP are at 4.71 and 4.34 (126 and 118 “minus marks” respectively), so he’s been worse than average each way.
On Sunday, the Yanks and Reds will send their aces to the mound as CC Sabathia will play host to Johnny Cueto, who’s continuing hot pitching that started last year. Cuteo’s ERA is certainly shiny at 1.85 right now (50 ERA-) though his FIP (89 FIP-) and xFIP (105 xFIP-) don’t love him as much. Cueto’s getting it done with control (1.72 BB/9; 4.7 BB%) and keeping the ball in the park (0.52 HR/9; 6.1 HR/FB).
The Yankees are coming off a really frustrating week, so hopefully they can right the ship against a team that isn’t hitting too well and against two pitchers whom they should match up favorably with. Just get interleague done with ASAP, please.