Thursday, April 21, 2011

4/22 Reds @ Cardinals

The most anticipated series so far this season starts today vs the Cardinals, even more anticipated than the opening series vs the Brewers in my opinion. The Cardinals hate the Reds, and the Reds hate the Cards. Cards' fans are especially pissed because we knocked them off their thrown last year, and we are here to stay! Trash talking is at an all time high, just check out Brandon Phillips' twitter page. Here's a few tidbits from @datdudebp:
  • @RasmusGirl sent "You are such a HATER" to BP, his response was "Yes I am, but you just mad cuz Colby (Colby Rasmus) doesn't love you back! Change your twitter name lady"
  • Brandon tweeted "Just landed in St. Louis! Sad face... But these wins will make me happy! On our way 2 the hotel & I hope its not Hilton at the BallPark! Lol"
  • and "My teammates ask me if I knew where some good places 2 eat at in St. Louis! I said, "Yea, come with me 2 the store 2 get some Lunchables!""
  • And lastly a pic that BP tweeted of him and Nelly is pretty cool right here.
Now back to the usual shenanigans.. in the series opener we have Edinson Volquez (2-0, 6.75) vs Kyle McClellan (2-0, 1.89) facing off at 8:15pm at Busch Stadium. It was huge to win the finale vs D'backs and maybe get some momentum for this exciting series. Forecast has some thunderstorms in it, but I'm too lazy to look up how bad it looks, and last time I predicted a rain out it got in with no delays. For all weather updates I'm sure you can check out @stormchasernick on Twitter who is also a huge Reds' fan.

First, we'll check out Kyle McClellan, here are his stats vs the Reds. In his last start he went 7IP vs the Dodgers and only gave up 1 run on 6 hits to defeat Clayton Kershaw. Some notables on McClellan:
  • Brandon Phillips is 0-9 with 4k, so with all the smack he's talking hopefully this changes! It probably will be a tough night for BP, as you'll see in a little with McClellan's strong curveball.
  • Ramon Hernandez and Joey Votto have home runs.
  • Only players w/ more than one hit vs McClellan are Hernandez (3-7) and Renteria (2-2). I expect a Renteria start as he is playing his former team.
  • He has done exceptional this year vs LHB who are batting .222 (.263 OBP) and have the only HR vs him.
  • RHB have hit him well at .324 and he also has a tendency to walk RHB and they have a .410 OBP.
  • He gives up a HR every 40.75 AB, mainly due to his tendency to throw breaking pitches.
  • He has a 2.77 career ERA at Busch Stadium.
Now a little FanGraphs analysis on McClellan and his changes from last year to this year:
  • This year his Changeup has been his most effective pitch (3.3 wCH rating). Remember wCH stands for "Changeups above average" or how much more effective his changeup is compared to the rest of the league.
  • So I decided to look into why his Changeup has been his best pitch this year, because his Curve, Cutter, and Fastball were better than it last year..and not only has he improved it (Thanks to Dave Duncan probably), but he has thrown it 11.3% of the time compared to 5.9% last year.
  • His Curveball (which is nasty) has only been thrown at a 13.1% rate this year, compared to 22.6% last year which is where the extra changeups are coming from.
  • He's also throwing his cutter a little more than last year 11%-->15%
  • Looking at Plate Disclipline stats you can see a correlation between them and the change in pitch selection. For example, batters swing % on balls is down to 19.7% from 27.1%, which can be explained by the lower amount of curveballs which McClellan likes to throw a little below the zone to get batters to chase.
  • The strike zone swing % has also gone up 6% from 57 to 63, which can be attributed to more changeups and less curveballs.
  • He's throwing more strikes (54.8% up from 48.6%), more first pitch strikes (59.9% to 62.8%), and batters are making more contact (86.9% from 82.2%) which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
  • His Ground Ball to Fly Ball ratio is 1.20 compared to his career average of 1.50, and this has gone up because he's throwing less curveballs
  • As I mentioned before all of his pitches are strong, and the only pitch he's had issues with in the past is his Cutter (-5.0 wCT last year), but it has improved this year so it's hard to tell if it's sample size or if he improved on that as well, I tend to think there is an improvement because he's also throwing it more this year.
  • IMO, this is bad news for the Reds because a lot of our hitters have extreme flaws vs certain pitches, I.e BP and Stubbs vs Curveballs. With his strong arsenal of 4-5 pitches, he should be able to hold the Reds to 2-3 runs over 7IP.
Cards closer, Trever Miller (just replaced Franklin I believe), has a good history vs all the Reds except Renteria and Rolen. Stubbs and BP are also 1-2, BP has a home run and Stubbs has a triple. Check 'em out here.

Pick to Click: Joey Votto

Now, onto Volquez...can the first inning woes end?! Here are his stats vs current Cards:
  • Pujols is only player with a home run vs Volquez, and he has 2 and is 3-7 vs him.
  • Cards bat .342 in their careers vs Volquez if you subtract Lohse's 0-5.
  • Holliday and Berkman are 2-6 (berkman also has 4 bb), while Rasmus and Theriot are 2-4 each.
  • RHB and LHB have the same averages this year vs Volquez, but he has given up 5 of his 6 homers and 13 of his 16 runs up vs RHB, but tends to walk LHB a lot more.
  • This is bad news because the Cards are stacked from the right side, minus Colby Rasmus and Berkman (switch hitter).
Cordero has had a great career vs all the Cards players except Pujols (3-10) and Rasmus (4-6), most notably Berkman is 0-12 with 5K. Check the others out here.

Pick to Click: Matt Holliday

It doesn't look great for the Reds tonight, but there will be a lot of passion in this game and anything can happen. There will be a playoff type atmosphere at Busch Stadium, and it should be a fun game to watch/listen to. I think the Cards pull it off by a run or two. No fun off topic stuff today because I've been so busy and out of the loop that I have no idea what is going on in the world of sports. Go Reds! Follow me on Twitter @EricLilly7

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