Sunday, October 3, 2010

Two Hands Slapping Together Make a Very Nice Sound - Reds Conclude Regular Season 20 Games Over .500

The Reds put the pretty little bow on top of their very fine regular season today with a 3-2 win over the Brewers. The win capped another series victory (though there were fewer of them in September) with the Reds dropping Friday late, winning yesterday, after blowing a lead, and then, today, taking full advantage of a Brewers team that had given up a long time ago. The algorithms and protractors of the chief nerds at Prospectus predicted an 82-80 finish for the big red ballclub. That prediction was significantly more optimistic than other pre-season sources. So, much like the upcoming series, all the experts can roll their opinions up like a cigarette and smoke them.

Friday night we saw another fine performance by rookie wrong-hander Travis Wood. Since this is sort of a wrap up, I will even take the 30 seconds necessary to provide a couple of statistics for all of the eager visitors. Wood made 17 starts, won 5 and lost 4. For a guy whose velocity was severely lacking just two years ago, he showed a real ability to make major league hitter swing and miss once in a while, striking out 86 in 102 innings. He actually had one more strike out than hits allowed. He had very few bad outings, had several outstanding outings, like when he faced the Phillies and didn't allow a baserunner until the 8th. He likely has a spot reserved for him in next year's rotation.

On Friday, however, the bullpen tired of all of the praise afforded Wood. Ondrusek let the Brewers have the inherited runners and Sam LeCure was treated with his 5th loss of the season after facing one batter, walking him, and getting the loss. Tough break Sam, especially because that's likely the appearance you get to keep with you all offseason.

Saturday marked Homeboy Bailey's, likely, final start of the season. As happens more often than not, he threw a ton of pitches early, exited, and waited for an unreliable members of the bullpen (see Jordan Smith) to blow his lead. Smith took him up on the offer. However, that shouldn't take away from old Homeboy's performance. Sure he put a ton of runners on the basepaths but he also showed a nice ability to throw that leather ball past the wooden sticks of the stick wielders. He set a new career high with 10 k's over only 5 innings. Now, if he wasn't already at 120 pitches by that point in his outing, he would have had greater likelihood of controlling the whether he wins or loses. For the year, Homeboy made 19 starts totaling 109 innings. That's a little over 5 a start which is not great. However, that seems to be something that young power pitchers struggle with and, based upon my unsupported analysis, correctable. Compare Clayton Kershaw between this year and last. However, also look at Scott Kazmir who has never figured out how to overcome that problem. For the year, Homeboy struck out 100 over those 109 innings, trailing only Volquez (9.92) in k's per 9 at 8.26 for members of the starting rotation. He finished 4-3 with an ERA of 4.46.

Today we saw the final start of our giant friend Harang's Cincinnati Reds career. The start was a bummer, done in by a blister on one of his giant finger but at least they let him out of his cage to take a shot at evening up his record. As the Reds have many young arms and lack an extra $12 million to donate to his retirement, he's going to be wearing a new uniform next season. Bon voyage El Giganto. The Reds Rocket appreciates your refusal to conform to the rotational requirement of being terrible for years 2004-2007. 2008 and 2009 weren't great on the statistical sheet but I'm happy to make excuses for you. Injuries, for example and some questionable coaching decisions regarding the number of days you need in between appearances i.e. more than 2. In the end, Maloney appeared and got the win thanks to a Ray Jay Bruce bomb.

Series with the Phillies begins Wednesday with Volquez's weave taking the ball and the mound. Mr. Red Legs has an amusing story which involves a bottle of gin and the Phillie Phanatic's snout. He'll be happy to share it with everyone at the scheduled press conference tomorrow. I don't want to ruin things. The Reds have played the Phillies tough this season and we all know how much Brad Lidge loves handing over late inning victories to the opposition. Despite the Phillies' quality play of late, the Reds look forward to the shower of batteries that will be elicited from the crowd when the Reds go up 2-0 following Arroyo's start on Friday. The bats are ready, Ray Jay's been raking, Phillips' bat appears to be heading in the right direction and Rolen's aching bones have been resting for the last month or so. Everything is a go. Talk with you tomorrow. Reds! Reds! Reds!

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