by Matt Wilkes

RC+ Preview: Reds vs. Cubs (August 10)

How about a fun fact to kick off today’s preview?

Yes, six teams still remain between the Reds and a Wild Card spot. Yes, the Reds only have a 6.4% chance of reaching the postseason. But it sure is nice to be watching relevant baseball in August.

Great American Ball Park should be packed tonight for game three of the series against the Cubs. Friday night’s attendance (31,569) was the highest for a Reds home game in August since 2017, and Saturday figures to surpass that. First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m. ET.

Pitching Matchup

Sonny Gray toes the rubber for the Reds tonight. He tossed seven shutout innings against the Braves in his last start, a nice bounce back from a disappointing performance against the Pirates on July 29. Look for better control from Gray tonight, especially with his two-seamer/sinker; he walked four Atlanta hitters last Sunday. Gray also threw 41 sliders — more than any other pitch — in his last outing, continuing a sharp increase in usage that began after the All-Star break.

Gray’s slider is his best pitch by far. It has held hitters to a .115 average, .173 slugging percentage, and .167 wOBA in 2019 while registering a 39% whiff rate.

The Reds have seen plenty of Kyle Hendricks this year and haven’t found much success. Hendricks has held them to six runs in 20 innings while striking out 21 and walking four. His fastball rarely touches 90 mph, but he’s one of the best control pitchers in baseball. Despite a splendid ERA, Hendricks’ peripherals aren’t quite on the same level. A lack of strikeouts has caused a sizable difference between his ERA and estimators throughout his career. This year, however, the difference is more stark because his ground-ball rate (47.9% for his career) has taken a nosedive.

Batting Order

Jose Iglesias is out of the lineup for the second straight night. While Jose Peraza isn’t exactly lighting it up, it makes far more sense for the Reds to play him at shortstop as much as possible the rest of the season as they consider his future.

The Cubs are going with a different configuration tonight to deal with Sonny Gray’s reverse platoon splits.

  • vs. LHH: .186/.251/.302, .239 wOBA
  • vs. RHH: .241/.315/.386, .302 wOBA

Those are still some pretty good numbers against righties, though.

The Cubs are swapping Jason Heyward for Albert Almora Jr., Victor Caratini for Jonathan Lucroy, and Ian Happ for David Bote.

[Graphic: Baseball Press]

Cubs Hitter Stats

Reds Hitter Stats

[Graphics: Baseball Savant]

Matt got hooked on Reds baseball after attending his first game in Cinergy Field at 6 years old, and he hasn’t looked back. As a kid, he was often found imitating his favorite players — Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn, Sean Casey, and Austin Kearns — in the backyard. When he finally went inside, he was leading the Reds to 162-0 seasons in MVP Baseball 2005 or keeping stats for whatever game was on TV. He started writing about baseball in 2014 and has become fascinated by analytics and all the new data in the game. Matt is also a graduate of The Ohio State University and currently lives in Columbus. Follow him on Twitter at @_MattWilkes.

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R Smith
R Smith
1 year ago

Nice game. Go reds