The Reds (73-83) are an even 8-8 against the Brewers (86-70) and have outscored Milwaukee 85-69 in their head-to-head games.
The NL standings have clarified in a few cases and remain close in others. The Cardinals hold a 3.5 game lead over the Brewers in the NL Central division. They have two more games in Arizona before returning home to face the Cubs three times. St. Louis looks like the division champion, but what happens if the Cubs return the favor and sweep the weekend series?
The Brewers and Washington Nationals have comfortable leads over other NL Wild Card contenders. But home field advantage for the NL play-in game between the Nats and Milwaukee is essentially a draw. You can ask Johnny Cueto about the importance of that. Both teams have 86 wins, the Brewers have one more loss. The Nats play the Phillies four times in the next three days before finishing with a wild 3-game inter-league series against Cleveland, a team also competing for its postseason life.
The Christian Yelich-less Brewers still have a lot at stake the next three games. The Reds did big damage to the Cubs postseason hopes, let’s see if they can extend the same division-rival courtesy to Milwaukee. They lead-off with Sonny Gray.
The Reds haven’t announced their starting pitchers for the final two games in Pittsburgh. So it’s possible this is the final time we’ll see Sonny Gray take the mound this year.
When you’re looking for reasons to be optimistic about the Reds and that the club made progress this year, Sonny Gray should be at the top of your list. Gray has put together a 2019 that falls just outside the inner circle of NL Cy Young candidates. He’s been 20% better than league average in xFIP and he’s in the top 20% of xwOBA and K%. Gray has been a 4+ WAR pitcher this year with some estimates up to 5.7 WAR. His fundamentals are strong and indicate a good possibility for him to keep up this performance next season. He’s signed for three years to a team-friendly contract.
Adrian Houser has used a nice strikeout, walk and ground ball rate to make a solid contributor to the Brewers rotation. Houser is making his 17th start. The Reds have seen him a few times both as a starter and reliever.
The Reds are still without Josh VanMeter. Phillip Ervin leads off again against a right-handed pitcher. Derek Dietrich will be looking for his second hit in 46 plate appearances since July 20. He’s not batting 8th. That’s Jose Peraza. Out of 233 MLB hitters with at least 350 PA, Peraza ranks #231 in run creation. Peraza is among league leaders in being caught stealing, though.
Here are the splits for Reds hitters against right-handed pitchers:
[Graphics: Baseball Savant]
Big thanks to Mike Hart, who contributed graphics and research for this post.