by Matt Wilkes

Trevor Bauer strengthens Cy Young case as Reds beat Brewers

Behind a masterful start by Cy Young favorite Trevor Bauer and three home runs from the offense, the Reds picked up a 6-1 victory over the Brewers on Wednesday.

The Reds’ biggest win of the season moves them to 29-28 with three games to go. They’ve won nine of their last 11 games and the last four series to surge back into playoff contention. For now, the Reds retain the first wild card spot in the National League and will have it all to themselves if the Giants lose to the Rockies later tonight. Second place in the NL Central is still within reach, as well. As of the time this was published, the Cardinals are losing 6-0 to the Royals, which would move the Reds back into a tie for second.

Per Redleg Nation’s Nick Kirby, the magic number for the Reds to clinch a playoff spot is three. Any combination of three Reds wins or Brewers and Phillies losses gets them into October. FanGraphs gives the Reds an 84.5% chance to make the playoffs, while FiveThirtyEight has the odds at 88%.

On short rest, Bauer quite possibly put an exclamation point on his Cy Young campaign on Wednesday evening. He struck out 12, walked one, and gave up only four hits and one run in eight strong innings and 104 pitches. Bauer’s 12th and final strikeout was his 100th of the season.

The start lowered Bauer’s ERA to 1.73, best in the National League, to go along with a 2.86 FIP, 3.21 xFIP, and 36.0% strikeout rate. He may have another chance to add to his resumé if he again pitches on three days of rest on Sunday against the Twins.

Bauer had all of his pitches working on Wednesday and put them where he wanted, displaying some of his best command of the season. Whether the ball was up, down, or on the corners, he painted the edges of the strike zone — and the Brewers had almost no answers.

No moment was bigger than the top of the sixth inning. Eugenio Suarez made a throwing error to start the inning, and that was followed by a line-drive single to center field. The runner, catcher Jacob Nottingham, foolishly tried to take third on the play, and Shogo Akiyama made a perfect throw to third base that Suarez couldn’t handle. But Bauer buckled down, striking out the next three hitters and unleashing an emotional yell with each one.

Bauer’s off-speed pitches were especially on point. He registered 33 combined swings on his curveball, slider, and cutter, and the Brewers missed 15 times (45.5% whiff rate). He largely saved his curveball for the last three innings, with 11 of his 16 curveballs coming in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings.

As was the case on Tuesday night, the Reds jumped out to a first-inning lead on a two-run home run. This time, it was Joey Votto providing the fireworks, sending a towering blast over the left field wall (109.3 mph, 413 feet) after Akiyama walked to lead off the game.

Votto has only hit one ball harder this season. He now has 11 home runs in 209 plate appearances this season. He had 15 in 608 plate appearances last year and 12 in 623 in 2018. Yeah, he still bangs.

Jesse Winker ensured the Reds wouldn’t repeat Tuesday’s offensive performance when he lined a home run to lead off the bottom of the fourth inning (97.5 mph, 351 feet). It was his 12th home run of the season.

Bauer issued a leadoff walk to Daniel Vogelbach in the fifth inning, and it came back to bite him when Orlando Arcia hit a two-out double.

But following an error and a walk by Votto, Suarez broke the game wide open in the fifth inning with a three-run home run (96.7 mph, 353 feet).

The dinger helped Suarez regain the team lead over Nick Castellanos in home runs with 15.

Fresh off the injured list, Wade Miley pitched a scoreless ninth inning. He allowed a weak infield single to start the inning but retired the side on a flyout and a double play to end it.

Reds Most Valuable Players

  • Trevor Bauer: .251 WPA (Win Probability Added)
  • Joey Votto: .156 WPA
  • Eugenio Suarez: .120 WPA

Play of the Game

  • Joey Votto: .159 WPA | Two-run home run in 1st inning

Hardest-Hit Balls

  • Joey Votto: 109.3 mph | Home run in 1st inning
  • Tucker Barnhart: 102.8 mph | Single in 2nd inning
  • Mike Moustakas: 101.2 mph | Double in 1st inning
  • Jesse Winker: 97.5 mph | Home run in 4th inning
  • Eugenio Suarez: 96.7 mph | Home run in 5th inning

Highest Velocities By Pitcher

  • Trevor Bauer: 96.2 mph
  • Wade Miley: 88.4 mph

Unluckiest Out of the Day

  • Shogo Akiyama: 33% hit probability | Groundout in 7th inning

Expected Batting Averages

  • Brewers: .159
  • Reds: .183

What’s Next?

Following an off day on Thursday, the Reds will travel to Minnesota for the final regular season series against the Twins. Here’s the expected pitching matchup:

[Photo Credit: R.J. Oriez]

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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1 year ago

I was just watching the replay of Bauer’s strikeouts and it is impressive how late his pitches break. It looks like some of the pitches break just as they reach home plate. While watching the video I also had a fantasy of a 2022 starting rotation of Bauer, Gray, Castillo, Greene and Mahle. It won’t happen but at least I can dream.