Back Reds in Early Game vs Padres

Rainman M.

Thursday, August 10, 2017 1:59 PM UTC

Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017 1:59 PM UTC

The Reds are favored against the Padres in a match-up featuring two young starting pitchers with a lot of potential. Today’s early game wraps up a four-game series in Cincinnati.

San Diego Padres vs Cincinnati Reds

Neither lineup has ever faced the other team’s starting pitcher. But the Reds have, offensively speaking, more to boast going into today’s series finale. Joey Votto extended his hit streak last night to 14-games. Zack Cozart’s return to the lineup from a short DL-stint has also been helpful. He is the only Red, besides Votto, with a BA over .300.  Both have contributed to the Reds’ average of just over 7 runs per game through their first 3 games against the Padres.

Dinelson Lamet (6-4 5.12 ERA) starts for San Diego.  The rookie has been hit-or-miss. He has been shelled by some very good lineups on the road, but recently has had the fortune of facing some slumping teams. He is enjoying a streak of 3 consecutive starts with an ERA of 3 or lower. Lamet relies primarily on a fastball-slider combo. He does have a sinker and change up available to him, but he has been able to throw neither with consistent success.  He has thrown a lethal changeup, that generates an element of surprise with its change of velocity and elusive sinking movement, but it is a pitch that will only be useful to him when he matures into a more experienced pitcher Even though he has not yet developed much variety in his pitching arsenal, he is able to test batters by throwing his pitches in the more hittable parts of the strike zone. Lamet’s fastball blazes at an average of 95 mph. He adds good spin and movement to this pitch, so that batters not only struggle to keep up with its velocity, but they struggle to track it as well. He is confident enough to vary the location of his heater and to change the batter’s eye-level by pounding it both up in the top of the zone and down in the bottom. His other primary pitch is a slider. He throws his slider tight, with not so much movement in either direction as other pitchers’ sliders. But, his slider, which averages about 9 mph less in velocity than his fastball, complements his fastball by creating an effective change of pace. His slider is his go-to pitch with two strikes and it generates a lot of whiffs. He loves to go back-door with his slider by working the lower right corner of the plate. Even though he has this consistency in location, he remains unpredictable by also often throwing a fastball with two strikes. Batters do not know whether to expect a 95 mph heater or an 85 mph slider with a tight break. Lamet possesses a pair of high-quality pitches, but does walk a relatively high number of batters. Because he too often starts behind in the count, he can struggle at times to be efficient and last a long time in games. He’ll look to help out a Padres bullpen that has been strained and tested due to the trade of Ryan Buchter and Brandon Mauer, overuse, and the move of their only really reliable reliever, Brad Hand, into the closer’s role.

Luis Castillo (2-5 3.64 ERA) counters for Cincinnati. The rookie has been tested by facing a lot of the most dangerous lineups once or twice. Nevertheless, unlike Lamet, he has not experienced that bad outing, in which he had to leave before the 5th inning. He has developed more tools at his disposal than Lamet. To left-handed batters, he relies on a fastball-change-up combination. His fastball blazes at an average of 97 mph and enjoys some sinking action which induces opposing batters to ground out. His changeup averages about 12 mpg less than his fastball and creates an effective change-of-pace. It, too, possesses some sinking action. Being a ground ball pitcher is a useful attribute in Cincinnati, where the altitude helps turn pitches from fly balls into home runs. He uses his change-up aggressively by locating it on the inside of left-handed batters.  This aggression enhances the perceived velocity of his changeup because batters need more time, mechanically speaking, to react with their hands in order to reach a pitch’s inside location. His change-up's horizontal movement also helps him expand the strike zone. A batter may think that his changeup will land for a ball, but then it tails towards the plate for a strike. With this pitch, he also tends to work the lower parts of the strike zone, in order to tease batters into thinking that it will be a strike, when it eludes their bats by sinking beneath the strike zone.  So, to left-handed batters, Castillo uses the real velocity and movement of his live fastball as weapons, but also the perceived velocity, horizontal and vertical movement, and location of his changeup.  With right-handed batters, Castillo likewise varies the location of his blazing fastball by placing it in different parts of the strike zone. But instead of a change-up, he more often relies on a slider that, like Lamet's, is most effective on the bottom right corner of the strike zone. His slider is very tight, but, like his changeup, creates a difficult change of pace and late vertical movement that eludes the bats of opposing hitters. Hitters are able to hit his fastball hard, but only when they make contact with it. His slider and changeup are effective not only in themselves, with their change of pace and late ground-ball inducing movement, but in that they help his fastball out by throwing batters out of rhythm when they are bracing for his heater. Castillo, like Lamet, can struggle with command. He’ll look to do a better job of throwing strikes than when he walked a season-high 5 batters in his last outing. But, his stuff should help him generate a lot of whiffs and ground balls against a slumping Padres’ offense.

The Verdict

The Padres have lately been cooling off with an average of just over 3 runs in their past 4 games. Their batting numbers also plummet in the daytime, unlike those of the Reds. A fly ball pitcher like Lamet will likely not be at his best in the high-altitude on a warm day in Cincinnati, where hitters should his launch his pitches with higher exit velocity. He has not been giving up home runs lately, when he has been pitching in pitchers’ parks with spacious outfields, but the Reds could slug him in Cincinnati. I like Castillo today because he is more battle-tested than Lamet and matches up well against the Padres’ lineup, which is slumping. Statistically speaking, the Padres are at their worst against ground ball pitchers. Their numbers against pitches with 97+ mph velocity are also well-below league average. The Reds also have a fresher bullpen to support Castillo. Michael Lorenzen has given up just 1 hit in 3 innings pitched vs the Padres and Wandy Peralta is a strikeout machine who, like Lorenzen, should be fresh enough to pitch. The Reds are picking things up offensively and match up well against Lamet as a high-velocity fly ball pitcher on our MLB Picks.

Free MLB Pick: Cincinnati Reds ML (-135)
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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