By Morris Phillips
With the home fans fed up with a leaky bullpen, and voicing that displeasure, the Giants are hitting the road. This could be good: none of the three teams–Reds, Phillies and Marlins–that the Giants are visiting have winning records at home.
Just what the Giants need to break out, and regain their 2021 form? Well, not so fast. Their opponents are all playing better baseball, and the Giants need to lift their game too. They’ve dropped 14 of their last 25 ballgames bringing into question whether they’re positioned to take advantage of a break in their schedule.
The rollercoaster Reds are the best example: after a horrendous 3-22 start to the season, they’ve been pretty good. On Thursday, the Reds wiped out the Cubs 20-5, their 11th win in their last 19 games.
“Splitting the series, especially against the Cubs in your division, gives the guys in the clubhouse some confidence,” said Cincinnati’s Kyle Farmer, who hit two home runs in the blowout. “Our lineup, we hit the ball really well today. We’ve got to keep carrying it on.”
“We haven’t had too many of those, and they don’t come around too often,” Reds manager David Bell said. “For us, those games can carry over.”
Entering Great American Ballpark less than 24 hours after the Reds drop a 20-spot can be intimidating. But thankfully, the Reds are a rebuilding club that scoring fewer than four runs per game on average and have hit just 37 home runs which ranks them in baseball’s bottom third. And no one’s seen this: the last time the Reds scored 20 runs was September 1999 when they were still in old Riverfront Stadium (Cinergy Field).
These Reds have a not-so-youthful core trying to establish themselves, along with veterans Joey Votto (.156 batting average) and Tommy Pham (.233) trying to regain their strokes. Infielder Jonathan India may be their most promising position player, but he’s appeared in only 11 games due to injury.
What the Giants are sure to notice is the Reds’ porous pitching staff which is allowing 5.71 runs per game and has already gifted their opposition with 56 home runs. Given that, the Giants should be well positioned, but there is the issue of the Reds playing better baseball of late.
The Phillies loosely constructed collection of veteran sluggers has held up defensively, but that hasn’t boosted their pitching staff, which is allowing more than four runs a game. Bryce Harper is injured and unable to throw and play defense, but he’s settled into his DH role for the next six weeks until his elbow heals up. J.T. Realmuto is another bright spot who routinely cuts down opponents’ running games. But overall, the Phillies have been in and lost too many high scoring games.
The Marlins look to be better, and they’ve been much more competitive, but at 18-24 few will notice the difference. What stands out is the team’s promising starting pitchers, and the pitching staff’s impressive 3.38 ERA. What ails them is their propensity to lose close ballgames, which explains why they’ve scored more than they’ve given up but have a losing record.
Former Athletic Jesus Luzardo is dealing with a forearm strain so that means a new face could emerge in the final game of the road trip. The Marlins are pondering bringing up their fourth-ranked prospect Edward Cabrera, who struck out 11 in six innings in his most recent minor league start. Prior to that, the Giants will have their hands full with Miami starters Elise Hernandez and Pablo Lopez.