The Reds entered July a perfectly respectable 46-36, but that was good for only third place in the NL Central. Mostly, they were beating up on bad teams and losing to good ones:
Reds vs. Marlins, Brewers, Cubs, Mets: 24-5
Reds vs. everyone else: 22-31
Besides the four teams with the worst records in the NL, the Reds had a winning record versus just one club; they were 4-2 against the Phillies. They were 7-12 against the two teams ahead of them in the NL Central (the Pirates and Cardinals). They were 5-7 against AL teams.
Now the Reds have opened July 2-0 against a Giants team that’s also struggled of late, but one that happened to defeat them in the NLDS last year before going on to win the World Series. Bailey’s no-hitter was well timed, giving him his fifth win of the year after he went 1-2 in June. It’s his first win against a contender since he beat the Nationals way back on April 5, his first outing of the season. Maybe he had deserved a couple of more since, but he had struggled in most of his starts against teams currently in postseason position:
April 10 against St. Louis: 7 ER in 5 IP
May 1 against St. Louis: 4 ER in 5 1/3 IP
May 7 against Atlanta: 4 ER in 5 IP
May 30 against Cleveland: 7 ER in 3 2/3 IP
June 20 against Pittsburgh: 2 ER in 6 IP
June 26 against Oakland: 4 ER in 6 IP
That’s an 8.13 ERA in six starts against teams that would be in the postseason if it started today. The Giants don’t qualify, but beating them is a start. Doing so by hurling a second career no-hitter only makes it all the sweeter.
Here are the Cubs and Cardinals lineups for Game 1 of the NLDS in St. Louis:
CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
3B Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
2B Starlin Castro
LF Chris Coghlan
SS Addison Russell
C David Ross
SP Jon Lester
Jon Lester’s personal catcher David Ross takes the place of Miguel Montero behind the plate. Kris Bryant shifts back to third base after playing left field in Game 1, with Chris Coghlan coming off the bench to get a start in the outfield against a right-hander. Addison Russell bats seventh, which he did just 10 times during the regular season.
3B Matt Carpenter
1B Stephen Piscotty
LF Matt Holliday
CF Jason Heyward
SS Jhonny Peralta
RF Randal Grichuk
C Yadier Molina
2B Kolten Wong
SP John Lackey
Mike Matheny’s lineup for Game 1 is an interesting one. Jason Heyward is batting cleanup and playing center field, where he started just eight games all season. Stephen Piscotty plays first base, where he started just nine games. Yadier Molina is behind the plate, toughing his way through a significant thumb injury that’s sidelined him since September 20 and leaves him at much less than 100 percent now. Brandon Moss, Mark Reynolds, and Jon Jay are all on the bench.
Rookie left-hander Steven Matz hasn’t pitched since September 24 because of a back injury, but he’s on the Mets’ playoff roster for the NLDS and looks likely to start Game 4 against the Dodgers.
Matz prepped for a potential start by throwing 80 pitches in a simulated game Thursday and apparently experienced no issues. Even setting aside the health question mark Matz has started just six games in the majors, but he’s 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA and 34/10 K/BB ratio in 35.2 innings.
Matz is one of 11 pitchers on the NLDS roster, along with 14 position players. No big surprises.
Here are the Astros and Royals lineups for Game 2 of the ALDS in Kansas City:
2B Jose Altuve
RF George Springer
SS Carlos Correa
LF Colby Rasmus
DH Evan Gattis
3B Luis Valbuena
1B Chris Carter
C Jason Castro
CF Jake Marisnick
SP Scott Kazmir
Carlos Gomez remains out of the lineup with an intercostal injury, so Marisnick makes another start in center field after going 2-for-4 with standout defense in Game 1.
SS Alcides Escobar
2B Ben Zobrist
CF Lorenzo Cain
1B Eric Hosmer
DH Kendrys Morales
3B Mike Moustakas
C Salvador Perez
LF Alex Gordon
RF Alex Rios
SP Johnny Cueto
Royals manager Ned Yost sticks with the same lineup as Game 1, which isn’t surprising given that he trotted out the same lineup for basically the entire postseason run last year. Cueto gets the ball after Yost chose Yordano Ventura for Game 1 duties.