After an abbreviated 60-game season, the Major League Baseball playoffs are here. In the National League Central, the Cincinnati Reds were one of four teams to make into the playoffs and will be traveling to Truist Park to take on the Atlanta Braves in a best-of-three series. Here is a closer look:
Being the higher seed, the Atlanta Braves will play host. The schedule:
- Game 1: Wednesday, Noon ET, ESPN
- Game 2: Thursday, TBD, TBD
- Game 3 (if necessary): Friday, Time TBD, TBD
2020 Regular-Season Records
- Cincinnati Reds: 31-29
- Atlanta Braves: 35-25
Given the nature of the shortened season with teams only playing opponents in their region, these two did not play. In 2019, it was the Reds who edged out the Braves in the win column in their season series, 4-3.
Cincinnati Reds 2020 Stats
Despite a strong finish, the Reds still remained one of the worst teams in terms of scoring runs, ranking 28th overall at just 4.05 per game. While Eugenio Suarez (15), Nick Castellanos (14), Joey Votto (11), and Jesse Winker (12) all hit double-digit home runs, only Winker (.255) hit above .230 amongst that group. Over the last week, though, second baseman Mike Moustakas has turned it up a bit, hitting .300/.286/.750 with a couple of home runs, four runs batted in and two runs scored.
While the offense may struggle, the starting pitching has been lights out, as the Reds’ staff ranked ninth overall with a 3.93 ERA. Trevor Bauer, the Game 1 starter, was phenomenal, going 5-4 with a 1.73 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, and striking out 100 in 73 innings. Luis Castillo (4-6, 3.21 ERA, 89 strikeouts) and Sonny Gray (5-3, 3.70 ERA, 72 strikeouts) were also solid.
The bullpen has its own trio of solid arms, as Amir Garrett (1-0, 2.45 ERA), Archie Bradley (1-0, 1.17 ERA with Reds), and Raisel Iglesias (eight for 10 in saves, 2.74 ERA) give the Reds a formidable lineup. The bullpen should help shorten the games for the Reds if their starters run into trouble.
Atlanta Braves 2020 Stats
Offensively, the Braves come into this series as the second-best team at scoring runs, averaging 5.80 runs per game. It doesn’t hurt when you have powerhouses like NL September Player of the Month Freddie Freeman and hot-hitting Marcell Ozuna. Throw in the likes of Ronald Acuna Jr., and this is a scary lineup.
Defensively, the Braves were middle of the pack, ranking 15th in runs allowed per game at 4.80. Luckily, they have one of the best starters at the top of their rotation in Max Fried, who went 7-0 with a 2.25 ERA, 1.09 WHIP. and struck out 50 in 56 innings. Unfortunately, after him, it becomes a little suspect, as the Braves don’t have the rotation depth they would like.
With their rotation lacking, the Braves will ask a lot of their bullpen, and luckily, they have some decent arms. A.J. Minter (0.83 ERA), Chris Martin (1.00 ERA, 0.61 WHIP), Darren O’Day (1.10 ERA, 0.80 WHIP) and Shane Greene (2.60 ERA) have been solid. At closer, Atlanta has relied on Mark Melancon, who has converted 11- of-13 opportunities and has a 2.78 ERA and 1.28 WHIP.
- Game 1: Trevor Bauer (5-4, 1.73 ERA) vs. Max Fried (7-0, 2.25 ERA)
- Game 2: Luis Castillo (4-6, 3.21 ERA) vs. TBD
- Game 3: Sonny Gray 5-3, 3.70 ERA) vs. TBD
The Braves come in as the favorite to win this series with a moneyline of -150 while the Reds are at +120.
In terms of winning the World Series, the Braves are tied for the second-best chances in the National League at +850. The Reds currently have betting odds of +2500.
Wild Card Pick
I actually like the Cincinnati Reds. The combination of Bauer, Castillo, and Gray is one of the best in the majors, and the Reds have been rolling, winning 11 of their last 14, which makes them dangerous.
While Fried is dominant, the rest of the rotation for the Braves is suspect. In an upset, take the Reds at +120 to win the series.