Series preview: Boston Red Sox (52-65) @ Cincinnati Reds (60-58)


May 7, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia (15) forces out Cincinnati Reds right fielder Roger Bernadina (15) at second base during the fifth inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

For the second time this season, the Boston Red Sox will face off against the Cincinnati Reds in an inter-league matchup. The Red Sox won both games in the two teams’ previous series at Fenway Park and once again hold some momentum going into this matchup. Let’s take a look at how things may play out in this series.

Pitching Matchups

Game One: Joe Kelly (2-2, 3.86 ERA) vs Mat Latos (4-3, 3.12 ERA)

  • Joe Kelly just moved away from the National League Central after the Red Sox acquired him from St. Louis in the John Lackey trade; however, in his second start for the Red Sox, he’ll be facing his second NL Central team in the Reds. Kelly only has a 3.86 ERA in eight starts this season (he missed significant time due to a hamstring injury) but his first start for the Red Sox, against his former team in the Cardinals, was impressive as he allowed just a run in seven innings, and he’ll be looking to post a similar performance in Cincinnati. Like Kelly, Latos has missed time with a myriad of injuries this season, but even when healthy has had an uncharacteristic season. While his 3.12 ERA is strong and roughly in line with his career 3.33 mark, his strikeout rate has dropped to 5.7 per nine innings as opposed to 8.1 in his career. This should be an interesting matchup between two solid pitchers, both of whom have something to prove through the rest of this year; for the sake of bias, however, I’ll give the Red Sox the edge in this game.

Game Two: Brandon Workman (1-6, 4.45 ERA) vs Homer Bailey (9-5, 3.71 ERA)

  • In the second game of this series, we’ll see a matchup of two big Texas right-handers as the Red Sox will face Homer Bailey, one of the better power righties in the league. Bailey got off to a rough start to the season, posting a 6.15 ERA in April, but has been better lately and has a stellar 1.61 ERA in four second half starts. For the Red Sox, it will be Brandon Workman, who is cementing himself as a back-end starter with a solid-but-unspectacular year for the Red Sox. However, the matchup between the two pitchers isn’t particularly close and I predict that the Reds will even this series at a game apiece.

Three to Watch

Boston Red Sox

  • Jackie Bradley Jr. is the midst of a horrific 0-35 stretch at the plate; however, it hasn’t affected his defense as he made multiple spectacular plays over the weekend. With the Red Sox out of contention, Bradley should be starting every game in center field, and we should be watching him this series to see him break out of his slump. And even if he can’t do that, he’s incredible to watch in the outfield.
  • Edwin Escobar was promoted from Triple-A Pawtucket after Boston’s 19-inning loss on Saturday to give the Red Sox a fresh arm and is currently in the bullpen. He has been a starting pitcher throughout his Minor League career and will likely stay in that role for the foreseeable future but, if the Red Sox need a few innings out of the bullpen, he may make his MLB debut as a reliever in this series.
  • Joe Kelly, as I mentioned earlier, will be making his second start for the Red Sox. The next several weeks will be a good trial period for Kelly to prove that he can cut it as a starting pitcher for the Red Sox and a strong start in Cincinnati, a notorious hitters’ park, could go a long way towards accomplishing that goal.

Cincinnati Reds

  • Aroldis Chapman is a fearsome sight for any team when he enters the game, but with the Red Sox well out of contention, we can just enjoy the show. Chapman routinely hits 100 mph with his fastball and is having another dominant season as the Reds’ closer, striking out a remarkable 17.6 batters per nine innings. He’s one of the best closing pitchers in baseball and will be great to watch if the Reds hold a lead in the late innings.
  • Todd Frazier has become the focal point in Cincinnati’s lineup with Joey Votto‘s quad injury and Jay Bruce‘s disappointing 2014 season. In his third full season with the Reds, Frazier is putting his ample right-handed power to good use and is hitting .281/.340/.460 with a career-high 20 home runs. He isn’t a flashy player but you should remember his name as he is developing into one of the better third basemen in the game.
  • Billy Hamilton is known for his incendiary speed and he has put that to good use this season as he is the frontrunner for the National League Rookie of the Year Award. Hamilton is slashing only .268/.299/.394 but his base-running (43 stolen bases) and excellent center field defense make him a very valuable, and fun to watch, player.

That’s all for this week. Enjoy the series and keep reading BoSox Injection throughout the season!