Joey Votto JOHN SOMMERS II/GETTY IMAGES SPORT FIELDING Nobody in the National League caught the ball better than the Cincinnati Reds, whose .988 fielding percentage tied for the league lead with St. Louis and Arizona. Their 76 errors were only one off the pace of the Cards and D-Backs. The infield is secure all around with Votto (a career .993 fielder), Phillips (.988), Zach Cozart at short and steady fielder Todd Frazier at third. The infield may get some help, as manager Bryan Price likes to implement a lot of shifts. In the outfield, Hamilton’s blazing speed will help efficient corner outfielders Ludwick and Bruce, who ranked second in fielding percentage (.991) and third in the NL in outfield assists (13). Catcher Devin Mesoraco is better known for his offense but knows the staff. STARTING PITCHING The starters were a big reason the Reds won 90 games. They were the only rotation to throw more than 1,000 innings, fired 17 shutouts (the most for a Reds staff since 1973), and were top five in ERA, fewest walks and opponent batting average. That was with ace Johnny Cueto missing nearly three months and making just 11 starts, only two of which came after June 28. While they’ll miss Bronson Arroyo, Mat Latos and Homer Bailey, who re-signed for $100 million over the off-season, are studs, although both were hurt during the spring. Lefty Tony Cingrani and righty Mike Leake fit the mold as dependable innings-eaters at the back of the rotation. RELIEF PITCHING When Reds starters did relinquish the ball, the bullpen slammed the door shut. No one slammed the door more emphatically than All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman, who converted 38 of 43 saves, striking out an NL-high 112 in 63 2/3 innings. He survived a scare, getting hit in the face by a line drive in spring training and there will be question marks on his return. Formerly Chapman’s setup men, and temporarily the closers-bycommittee will be the rubber-armed trio of J.J. Hoover (a team-high 69 appearances), Sam LeCure, and Alfredo Simon all of whom made more than 60 appearances, with ERAs under 3.00. Veteran Manny Parra threw to a career-best 3.33 ERA. The pen will get even stronger once powerful righty Jonathan Broxton and lefty Sean Marshall return from injury. MANAGING Bryan Price, the man in charge of developing all this Reds’ pitching wealth since being hired as Dusty Baker’s pitching coach in 2010, will now be in charge of the entire team, replacing Baker, the thirdwinningest manager in franchise history. It will be his first time on the hot seat, but he knows the talent in the clubhouse and is respected by the players. GM Walt Jocketty seemed relatively content with the hand he had — not pursuing free agents Shin-Soo Choo or Bronson Arroyo and trading away catcher Ryan Hanigan, but he has a winning track record and can heat up the phone lines in a hurry should he deem it necessary.
2014 Chicago-North Gameday HQ
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