The Cincinnati Reds (44-30, second in NL Central) have headed out west on an eight-game road trip and are set to take on the NL West-leading Arizona Diamondbacks (39-33) in a three-game series starting on Friday night at Chase Field in Phoenix.
The Reds are playing well overall, but they need to improve offensively to complement the solid work of their pitching staff.
Cincinnati’s pitching staff is tied for first in the majors in WHIP (1.18), third in strikeouts (617) and opponents' batting average (.239), fourth in ERA (3.35) and sixth in saves (22).
Its offense is in the bottom half of the majors in batting average (.251, ranked 16th), tied for eighth in strikeouts with 579 and is 13th in OPS (.724). Some positives are that the Reds are third in walks (267) and ninth in RBI (316).
The Reds are 18-16 on the road this season while the D-backs are 19-15 at home.
Cincinnati is 6-4 in its last 10 games and Arizona is 4-6.
The Reds hold the second-best record in the majors, but enter the series 3.5 games behind the NL Central- and major-league-leading St. Louis Cardinals (47-26).
Friday, June 21 at 9:40 p.m. ET
Johnny Cueto (4-0, 2.08 ERA) is 3-0 in his last four starts, giving up five earned runs on 13 hits while striking out 19 over 26 innings of work.
Saturday, June 22 at 7:15 p.m. ET
Mike Leake (7-3, 2.64 ERA) is 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA and 12 strikeouts over 20 innings in his last three starts. According to MLB.com, he has “allowed one earned run or less in six of his last seven starts for a 1.15 ERA.”
Sunday, June 23 at 4:10 p.m. ET
Mat Latos (6-1,3.20 ERA) is 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA and 18 strikeouts over 18 innings in his last three starts. His 21-game streak of starts without a loss came to an end against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday, when he gave up three runs before retiring 14 of his final 15 batters.
Things to Watch on Offense
Joey Votto is still first in the majors in walks (54) and second in on-base percentage (.438). He is tied for fifth in the majors in runs scored (53) and leads the Reds with a .324 batting average.
Shin-Soo Choo is still second in the majors in walks (49) and third in OBP (.426).
Brandon Phillips leads the Reds and is tied for fifth in the majors in RBI (57).
Jay Bruce leads the Reds in home runs with 15, hitting five of those in the last seven days. He is fifth in the majors in doubles (22) and tied for 12th in RBI (50).
Who will win the series?
All stats courtesy of MLB.com