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The battle for the NL Central was intended to be highly competitive through the first half of the 2023 MLB Season. The defending champions in the Milwaukee Brewers were not surprisingly the team to beat despite losing some talent at the plate. The other teams in contention for the NL Central Divisional title were the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates, but they have been incredibly disappointing.
Only a few baseball experts believed the Cincinnati Reds were serious competitors entering the month of June, let alone the first half of the season. Unsurprisingly, the Reds were 27-33 through June 5, before the addition of rookie infielder Elly De La Cruz to their 40-man roster.
Since the addition of Cruz to the lineup, the Reds have won 23 of their 31 games leading to the 2023 MLB All-Star Break. The Reds are a much more efficient batting and fielding team this season since the addition of Cruz. He isn't the only young player creating a huge impact this season as the Reds have several players in contention for the NL Rookie of the Year.
The Brewers have won five of the seven matchups versus the Reds this season. Milwaukee won three games in a row before losing the final game the Reds played before Cruz was added to the lineup. In the final series before the start of the 2023 MLB All-Star Break, the Brewers won the series 2-1.
Despite losing five of the seven matchups this season, the Reds are going favorites of the entire series this weekend. DraftKings lists the Reds as the favorite in the spread and the moneyline. The over/under is set at 11 runs on Sunday.
The key losses of the Brewers' talent at the plate this offseason are noticeable midway through the 2023 MLB Season. The Brewers are one of the worst batting teams in the NL this season, as their lack of consistency and talent at the plate outside of their top-tier players have brought the team down. Through the first half of the season, Milwaukee ranks 13th in the NL in runs accounted for (384), 15th (last) in hits accounted for (695), 10th in home runs accounted for (97), fourth in walks accounted for (323), 14th in strikeouts encountered (846), and finally, last in the NL in batting average (.232), on-base percentage (.312), slugging percentage (.378) and OPS (.690).
Leftfielder Christian Yelich is one of the most efficient batters this season. Yelich leads the team in runs accounted (67), hits accounted for (93), double-base hits (19), RBIs (46), stolen bases (21), on-base percentage (.378) and slugging (.456). Shortstop Willy Adams is the team's most efficient power-hitter as he accounted for 16 home runs.
Milwaukee is a more efficient team at the mound this season as they rank seventh in ERA (4.10), sixth in fewest hits allowed (733), seventh in runs allowed (397), 11th in home runs allowed (114), seventh in walks allowed (291) and 10th in strikeouts enforced (743). Closing pitcher Devin Williams (1.89 ERA in 33.1 innings pitched) and starting pitcher Corbin Burne (3.94 ERA in 107.1 innings pitched) were selected to participate in the 2023 MLB All-Star Game.
Adrian Houser (3.68 ERA in 51.1 innings pitched) is set to start at the mound for the Brewers on Sunday.
It hasn't been a smooth road for the Reds in the past few seasons. Cincinnati only finished with a winning season twice since the conclusion of the 2013 MLB Season, with two of them coming in 2020 & 2021.
The Reds are looking to continue their turnaround as they possess a starting lineup full of young impact players. The top 12 batters on the team have accounted for at least 15 runs this season. All of them are younger than 30 years old. Three players for the Reds are currently ranked in the top 10 in odds for the NL Rookie of the Year award, including Cruz at #2.
The Reds have worked their way up to become one of the most efficient batting teams in the NL midway through the 2023 MLB Season. Cincinnati ranks third in the NL in runs accounted for (454), fourth in hits accounted for (795), fourth in double-base hits accounted (162), first in triple-base hits (19), first in stolen bases accounted for (112), third in walks accounted for (337), 11th in fewest strikeouts encountered (812), sixth in batting average (.257), second in on-base percentage (.337) and sixth in slugging percentage (.416).
While Cincinnati is a developmental great batting team, they are from developing and efficient in the pitching game. The lack of a developed bullpen has caused the Reds to lose games more than the potential problems at the plate.
The Reds are ranked 14th in the NL in ERA (4.87) midway through the season. They are also ranked 13th in hits allowed (835), 14th in runs (463), 13th in home runs allowed (120) and 13th in walks allowed (341). They have been sound this season in enforcing strikeouts as they are ranked seventh in strikeouts (768).
The Reds will be starting Ben Lively (3.83 ERA in 51.2 innings pitched), one of their efficient starting pitchers, at the plate against the Brewers.
The Brewers have had the Reds’ number through most of the season. In those previous matchups, the winner has usually gone to which team has the more efficient starting pitcher and a reliable pitching rotation. Milwaukee will have the edge in the starting pitchers matchups, but not by much. The key to the game will be determined by which batting team will be the most reliable, which easily goes to the Reds. Cincinnati has the youth and the momentum of their late push going into the 2023 MLB All-Star Break. There is more reason to believe that the Reds will be the victors of this new series and get set to even the series this season and all-time.
Owe Miller (.285)
Elly De La Cruz (.325)
Willy Adames (16)
Spencer Steer (14)
Willy Adames & Christian Yelich (46)
Jake Fraley (52)
Christian Yelich (.378)
T.J. Friedl (.380)
Christian Yelich (93)
Spencer Steer (90)
Corbin Burnes (7)
Ian Gabaut (8)
Devin Williams (1.89)
Alexis Diaz (2.03)
Freddy Peralta (107)
Hunter Greene (100)
Michael Hanich is a sports journalist/analyst with a wide variety of experience in the newspaper and digital field. He has a love for all sports. The leagues that he covers are College Football, the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, College Basketball (men’s and women’s), the MLB, Lacrosse, Volleyball, and the WNBA.More info on Michael Hanich
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