When the Braves take the field Monday in Atlanta against the Reds, they will do so sitting atop the NL East by themselves.
Thanks to the Joey Votto's walk-off grand slam against the Nats and with the Braves walking into St. Louis and sweeping the World Series champs, Atlanta has sole possession of first place in the NL East. It's the latest in the season the Braves have had first place since September 6, 2010. The Reds are 2.5 games out of first in the NL Central with a 17-16 record and arrive in Atlanta for a brief two-game series.
Votto is Cincinnati's 225 million-dollar man, signing a 10-year extension right before the season, but he and Jay Bruce headline a Reds offense that has been disappointing. For a team that plays its home games in a hitter's park, Cincinnati's .236 batting average is 13th in the NL with an OBP right at .300. Votto and Bruce have 15 of the team's 27 home runs, while Brandon Phillips has not had the kind of production one would expect out of the cleanup spot, hitting only .252 with a .650 OPS overall. Third baseman Scott Rolen is on the DL with a shoulder strain, but Todd Frazier has proved to be an adequate substitute thus far, hitting .310 in 14 games.
The pitching, on the other hand, has been more respectable with a 3.34 ERA and has issued the third-fewest walks in the NL with 91. With their free-agent closer Ryan Madson requiring elbow surgery, Sean Marshall was asked to fill the void and has recorded five saves despite a 4.50 ERA in 12 innings. Johnny Cueto has been the ace of the staff, posting the NL's second-best ERA at 1.12 although his FIP sits at 3.01. One of the newest Reds, and former Braves minor-league pitcher J.J. Hoover had done well so far out of the bullpen, allowing only one run in 7.1 innings since his debut April 25.
Pitching matchups and Reds roster after the jump.
Monday May 14, 7:10 p.m. ET
#40 / Pitcher / Atlanta Braves
Feb 09, 1990
|2012 - Randall Delgado||2-3||6||6||0||0||0||0||33.2||32||17||17||3||15||31||4.54||1.40|
#34 / Pitcher / Cincinnati Reds
May 03, 1986
|2012 - Homer Bailey||1-3||6||6||0||0||0||0||34.2||40||23||19||6||13||24||4.93||1.53|
Tuesday May 15, 7:10 p.m. ET
#15 / Pitcher / Atlanta Braves
Jul 14, 1975
|2012 - Tim Hudson||1-1||3||3||0||0||0||0||18.0||17||10||9||1||5||13||4.50||1.22|
#47 / Pitcher / Cincinnati Reds
Feb 15, 1986
|2012 - Johnny Cueto||4-0||7||7||1||0||0||0||48.1||39||7||6||2||8||31||1.12||0.97|