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Cincinnati Reds

Bullpen Southpaws: Amir and Who?

Clay Snowden

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The days of the one batter, lefty specialist are a thing of the past. The MLB decided games were slow and a new 3-batter minimum rule was put in place.

Yep, the ole LOOGY is history.

Over the past several seasons the Reds have failed to have two “good” southpaws in the same bullpen. Amir Garrett has been nothing short of fantastic, it’s the other names that leave you wanting more. Wandy Peralta, Zach Duke, Kyle Crockett, and Cody Reed didn’t exactly scare opposing batters. Where will the Reds turn for lefty bullpen help?

The first option was already listed above; Cody Reed. Acquired as part of the Cueto trade, Reed was seen as a future rotation piece in Cincinnati. 2016 was ROUGH. 0-7 7.36 ERA in 47.2 innings. 2017 and 2018 had him up and down in the system still trying to put it all together. 2019 was rather promising for the 26-year-old lefty. Moved to the bullpen full time, his AAA stats were 2.61 ERA 25 K’s to 8 walks 1.016 WHIP before posting a 1.42 ERA and 7 K’s in 6 innings with the big club. Injuries cut his season short, but 2020 could be a breakout year. Coming in healthy and building off a strong season will hopefully lead to strong results. Once a top 100 prospect, the talent is there and if 2020 can be as good as 2019, the Reds might have something.

In October the Reds acquired lefty Josh Smith off waivers from the Marlins. Cincinnati will be his third team since September when Miami claimed him from Cleveland. 14 career games and 12.2 innings won’t suffice as much of a sample size. The 14 strikeouts standout, as do the 11 walks. At 30 years old he doesn’t fit the “young prospect” bill. In AAA he had 24 walks to 74 strikeouts. A strong spring could change things, but Smith is one of the bottom players on the 40 man.

In terms of prospects, the Reds have 3 lefty pitchers on their “top 30” list. Nick Lodolo (#2), Packy Naughton (#13), and Jacob Heatherly (#17). All are currently starters and not on the 40 man. Lodolo, the first-round pick from 2019, has the best shot of wearing a Reds uniform this season. The others will continue to develop as neither has reached AAA Louisville yet.

As it stands now, there is not a ton of competition for another lefty in the pen. Last year several lefties were brought to spring training as non-roster invitees in hopes of winning a spot. A name that many people have forgotten is Brandon Finnegan. A strange 2019 lead to him pitching in AA and then pitching in more of an “academy” setting. 13 games in AA resulted in a 6.60 ERA with 10 walks and 17 strikeouts. Not a lot of information about the situation was released.

Regardless of which lefty is the number two behind Garrett, he needs to get out both lefties and righties. The rule change is significant. Spring training is closer than we realize. Go Reds.

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Cincinnati Reds

Cincinnati Reds Alternate Site Game: April 6, 2021

The Cincinnati Reds are currently playing some games with their alternate team against other alternate teams. Clay Snowden had a chance to attend one and gives a report.

Clay Snowden

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78 degrees with a few clouds in the sky was the perfect day for the perfect game of baseball. My first in person game since 2019. I never knew just how much I missed it until I experienced the sights of sounds of the game for what felt like the very first time (again). Enough about me, let’s talk about the game. The alternate site Reds (that’s what we will call them) took on the Royals on Tuesday night. I want to provide a recap of the pitching and hitting while highlighting a few players.

 

Pitchers:

Riley O’Brien started for the Reds. Acquired in the Cody Reed trade, O’Brien is an interesting pitcher with some obvious upside. He has a lot to like but can struggle to find the zone at times. He struck out Bobby Witt Jr (One of MLB top prospects) while causing him to whiff on back to back strikes. He also gave up 2 home runs, 4 hits 4 runs in 3 innings while striking out 5. At times he simply over powered hitters and at times they squared him up. I still like him as a possible bullpen guy at some point.

Claiborne Snowden on Twitter: “Riley O’Brien (@RileyyOBrienn ) striking out one of the best prospects in all of baseball Bobby Witt #Reds https://t.co/YVQOpuIKby” / Twitter

Brandon Finnegan, who came out of nowhere this spring and impressed, looked pretty solid tonight. Struck a guy out looking while allowing 1 hit in one inning. His breaking stuff had some life on it. Doolittle, Perez, and Garrett will make it tough for him to find innings, but if injuries happen he’s more than capable of filling in. What a great story his comeback is.

Finnegan was followed by uneventful innings from R.J. Alaniz, Edgar Garcia, Hector Perez, and Ryan Hendrix. Garcia was hit hard and hit often. Perez has a fastball that is noticeably faster than others, but the radar gun was not on. Hendrix really pops the catchers glove, but location was an issue.

Claiborne Snowden on Twitter: “Finnegan (thread) https://t.co/a8pYMq0JuI” / Twitter

Batters:

Mike Freeman, a utility infielder brought over from the Indians, provided the only real offense tonight with a home run off a LHP (Lynch) to right center. In my mind him, Blandino, and Schrock all are battling for the same “utility infielder” position. Schrock was quiet at the plate tonight.

Mark Payton had a decent night at the plate. I really like his eye for the strike zone and patience at the plate. He had a strong single up the middle and worked a count full on another at bat. He had a ton of balls hit to him in center and he covered a lot of territory well. One ball he tried to rob a HR and it hit off of him and went over the wall. From my vantage point it looked like he might have helped that ball go over.

Jose Garcia made solid contact in his two balls put into play. I am far from a swing expert, but his swing looked a little off tonight. Maybe a little slow? I don’t know. He also swung and missed several times. A full year in the minors will do him well.

Claiborne Snowden on Twitter: “@TooKold2 https://t.co/YJgnyWHl7Q” / Twitter

The last player that caught my eye was Alejo Lopez. The 24 year old switch hitting infielder just knows how to hit. He has logged over 1,000 minor league at bats and has a slash of .297/.367/.746. In his two at bats he made great contact one leading to a single up the middle and one a sharp lineout to end the game.

Claiborne Snowden on Twitter: “Alejo Lopez single. A player who isn’t listed as a super high prospect but has been producing https://t.co/FydDrk2kjd” / Twitter

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Cincinnati Reds

Eugenio Suarez at Shortstop Makes the Cincinnati Reds Very Interesting

The Cincinnati Reds have announced that Eugenio Suarez will start Tuesday’s game at shortstop which opens up so many possibilities that make the Reds lineup dangerous.

Jeff

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The Cincinnati Reds dropped a Geno-sized bomb on Reds Country and the result is mass excitement.

We are all aware of the swings-and-misses with free agent shortstops the Reds front office had this offseason. In fact they struck out, if you’re counting, as there were three bonafide shortstops who all went elsewhere. So we’ve spent all Spring Training squinting our eyes to see if we could maybe see the fringe possibility of someone on this roster playing shortstop. Then the Reds stopped pretending.

Coming into camp, Eugenio Suarez just looked different. He was way more fit, trim, cut, whatever word for in-shape you want to use. You could say he was in the best shape of his life (many have). Geno planned for this, and management noticed. They’re reportedly been giving him more practice reps at shortstop and getting him comfortable fielding back there again. You don’t do that just for kicks, they were on to something.

Then Jose Garcia showed a continued lack of confidence at the plate, Dee Strange-Gordon proved there was a reason he hasn’t played shortstop, exclusively, in eight years, and Kyle Holder showed some skills but ultimately proved he needs more seasoning. Kyle Farmer has shown promise at the plate but the defense isn’t any sort of revolutionary development and he still shows more value as the do-everything guy off the bench. Insert Suarez.

Immediately some of you are thinking “Isn’t there a reason they moved him away from shortstop in the first place?” You could go that route, but let me answer your question with a question “Is there really a good reason to keep Jonathan India, or dare I say Nick Senzel (when Shogo Aliyama is healthy) out of the starting lineup for Kyle Farmer, or any of the other options they’ve tried at shortstop?”

This is the Reds thinking outside the box! This opens up so many possibilities with the lineup. With injuries, this is what the Opening Day lineup could look like:

CF Nick Senzel
LF Jesse Winker
SS Eugenio Suarez
3B Mike Moustakas
RF Nicholas Castellanos
2B Jonathan India
C Tyler Stephenson
1B Tucker Barnhart
Pitcher

I like that lineup. Now, there’s more than a chance that someone else plays first base and Tucker is the catcher on Opening Day, but this is the optimal lineup with Joey Votto on the COVID shelf. Once he is back, this lineup just looks dangerous:

CF Nick Senzel
LF Jesse Winker
SS Eugenio Suarez
3B Mike Moustakas
RF Nicholas Castellanos
1B Joey Votto
2B Jonathan India
C Tyler Stephenson
Pitcher

Here’s hoping the Eugenio Shortstop experience lots all year long!

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Cincinnati Reds

Monday Morning Manager: The Cincinnati Reds and Things Being What They Are

David Bell has too many outfielders, or does he? An injury to Shogo Akiyama could make lineup decisions easier, but could hurt the overall team potential.

Jeff

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Today on the Monday Not-Morning Manager I want to look at how the chips fall. There’s a line of thinking in sports that pertains to rosters. If you’ve got four players for three spots and it’s hard to differentiate between them, something always works out. Something beyond the making of a lineup card happens that makes making the lineup card slightly easier (so far as filling the three spots). One wonders if this is what has happened with centerfield for the Cincinnati Reds. 

Shogo Akiyama had an encouraging September, last year. He got on base roughly 46% of the time and became the leadoff hitter that Reds fans felt he’d be when he signed. He showed his prowess in the outfield and sound fundamentals that lead you to believe he can be a defensive asset. He looked to be showing he could bring value to the lineup. 

Nick Senzel has had a heck of a Spring. Hitting the ball all over the field, taking what the pitcher gives him, and making solid, powerful contact. He’s overcome some early spring mishaps on defense and is back to his athletic range in centerfield. When healthy he has shown to be an asset for the team. Barring some creative decision-making on the part of David Bell, he’s going to play in the outfield, come he’ll or high water. 

So what then? Shogo and Senzel cannot both start of Nicholas Castellanos and Jesse Winker man the corners. How does David Bell figure this out? That may be taken off his plate. 

Today (Monday) Shogo is getting his left hamstring examined. He left Saturday’s game after just one at-bat. If he is to miss any amount of time, the decision who the Opening Day centerfielder will be will be easy, but this isn’t a statement of relief. The best version of the Cincinnati Reds lineup includes all of Shogo, Senzel, Castellanos, and Winker and you’ll have a hard time convincing me otherwise. I want Bell and the Reds managerial staff to find ways to get all four of them in the lineup as much as possible. Hopefully, Shogo is fine and Bell will begin the 2021 with too many players rather than too few.

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