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Cincinnati Reds

How Jose Peraza’s season changes the future

Jacob Rude

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At the start of the season, even the most optimistic of Cincinnati Reds fans saw the shortstop position as one of need moving forward. The Reds themselves saw it as a position of need, signaled by moving Nick Senzel to shortstop heading into spring training.

The incumbent, Jose Peraza, had flashed just enough potential to warrant another chance, but it was coming with caveats. It would likely be his last chance as an everyday starter if he continued at his current rate, and that was only made possible because the Reds were in the midst of a rebuild. Peraza did himself no favors, going hitless in his first 14 plate appearances of the season.

Fortunately, though, Peraza not only busted out of his cold streak but has become an important enough member of the rebuild that the Reds can look at their future differently.

Since the opening four games of the season where Peraza had one hit in 16 plate appearances, the 24-year-old has a wRC+ of 102, meaning he’s been a slightly above average shortstop, a huge change from what the Reds thought they had.

If you zoom in even closer, since May 22, Peraza has a 121 wRC+ in 228 plate appearances. The only National League shortstops ranked ahead of Peraza in that span are Trevor Story, Chris Taylor and Jean Segura (and technically Manny Machado now).

Peraza showed flashes like this in seasons before. In 2016, he finished with a 103 wRC+. However, that came in just 256 plate appearances on the season and also saw Peraza have an unsustainable .361 BABIP, meaning he was getting an awful lot of good bounces on balls in play.

This season, that BABIP (batting average on balls in play) is at a far more reasonable .312, which indicates Peraza’s not just getting lucky but is having an objectively good season.

The change is pretty evident when looking at his batted ball percentages. Peraza’s soft-contact percentage is down over eight percent and that has translated almost directly to hard-contact percentage, which is up over eight percent. Statcast backs up the FanGraphs data as his exit velocity is up and his launch angle has improved.

On top of his batting, the other big difference for Peraza has been his on-base percentage. He has always struggled at drawing walks in the majors, holding a career 4.2 walk percentage.

This season, he’s sporting a .333 on-base percentage and over the previously-mentioned sample size since late May, his on-base percentage of .383 is tops in the majors among shortstops in that span. To his credit, Peraza’s walk percentage is at a career-high 5.4 percent this year and over the aforementioned span, it stands at 7.9 percent.

All that prefaces Peraza’s defense, which has been up-and-down this season. Overall, though, Peraza grades out to an average to slightly above average defender which, given his position, is more than acceptable and something the Reds would be pleased with.

This season is the best Peraza has played at short and is also the most he’s played at the position by a large margin. Considering it’s arguably the hardest position to field, it’s an across the board solid season for Peraza.

It’s also important to point out that Peraza turned 24 at the start of the season and is in his third full-time season in the majors. That makes him 13 months older than Nick Senzel, for context. He’s younger than the large majority of players who make their way to the majors on a normal schedule. There’s no reason not to believe he won’t continue to improve.

Because of his play, the Reds can afford to keep him in the lineup so he can develop. No longer is the shortstop position seen as an area of need, which is incredibly valuable for a small market team. Having a prospect emerge in a position of need like Peraza has can drastically change the rebuild. Instead of needing to spend valuable and finite cash in free agency on a player, the team can take that cash and apply it elsewhere.

It’s more money the Reds can spend on a frontline starter, the team’s most glaring need. Or it’s more money they can spend on an outfielder. Or it’s more money the team can use in a buyout of Homer Bailey, if it comes to that. But when small market teams get unexpected returns from prospects, it has drastic effects on the franchise. Peraza’s season appears to be more than just a flash in the pan and it could have big effects on the team’s future.

Jacob is a journalist and lifelong sports fan across the board. From soccer to basketball to baseball, he enjoys watching his favorite team’s break his heart. After finishing up at Indiana University and majoring in journalism, Jacob is now a sports editor during the day and an online journalist at night.

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Cincinnati Reds

Phil Ervin Lifts Reds to Victory

Jeffery Carr

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© David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

A monster shot from one Phillip Ervin gave the Cincinnati Reds (53-69) a walk-off, extra-innings win over the San Francisco Giants (61-62) by a score of 2-1.

The winning run for the Redlegs, Ervin’s third home run of the year came in his second at-bat of the night.

Phil pinch-hit for Preston Tucker in the eighth inning. He grounded out in his first at-bat and then remained in the game in left field.

Coming into tonight, Ervin was 0-for-1 in extra-inning at-bats, reaching base once via walk and once via hit-by-pitch. It is his second career homer with the game tied, but the first time he hit a round-tripper leading off an inning. Despite only batting .238 against right-handed pitchers, this is his fifth career homer off one.

A Few Notes From Friday’s Game:

Ervin’s walk-off homer on Friday was the first of his career.

This is the 23rd game in which Phil has played that he did not strike out in.

Ervin is now batting .287 on the year with an OPS of .808

Phil and the Reds will face Madison Bumgarner and the Giants tomorrow night. First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m.

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Cincinnati Reds

Reds set for Three Against the Giants

Jeffery Carr

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© David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Reeling from being swept at home by their in-state rivals, the Cincinnati Reds (52-69) welcome the San Francisco Giants (61-61) to Great American Ballpark.

The Reds will be glad to see the schedule move past the Indians. In the six games against their in-state rivals, Cincinnati allowed 50 runs. Yup…rub your eyes, shake your head, and check the numbers. The Cincinnati Reds allowed 50 runs in six games to the Cleveland Indians. See also, roller coaster season.

This is the time to really figure out what kind of depth the organization has. Yeah, Scott Schebler and Jesse Winker are on the DL. Yeah, Joey Votto is playing on one leg (don’t get me started on that). So now you find out what guys like Dilson Herrera, Brandon Dixon, Mason Williams, and my guy, Phil Ervin, got.

The problem is, they have an interim manager whose posture is one of auditioning for a job in 2019. That’s not an indictment, by the way. I mean, the man wants to get a paycheck past this season, it’s understandable, but figuring out what’s in the tank and winning games are not the same thing.

Both Sal Romano and Robert Stephenson threw 1.2 innings, apiece, in their last outings. Sure, they were pitching pretty terribly, but they need to learn what it is to fight through days when you don’t have it. Now, I hear you, and I agree with you, it was painful to watch, both days, but Sal said it himself “There’s nothing for me to take away from this outing.” That wasn’t him lashing out at Riggsy for pulling him so quick, he was just honest about the fact he didn’t have anything that day.

My point with all this is, even when things are tough, when the score is more of a hyperbole, leave the young guys in there to figure it out.

Anyway, enough ranting, let’s preview this weekend’s pitching matchups.

Friday at 7:10 p.m.

Anthony DeSclafani toes the rubber against Casey Kelly. Disco is coming off a superb outing against the Diamondbacks in which he struck out nine in seven innings of shutout ball. In fact, his last three starts look like this: two wins, 18.1 innings pitched, four earned runs allowed, and 16 strikeouts. These are the kind of numbers Reds fans want to see from Disco!

His opponent was supposed to be a sensational young pitcher named Dereck Rodriguez, but he was hurt in a benches clearing altercation with the Dodgers on Tuesday. In his place will be Kelly, the son of Reds bench coach, Pat Kelly.

A former first round pick of the Boston Red Sox, Casey Kelly has pitched in a pair of games this year for the Giants. He’s allowed one earned run on 6.1 IP while striking out three. He’s a straight-laced pitcher, serving hitters a steady diet of fastballs and curveballs, and has a sinker he mixes in, on occasion. His fastball velocity averages right around 93 with his curveball countering at around 82.

Saturday at 7:10 p.m.

Game two will see Matt Harvey square off against Madison Bumgarner. Harvey’s season is a fitting parallel to the Reds season, as a whole. After putting together an abysmal stretch of starts following the All Star Break, the Dark Knight turned in an impressive performance against Arizona. In seven innings of work, he allowed a pair of earned runs, five hits, one walk all while striking out seven. There are precious few days before the end of the waiver-trade deadline, so if he is traded away, this may be the last start Harvey has in a Reds uniform.

Facing him will be a Giant, both in terms of the team he plays for and his position amongst professional pitchers. Bumgarner hasn’t pitched a lot this year, due to injury, but he has been his normal self. He currently has a 2.71 ERA in 79.2 IP with 67 K’s. He’s doing a good job of keeping the ball in the park, having allowed just six homers this year.

Sunday at 1:10 p.m.

The finale will feature Luis Castillo pitching against Andrew Suarez. Castillo had a rough outing against the D-Backs, last time. He was saddled with the loss after allowing five earned runs on 5.2 innings of work. Castillo’s sophomore season has had lots of ups and downs, but his season ERA is inching toward the good, slowly as it currently sits at 5.04.

Suarez has put together a solid rookie year for the Giants. The 25-year old 4.40 ERA in 21 starts and has fanned 100 batters in 116.2 innings. He pitched six shutout innings at Dodger Stadium his last time out, but received a no-decision for his efforts. The Reds beat Suarez and the Giants back on May 16th when they scored five runs (four earned), on eight hits and a walk. Former Red Adam Duvall hit a three-run jack off Suarez in that game.

The Reds won one and lost a pair in that May series with the Giants. These will be the last three games they play against San Fran for the 2018 season.

As of this posting, Joey Votto had just been placed on the disabled list. Here’s hoping a speedy and full recovery for Joseph Daniel.

Keep tuned to Locked on Reds for your daily Reds fix and follow @JamesRapien and @jefffcarr on Twitter.

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Cincinnati Reds

Reds Swept by Indians at Home

Jeffery Carr

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© David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Despite making it dramatic in the ninth, the Cincinnati Reds (52-69) lost to the Cleveland Indians (69-51) 4 to 3. The Indians took the Ohio Cup 4 to 2.

The Rollercoaster Reds had runners on second and third but failed to score. The ninth inning saw Billy Hamilton make an interesting choice to run for home on a soft grounder to the first baseman for the first out, Scooter Gennett walk, Eugenio Suarez strike out (more on that later), and Curt Casali fly out.

The game was a struggle from the beginning.

Robert Stephenson didn’t get any better from his first start, he may have actually gotten worse. Dude had zero control of any of his pitches, erratically spraying the ball everywhere but the strike zone. Given a three-run lead from the first inning, Stephenson proceeded to come out in the second and throw first-pitch balls to the first four hitters, allowing two runs, and getting pulled before the end of the second.

Remember when he walked a Mets pitcher on four pitches? Yeah, he walked Indians pitcher Shane Bieber on four pitches, as well. Bieber had exactly three career at-bats before this game.

Cody reed, however, came into the game in the second and proceeded to insert his name into the discussion for pitching in the rotation the rest of the year. The box score will show a loss and two earned runs in 3.2 innings, but his night looked much better than that. He retired eight in a row before allowing a walk and a homer, consecutively, that gave the Indians a 4-3 lead. He worked quickly and confidently, the exact opposite of BobSteve.

Interesting Notes from Wednesday’s Game:

Despite being talked about in this space a bit, Jose Peraza is having a quietly good season. He had another multi-hit night on Wednesday, bringing his total to 33 multi-hit games. His average is now at .285. He’s hitting .288 from the leadoff spot with 57 hits and 31 runs scored.

Jared Hughes tossed an inning and 2/3 of perfect baseball. He struck out a pair in this appearance and managed to lower his ERA to 1.31. He has the second-best ERA among relievers with at least 50 IP, behind Milwaukee’s Jeremy Jeffress (1.29).

The Reds bench, as managed by one Jim Riggleman, was very active. In the bottom of the seventh inning Dilson Herrera pinch-hit for Hughes. This move left just Curt Casali on the bench…and there were still two innings left in regulation play. In fact, in the top of the sixth, Mason Williams was brought in as part of a double-switch when Hughes came in to pitch. He played for all of one out before Riggsy pinch-hit Brandon Dixon for him in the bottom of the sixth. Confused yet?

Eugenio Suarez had a night he’d just as soon forget. He struck out five times, twice on pitches that were, according to the Fox Sports Ohio strike zone, outside the zone. The fifth strikeout left Geno walking back to the dugout with a purely blank look on his face. Watch out for him on Thursday, man may hit 12 homers.

The Reds will get some rest on Thursday and be back at Great American for the weekend against the Giants of San Francisco.

Keep your eye on @lockedonReds and @jefffcarr on Twitter for all your Reds content.

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