The Reds head to Pittsburgh for their first road series of the season. The Pirates have started the season off hot but will be missing some familiar faces. This past offseason they traded away outfielder Andrew McCutchen and starting pitcher Garrett Cole.
These trades were met with heavy criticism in Pittsburgh as some fans believe they did not get enough in return. The McCutchen trade was an especially hard pill to swallow, even though his production was starting to decline. The Pirates general manager has gone on record saying that they are not rebuilding, but I will be interested to see if they ship out other players if they are out of contention as we get closer to the trade deadline.
Although the Reds only won 68 games last year, they managed to go 13-6 against the Pirates. For whatever reason I like beating the Pirates more than any other team in baseball. I think part of me still holds a grudge against them for the wild card loss in 2013.
Here’s a preview of the four game series:
RHP Homer Bailey v. LHP Steven Brault
Steven Brault will be the Pirates emergency starter this Thursday after pitching three scoreless innings out of the bullpen last Friday. Brault allowed one walk, two hits, and three strikeouts. This start was originally supposed to go to Joe Musgrove (prospect received in the Cole trade), but he is on the DL with a muscle strain.
This will be Brault’s 12th start in the majors. Homer Bailey is coming off a great performance on Opening Day where he only gave up four hits and three walks in six innings of work. The lone run he gave up was on what should have been a double play to end the inning.
RHP Luis Castillo v. RHP Trevor Williams
Despite walking five batters and only striking out one, Trevor Williams recorded a win in his first outing of the season. He went six innings and didn’t allow a single run. Williams managed to hold right-handed batters to a .225 batting average last season.
Luis Castillo is coming off a tough outing against the Nationals. He gave up six runs over five innings of work but only issued one walk. I’m not too concerned by his last outing and look for him to bounce back against a less powerful lineup in Pittsburgh.
RHP Sal Romano v. RHP Chad Kuhl
Chad Kuhl allowed eight hits in his last outing but managed to pick up the win against the Detroit Tigers. He really helped himself by not allowing a single walk over 5.2 innings. The Pirates were a bit worried about Kuhl coming out of spring training where he posted a 10.06 ERA with nine walks in seventeen innings.
Sal Romano threw 34 pitches and allowed a two-run home run in the first inning of his last start but still managed to give the Reds a quality start. He walked four and allowed four hits over six innings and only gave up two runs. Sal admitted that the only pitch working for him in his last start was his sinker. Hopefully he can get his other pitches straightened by the time this game starts.
RHP Tyler Mahle v. RHP Jameson Taillon
Jameson Taillon is probably the Pirates most talented starting pitcher and is starting to live up to the hype. He struck out nine batters in his last start while walking none. Don’t be surprised if Taillon is the ace of this staff by seasons end. Tyler Mahle is coming off a dominant outing vs the Cubs. He struck out seven batters and only issued two base on balls and one hit over six innings. Tyler benefits from having outstanding command, something other young starters for the Reds lack.
As mentioned earlier, Reds killer Andrew McCutchen is gone. This lineup still has the likes of outfielder Gregory Polanco, infielder Josh Harrison, and first baseman Josh Bell. Bell has eight hits in twenty at bats along with two walks. The big first baseman is the most powerful bat in their lineup and is someone the Reds should get used to seeing for the foreseeable future. Former Bearcat Josh Harrison is the Pirates spark plug as their lead off hitter and is also off to a good start.
I am interested to see how the Reds starting rotation does the second time around. The offense will come around to put up similar numbers to last year, and if the starting pitching can keep them in games then this could potentially be a very fun summer of Reds baseball. I am also keeping an eye on Jose Peraza, who has had an awful start to the season. He was benched last year in favor of Scooter Gennett and it will only be a matter of time before he sees the bench again if he continues his struggles at the plate this weekend.
Under the Radar Prospects for the Cincinnati Reds: 4 Names to Know
Here are four players you may not already be aware of who could be building their prospect status for the Cincinnati Reds
Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, Jose Garcia, and many other names highlight most “Reds prospect list”. But who are some other names to watch for? So much time and focus goes towards the top 30 guys, but several organizational players are starting to blossom. Let’s look at 4 names to keep an eye on that are not on the top 30 prospects.
Alejo Lopez 2B AA (25 years old .373/.447/.458 .326 wOBA)
Anyone who’s followed me on Twitter knows my love affair with Alejo Lopez. The Lookouts leadoff batter is so fun to watch. He hits everywhere he goes. A career .302/.373/.757 slash line will show that. He simply always puts the ball in play and has enough speed to steal some cheap hits (10.6% K rate 88.5% contact rate). His glove plays well enough, but his power doesn’t. 7 career home runs in 1254 at bats, but there’s enough of a hit tool to keep him interesting. You’ll see in this video how he just pokes the ball and get’s the ball in play.
Reiver Sanmartin SP AAA (25, AA stats: 18 innings 0.50 ERA 23 K’s)
Sanmartin was the extra piece acquired in the Sonny Gray deal a couple of years back from the Yankees. The lefty has steadily worked his way through the system and just got the call up to AAA Louisville. He has an interesting arm angle which helps with deception and K numbers. He’s been a starter his entire career, but with the number of high-end starter prospects ahead of him, sliding to the bullpen could be the next move. The Reds have Doolittle (FA after 2020) and Amir in the pen with Perez, Finnegan, Osich, and Diehl as organizational depth. I will be watching closely to Sanmartin this year.
Leonardo Rivas SS AA (23, .375/.490/.550 16.3% BB% 20.4 K %)
The switch-hitting SS was acquired from the Angels in the Rasiel Iglesias trade last winter. Only 23 years old, he’s still young but has plenty of experience (1445 at bats). He has speed (89 SB) and has a career .383 OBP. The Reds need an answer at short. Garcia looks like the answer for 2022, but he’ll need a back up and the organization needs depth. Rivas doesn’t project to be a star, but the only other “prospects” at short in the organization in AAA are Errol Robinson and Alfredo Rodriguez.
Dauri Moreta RP AA (25, 2.08 ERA 12 K’s 8.2 innings 2 BB)
Moreta career numbers look good but not great. However, his 2019 (and so far in 20201) looked really good. 2019: 2.35 ERA 64 K’s to 9 Walks in 57.1 innings. He has a fast past pace, quick set delivery. His strikeout to walk ratio is good enough to play. With the amount of arms the cycle through a bullpen each year, Moreta could be looking to earn a spot in 2022, or at least a chance.
Other names to watch:
Lorenzo Cedrola, Evan Kravetz, James Proctor, Daniel Vellojin, Braxton Roxby, Eduardo Salazar, Quinn Cotton
Cincinnati Reds Previous Shortstop Targets: How They Are Doing
The hole at shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds has yet to be filled by anyone, this season. Looking at who they didn’t sign, this past offseason, would any of them have been much better? One guy would have…
Every day that goes by we remind ourselves that the front office told the fans “we are working on improving the shortstop situation”. Well, that didn’t happen. So far we have seen the likes of Suarez and Farmer man the position and it’s leaving fans wanting more. Suarez has a -11 OAA (outs above average, a defensive stat) and Farmer has a 1. No one expected them to be gold glovers, but their bats would pay off! RIGHT?! Suarez is slashing .150/.228/.358 while leading the league with 65 K’s but does have 10 HR, good enough to be a 52 OPS+ player. Farmer’s line is better than Suarez, but still an ugly .219/.299/.316 63 OPS+. Would the rumored offseason SS option have helped the Reds?
Andrelton Simmons (.244/.333/.328 2 HR 0.7 WAR 92 OPS+ 8 OOA)
Simmons signed a 1 year/ $10.5 million dollar contract with the Twins. That’s not a cheap deal for a glove first guy, but the Twins thought they were legit contenders. The twins have fallen off but Simmons defense hasn’t. Eight OOA is number two in the league for shortstops behind Nick Ahmed. His offense has been fine, and if the Twins continue to lose he could be an attractive trade piece at the deadline.
Didi Gregorius (.229/.266/.364 4 HR 74 OPS+ -0.6 WAR – 6 OOA)
Many fans wanted Didi likely because of his former ties to the organization more than his outstanding play on the field. His career numbers show mostly hit or miss seasons, and the Phillies gave him 2 years/ 28 million. YIKES. Honestly, with that contract and a declining player, I wouldn’t want him on the 2021 Reds.
Jonathan Villar (.223/.304/.384 4 HR 5 SB 94 OPS+ 0.3 WAR -1 OOA)
Villar was rumored to be a Reds during spring train but ultimately signed with the Mets to a 1 year/ $3.5 million contract. This deal had ended up being a great value considering how injured the Mets and and how Villar can fill in at other positions. As a first place team, he likely remains with them this season. At the very least he could have been the replacement for Blandino and an upgrade there.
Marcus Semien (.286/.349/.536 2.4 WAR 143 OPS+ 8 SB 3 OAA)
This is the only one I’m beat up over. The Blue Jays plucked Semien for 1 year/ $18 million. A disappointing 2020 after a near MVP 2019 lead to a strange market for Semien. The Blue Jays capitalized. He’s been a good defender while also hitting very well. He’s been primarily a second baseman in Toronto, but he would be the perfect SS for the 2021 reds.
In conclusion, the Reds missed out big time on Semien (so far). I think they dodged a bullet with Didi, while Villar and Simmons would be better, I’m not kicking myself over either one. The Reds need to get better at SS if they want to contend this year. My next article: Who could help.
The Top 10 Recent Cincinnati Reds Debuts as Starting Pitchers
With Vladimir Gutierrez set to bed on Friday on the mound for the Cincinnati Reds, let’s look at some guys who have debuted as starting pitchers for the Redlegs.
Vladimir Gutierrez has officially gotten the call and will make his Major League debut on Friday at Wrigley Field. This got me thinking about some recent debuts, as a starting pitcher on the mound, for our Redlegs. Since I am a man of great brevity, here’s the last 10 Reds starting pitcher debuts, ranked in order of how good the debut was.
1.) Amir Garrett
Remember 2017? You probably have blocked most of it from your memory as the Reds were horrible, but six of the 10 debuts on this post happened that year. At the top of this list is a man who now hails from the bullpen (which tells you how much you can learn from a pitcher’s debut). Garrett came up to face the hated St. Louis Cardinals on April 7th, 2017. He tossed six shutout innings while striking out Kolten Wong, Jhonny Peralta, Yadier Molina, and the opposing pitcher, former Red Mike Leake. AG allowed just two singles and two walks as the Reds went on to win 2-0. According to the game score metric, that was his best start. As we know, he would be moved to the bullpen later that year.
2.) Tim Adleman
The Red who pitched the most innings in 2017 made his debut a season before that and pitched pretty well. He tossed six innings of two-run ball in Pittsburgh as the Reds beat the Pirates 6-5. Adleman didn’t factor in the decision, but he did strike out six while walking two and allowing three hits, including a homer to Gregory Polanco. Adleman has traveled overseas and back again, since his two years with the Reds, and currently is on the roster in Louisville.
3.) Cody Reed
The promise that was this southpaw, and cornerstone of the Johnny Cueto prospect haul, began to manifest itself (or so we thought) June 18, 2016. Reed pitched seven innings in Houston, striking out nine Astros on his way to a no-decision. He did allow four runs on six hits and two homers, which tempered excitement slightly, but Reed was up and going. He never really went, though, as control was always an issue for him. Five of his next nine starts would see the opposition rack up seven or more hits while he finished his first year in the bigs with a 7.36 ERA. A move to the bullpen seemed to resurrect some value, but he never really panned out like we hoped. He’s down in Florida, now, but not because he retired and moved south.
4.) Jackson Stephens
The first appearance of an obscure former Red! His debut was of the spot start variety against the Cubs, too (thought at Great American Ballpark instead of Wrigley). He pitched five innings while allowing three runs (all earned) on six hits. Though Jon Jay and Willson Contreras took him deep, Stephens struck out eight Cubbies on the day and the Reds won 5-3. And he got the decision. He was sent back down after that start and didn’t resurface until September of that year in the bullpen. Stephens lasted all of two seasons as a member of the Reds and currently is not on a roster for a MLB team. Ironically, his debut was just a smidge better than our next guy…
5.) Luis Castillo
La Piedra just barely makes the top-5 recent MLB debuts with his five innings in our Nation’s Capital. June 23, 2017, Castillo allowed two runs on a pair of solo homers to Brian Goodwin (!) and Anthony Rendon, as well as three other hits, while striking out five. He also issued five free passes on the game. I wish I could say he’s never done that again, but he actually has done it six total times (the most he’s issued in a game were six in Houston on June 17, 2019 in a game that he got the win). We’re just hoping he figures out whatever it is he hasn’t figured out yet, in 2021, as the Reds need him at his best.
6.) Tyler Mahle
His first start didn’t set the world on fire, but Mahle has certainly come around since then. On August 27, 2017, Mahle debuted at GABP against the pirates and pitched five innings and allowing three runs. He managed to strike out five, but he issued four walks and allowed four hits. What’s interesting is he got three more starts that year, two of which he did not allow a run in his time on the mound. He’s been the Reds best pitcher in 2021, thus far.
7.) Tim Melville
Who? You heard me. Now you’re going to look up this guy and the next guy on this list and it might be debatable, but Melville actually had a positive Win Probability added for this start, so that’s why I give a four-inning outing the nod over a five-inning variety. April 10, 2016, Melville tossed four innings at GABP against the pirates and allowed just a solo homer, as far as the scoreboard goes. Now, he did give up five hits and four walks, but managed to tip toe around those and also strike out five. He would pitch two more games as a Red and total five more innings.
8.) Robert Stephenson
That’s right. Tim Melville beat out BobSteve. The dude who, I swear I remember this, people are comparing his prospect value to Stephen Strasburg. Well…that didn’t work out. His first start, though, wasn’t horrible. It just wasn’t very good, either. He pitched five innings against the Phillies allowing four runs (three earned) on six hits, two of which were homers, and a pair of walks. Cedric Hunter (who I would never have ever remembered anywhere) and Ryan Howard (no, not the Dunder Mifflin temp) took him deep. For all his hype, Stephenson managed just one strikeout (Odubel Herrera) in his debut. He’s trying to resurrect his pitching career in the only place where pitchers probably hate more than GABP, Coors Field.
9.) Rookie Davis
The one guy you might remember from the Aroldis Chapman trade (what a farce) debuted to…less than ideal results. He pitched three innings against the Phillies, at GABP, and allowed four runs on five hits. The Reds did win that game, though, which is why he’s not last. Davis struck out the very first bater he faced (Cesar Hernandez) but then promptly flipped the good vibes as he allowed a home run to Daniel Nava (his first of two that day off Davis) the very next dude up. Davis did get a few more chances, though he never pitched more than five innings (and he only got to five once) and was done as a Red after 2017.
10.) Sal Romano
Big Sal didn’t have the beginning he was hoping for. April 16, 2017, Sal pitched against the Brewers at GABP and was busy. He only tossed three innings, but he threw 82 pitches as he walked four, allowed three hits, to of which were home runs, and three runs (two earned). He was sent back down after the start and didn’t get called back up til July. He is now in the Yankees farm system, but there will always be the moment where he and I had a connection at GABP. On June 19, 2018, Sal had what was probably the best start of his career. He pitched seven scoreless innings against the Tigers, allowing four hits and four walks, while striking out six. As he was walking off the mound in the middle of the seventh he looked up toward where I was standing and clapping, at the back of section 127. There were multiple empty rows in front of me, so no one was directly between his line of sight and myself. I decided to take my hat off and tip it toward him. He then responded by doing the same and pointing it directly at me. This happened.
Here’s hoping Vladimir Gutierrez ends up toward the top of this list.