The Cincinnati Reds (49-63) travel to The Big Apple to play the baseball team that isn’t always on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, the New York Mets (45-64).
The team formally known as the employer for Matt Harvey has not fared well since dispelling the Dark Knight. In fact, the two organizations involved in the trade have kind of gone in separate directions.
There have been so many numbers thrown out on the Reds, in regards to different phases of the season, but here’s one more. Since the Matt Harvey trade, Cincinnati is 41-36 while New York is 27-45. The Mets were sitting two games behind the Braves on May 8th with an 18-16 record, but now they are 17 games behind the first place Phillies.
The Red sent to New York for Harvey, Devin Mesoraco, hasn’t exactly taken to his new surroundings. Since donning blue, Mez has hit .228 with a .301 on-base percentage. He does have eight round-trippers with 25 RBIs and is healthy, though, so it isn’t all gloomy.
The Mets, as a whole, can’t hit. They’re last in the league in hits, runs, batting average, and OBP.
From the Reds perspective, they’re looking to bounce back after a tough series in Washington. The pitching actually held up strong, allowing just three runs per game, but the bats fell short when the games were on the line, as the Nationals won two-of-three. Cincinnati was 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position during their two losses in the Capital.
For the year, Cincinnati actually ranks second in the National League in runs scored and at-bats with runners in scoring position while ranking fifth in batting average with runners in scoring position (.258). In other words, the Nats’ series is an aberration.
Though he will be the focal point of the New York media, during this series, Matt Harvey is not scheduled to start against the Mets.
The series matchups are as follows:
Monday – Homer Bailey (1-8, 5.87 ERA) against Noah Syndergaard (6-2, 2.98 ERA)
Tuesday – Sal Romano (6-9, 5.12 ERA) against Jason Vargas (2-7, 8.23 ERA)
Wednesday – TBD against Jacob DeGrom (5-7, 1.85 ERA)
Homer’s last outing was definitely his best of 2018 as he pitched a complete game and allowed just a pair of runs. The bats didn’t back him up, though, as he was slapped with a loss, despite striking out six and walking just one. He’ll be up against Thor Syndergaard who allowed three runs on seven innings in a tough-luck loss to Washington his last time out.
Sal will be looking to improve upon his last start where he allowed four runs on 5.1 innings. He didn’t allow a walk, which was nice. Sal should figure into the 2019 rotation, as long as he continues to grow and gain some consistency. His opponent looks, on paper, like he’ll give up a few runs. Of course, now that I’ve said that, Vargas will probably twirl a gem against Cincy.
For the finale, the Reds have not announced their probable starter. The spot was Tyler Mahle’s, but he’s been sent to Louisville to get right. For what it’s worth (*cough* not much *cough*), I hope it’s Robert Stephenson. You may have heard, but he is tearing it up in AAA. BobSteve has a 2.87 ERA in 113 innings with a ratio of 10.75 strikeouts per nine innings. I don’t make the personnel decisions for the Reds, though, so who knows.
Going for the Mets on Wednesday will be Jacob DeGrom. For a pitcher with a sub-2.00 ERA, he has a baffling win-loss record. Part of it can be explained by his help. Despite having the best ERA in the NL, Degrom has the third-worst run support at 3.41. So, if he tosses a quality start, then he’s handing the ball to a reliever with the score tied. We’ll see what the Reds can do with that in the finale.
The Cincinnati Reds and the 20 Pitch Limit
When it comes to quirky early Cactus League season games, there’s a lot to know. One this is the 20-pitch limit a manager can invoke on an inning his guy is getting clobbered in. The Cincinnati Reds have already done this.
This Spring has seen an interesting beginning in that teams have smaller rosters than normal (though still plenty of players to go around) and they can choose to play shorter games. One other added wrinkle of differentness is the ability of a manager to “throw in the towel” whenever his pitcher reaches 20 pitches in an inning.
The Reds have already taken advantage of this twice, both during the beat down at the hands of the Athletics. Sal Romano got the curtain pulled on him in the fourth inning while Shane Carl heard the music in the fifth. These don’t necessarily paint a larger picture, as of yet, but it is interesting to note.
Carle doesn’t factor into the equation that is the Opening Day roster, but Big Sal surely does. He is out of minor league options (meaning he’d have to clear waivers to be assigned a minor league team) and he has shown some flashes of talent in the past. He could be valuable depth for the Reds bullpen, so calling it quits after 20 tosses (which frankly were all a consequence of Nick Senzel misplaying a ball early in the inning) doesn’t mean he’s out, but it is something to watch.
We’ll keep track here on the blog for more 20-pitch tap-outs.
Cincinnati Reds Roster Breakdown: Non Roster Invitees
Let’s take a look at the non-roster invitees trying to make the Cincinnati Reds roster during this Spring Training
WELCOME BAAAAAAACK! The Reds kick off the 2021 season on Sunday with their first spring training game. As I do each spring training, I am going to take a look at the non roster invitees (NRI) and how they could impact the team this season.
R.J. Alaniz, Matt Ball, Cam Bedrosian, Jesse Biddle, Shane Carle, Josh Osich, Branden Shipley, Bo Takahashi
You might recognize a couple of these names. Alaniz has been around the organization the past couple of years and pitched 11.2 innings with the Reds in 2019. Biddle was a guy who was around last year, but the others are new. Carle (76.1 in), Osich (206.1 in), Shipley (100 in) have experience in the show with moderate results. Cam Bedrosian is the name to know here. The fact that he was signed on with a minor league deal is surprising. 277.2 innings with a 3.70 ERA has been a solid MLB pitcher. 2019 batters hit .207/.283/.336 and in 2020 they hit .196/.276/.255. His spin rate is gritty darn good honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a minor league deal that really is a promise on the roster. Think Jose Iglesias who was also a NRI a couple years back. This allows the Reds to delay their decision on making a 40 man roster move.
For a team that lost Rasiel Iglesias, Bradley, maybe Antone and Lorenzen to the rotation, Bedrosian will have a chance to really earn a legit role with this team. You don’t have to squint too hard to see a scenario where Shipley or Carle get innings this year.
Bittle and Osich are lefties that would have battled for the other LHP spot in the pen, but the signing of Doolittle bumps them to depth roles.
A 33 year old catcher with 37 at bats and a career .108 avg. Id say that there is not much to see here. Stephenson and Tucker are the one two punch and the offseason addition of Deivy Grullon will provide a younger depth option with a higher upside than Gale.
Cheslor Cuthbert, Dee Strange-Gordon (not listed on Reds roster yet)
Cuthbert isn’t a household name, but he does have over 1,000 at bats in the MLB. He had a decent season in ’16 with the Royals batting .274/.318/.413 and 12 HR, but he hasn’t shown enough to be a full time MLB player. Corner infield depth.
Here’s where I stand on Dee….If he is here to battle for a utility role, that’s fine with me. If he is here to be some variation of an answer at SS, we are in trouble. A 32 year old poor defender (who on the Reds isn’t at this point) who doesn’t have any power and doesn’t get on base. Yeah, he has stolen some bases. We all know speed is one of the first things to go when you age, and he still has some jump, but I don’t think it’s game changing speed at this point, and it’s useless unless he’s on base. I’m not high on Strange Gordan making an impact.
Nicky Delmonico, Tyler Naquin, Dwight Smith
I was worried about the Reds outfield depth. It’s a sneaky need, especially of Aquino doesn’t bounce back. This group of NRI is a group I am excited about. All have MLB experience and have had their moments. Delmonico had a nice (small sample size) rookie year with the White Sox in 2017, but has been worse each year since then. It’s the other two that catch my eye.
Dwight Smith has shown he has some pop in his bat. He is the type of player that you want to have in AAA ready to fill in if needed. Tyler Naquin is a guy I think could actually contribute to this team. We know 2020 was a small sample size, but look at the hard hit and exit velo. And his outfield jump/Outs above avg. fit in well with the team that doesn’t seem to care about defense.
He had a great rookie year in ’16, and has had moments since. .288/.325/.467 10 HR 19 2B in 2019 would be a good bench bat. The question is…is he better than Aquino/Heineman/Payton? Him and Payton are the two leftieis of the group. At the very least, I think he is great organizational depth, and I think his floor is a higher floor than the group listed above (maybe Aquino can make me eat crow there)
This list is different than most years. Not as many players listed, and no prospects. The number of players at Spring Training will be smaller than years past. Overall, I think theres 2-3 guys who could earn a role on the Reds 2021 roster.
Monday Morning Manager: The Snell Effect
David Bell has many things he needs to go right in order to win games and get a contract extension. One thing he can control is a decision-making process that should not be made entirely analytically.
In case you lived under a rock last year (and that might be Truer than in any other year) then you know how the World Series went down with the Rays falling to the Dodgers. You may even know about Blake Snell’s improbable removal from Game Six when he was absolutely on fire. This is something David Bell cannot mess up in 2021.
Ok, so in the grand scheme of things, I’m talking about the correct managing of the bullpen and rotation in pressure situations. Most people will look at the Game Six managing of Kevin Cash and see two things: a man sticking to his system that got him there and a man over-thinking things. Neither thoughts are incorrect.
In this day and age of baseball, most people understand statistical evaluations on pitchers favoring removing a starter before they pitch to the opposing lineup for the third time in a game. Well, maybe, because the numbers are a bit different in 2020, small sample size, and all. In fact, the Reds pitching staff held opponents to a .599 OPS in 253 plate appearances the third time through the order, last year. That may be a smoke screen, though, as the 2019 Reds pitching staff (largely similar to 2020) allowed an OPS of .892 in 799 PA. That’s a bit of a more reliable sample size, which would leave me to believe a starter pitching a third time through the order isn’t the most favorable idea.
Also something David Bell must consider is the overthinking aspect. In this Player’s Tribune post by the man, Blake Snell, himself, he points out the immense effect that simply seeing someone warming up in the bullpen had on him. Now, you can say “Well, that shouldn’t have been an issue, he should have sucked it up and pitched!” The dude is a human being. If you saw the person management was likely to replace you with if you messed something up at your job, are you going to just keep on keeping on with no thought to look over your shoulder? If you are, you might be a Jedi. Most of us mere mortals have problems with worrying about what might happen if things fall apart. Baseball players are not totally immune to this, either.
In order for Bell to garner a contract extension, he will have to adeptly manage a pitching staff that has talent, but also has human egos. Just because the numbers say that a decision should go one way, the human element must also be factored in. Last I checked, theres no button for that on a calculator, which leaves it up to his own decision-making skill.