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Cincinnati Reds

September Spin Zone

Jeff

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© Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

With the month of September here, and the regular season coming to an end, here are some things to look forward to with the Reds.

Billy Hamilton: He’s got his batting average to it’s annual point of “could he make the leap next year?” He sits at .244 on the season and has hit .264 since May 1st. His .312 on-base during that timeframe is nice to see. Those clamoring for a starting outfield devoid of Billy may be overruled by hope for future improvement, yet again, in 2019.

Jose Peraza: Some say he has not shown that he can be the every day shortstop for the Reds moving forward, but I disagree. While I will concede he has not shown the caliber of defense Reds fans were accustomed to with Zack Cozart, Peraza has been a revelation at the plate. He has curbed his strikeout rate to just above 10% and has the best isolated power of his career at .115 (which says he gets an extra base hit better than one out of every 10 hits. Comparatively, Joey Votto has a .133 ISO this year).

Scooter Gennett: The man just keeps on trucking. While there was a moment we thought he might hit a slump and sink below a .300 batting average, he bounced back in a big way. He claimed that average up to .320, which leads the National League and is fifth in the majors. The Reds will have a serious decision to make during the offseason, and I am not sure which way they are leaning. Gennett has proven to be a fan favorite and a good ball player. I’d bet on him receiving an extension if owner Bob Castellini makes the final decision.

Eugenio Suarez: Remember when the Reds signed him to an extension before the season and every Reds fan was just a little leery of it? How do you feel now? It is so nice to have this guy locked up long-term. I could run up the numbers, but if you’re reading this, there is a good chance you already know them. His jersey will be a target of mine this holiday season.

Joey Votto: Joseph Daniel is slightly worrisome. As I mentioned under Peraza, his ISO is at .133 which is just about half as much as it normally is. He still has the typical Vottoian OBP above .400 (currently .420) as he has finished below that threshold just once since 2008 (2014). Offseason-wise, he is under contract until 2023, so I’m pretty much penciling him in as retiring a Red.

Tucker Barnhart: His average is lower than last year’s .270 (.254, currently), but so is his batting average on balls in play (.291 this year as opposed to .312 last). That decrease in luck has not affected the rest of his numbers, though, as he sits on the precipice of 10 home runs and has a career-high walk rate of 11.4%. His defensive wins above replacement of 1.0 (a composite stat of the defensive prowess of a player) ranks second in the Major Leagues for catchers. The Reds have one of the better signal callers, in the game today.

Scott Schebler: Can he stay healthy? He has shown that he can hit well, just about anywhere in the lineup, and he has shown he is a defensively-serviceable outfielder. The problem is availability. He’s missed time on two separate occasions this year. He will be the 2019 Opening Day right fielder for the Reds, but it feels like they will need a good fourth outfielder…

Phil Ervin: …which is where my guy comes in! Despite a bit of a mini-slump, Mr. Magic has played well in his cup of coffee in the Majors. He has laid a base from which to improve on with a solid .348 OBP and, according to FanGraphs, he has produced 3.9 runs above the average MLB hitter. He’ll need to work on brining down the strikeout rate (currently at 20%) and improving his throwing accuracy, but he will be the Spring Training favorite to land the fourth outfielder spot, and may push Billy for everyday work.

Luis Castillo: Consistency, consistency, consistency. He’s still green, but looks like he will finish strong for the second-straight year. He has more quality starts (eight) than he does implosions (two) in his last 10 and has 57 Ks. He looks like the number two for next year, and may be the middle of rotation piece for the Reds (hopefully) forthcoming run of winning beginning next season.

Anthony DeSclafani: He’s been this year’s staff ace. Though not always dominant, he is mostly good, as his 3.99 xFIP will attest. He has gotten slightly unlucky with a career-high home run-to-fly ball ratio of 18.8% which is six percent higher than his last full season of pitching, in 2016. Also, a concern for him is durability. He is a solid number two, or three (depending on how active the Reds’ front office is in the pitching market, this offseason).

Sal Romano: Big Sal has looked, at times, like the back of the rotation innings eater that the Reds wanted out of him. He was unceremoniously moved to the bullpen after just a pair of rough starts, and may not get another chance, this year, to start. He has allowed just a run and a hit in 3.1 innings of relief while striking out a batter in each appearance.

Tyler Mahle: His exile to Louisville seems to have lasted longer than most fans thought whenever he was initially sent down. I’d expect to see him before the end of the season and hope that he gets one more start. He showed enough talent to lead me to believe that once he figures out this adjustment, he will be a fine rotation pitcher, moving forward.

Michael Lorenzen: Honestly, I think he is where he needs to be, the bullpen. Lorenzen works great as the chameleon reliever. If you need him in a tight, eighth-inning spot, he’s there. If you need him to eat up some innings after the starter falters, he can do that. Heck, if you need a home run, he can do that too. I like “Swiss army Lorenzen” and that should totally be his nickname.

Raisel Iglesias: Trade talks are sure to arise this offseason, and if they blow the Reds away, then sure, do it. But don’t just give him away. This front office needs to keep that Aroldis Chapman trade plastered to the wall as the quintessential failure of this rebuild. Thankfully, in the grand scheme of things, it was just a team trading away a closer, so it didn’t derail the rebuild, but it surely didn’t help it, either. Good closers are wasted on bad teams, but the Reds don’t figure to be bad in 2019. That needs to be take into account when it comes to deal or not to deal Iggy.

Lucas Sims: Give me more Lucas Sims!

Brandon Finnegan: Why happened to this guy? The Reds have been baffled by his sudden collapse this year and I’m not sure the light at the end of the tunnel is there. In 67.2 innings at Triple-A Louisville, he has a 7.05 ERA and has walked over five batters per nine innings. With non of his pitches eclipsing 92 MPH, I find it hard to believe he will turn things around any time soon.

I may continue this sort of post into the offseason, especially as transactions kick into gear after the playoffs. Let me know what you think! Tell me where you agree, and, definitely, tell me where I’m wrong. I’m wrong a lot.

Follow @LockedonReds and @jefffcarr on Twitter as well as @lockedonreds and @lockedonreds_jeffcarr on Instagram for more Reds content.

Jeff has spent his entire life around sports. From playing baseball and golf in high school to traveling with college softball, volleyball, and men’s basketball teams as their media relations guy, sports have always been his focal point. He’s pumped to be bringing Reds content to the Locked on Sports Podcast Network!

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Cincinnati Reds

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

Clay Snowden

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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.

Pitchers:

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.

 

Catchers:

Rocky Gale

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.

 

Infielders:

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.

 

Outfielders:

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.

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Cincinnati Reds

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.

Jeff

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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.

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Cincinnati Reds

The Cincinnati Reds Optimal Lineup

Let’s look past the Opening Day Lineup to the lineup the Cincinnati Reds could have, if everything is going right.

Jeff

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There will be many things said/written about the Opening Day Lineup and what that should like for the Cincinnati Reds. With the first full team workout happening Monday, let’s take a look at what the lineup should look like if things are going well for the Reds, this season. I’m going to exclude positions for this experiment and you’ll see why.

  1. Shogo Akiyama – Ideally, Shogo will be getting on base much closer to the clip he posted in September than the one he did in August of last year. If he does this, he will be producing what the Reds hoped he would when they made him the first Japanese-born Cincinnati Red.
  2. Jesse Winker – He broke out in a big way in 2020 and was the Reds best hitter. There’s no reason to think that won’t, at the very least, continue and probably will even get better.
  3. Eugenio Suarez – He should be the Reds best hitter and I believe he will regain that title in 2021.
  4. Mike Moustakas – Moose has always been a run driver-inner and, if things are going well he will continue to do so.
  5. Nick Castellanos – he could be the third hitter, but it would be an amazing season, indeed, if he gets on-base at a higher clip than Geno.
  6. Joey Votto – this isn’t meant to be an insult, just realistic. I’ve seen and heard takes putting him in the three-spot. That’s a great idea in 2017. Now, any power should be considered a bonus with the main expectation of him being an on-base catalyst for the bottom of the lineup/turning over of the lineup.
  7. Nick Senzel – him being down here is more a hope that the top six indeed prove worthy to be top six. This is also hoping he’s healthy enough to play everyday, or almost everyday, and build up enough momentum to produce at the level he is capable of. Also, the not labelling defensive position thing is because he should be in the running as a shortstop option, but it sure feels like that’s not the case. Before you say, “Jeff, he’s not a shortstop…” who on this roster is? Get the best eight (nine if the NL miraculously gets the DH) in the lineup and worry about defense later. That’s pretty much how this roster is built, anyway.
  8. Tyler Stephenson – in a few years, he should be hitting in the middle of the order. In 2021, let’s keep the pressure on low and watch him thrive in the box.
  9. Pitcher (again, we’ll reassess if the players and owners ever get together and figure this out before the season begins, but we aren’t holding our breath).

This lineup could be pretty good…maybe. As fans we can hope, the folks who run the Reds should not lean on that. The lineup I propose should only be if each player is performing to the level that is expected of him. More than likely, this lineup will not happen, because it is doubtful every single bat bounces back in 2021.

 

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