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.
Reds Lose and Bunting Stinks
The Cincinnati Reds (64-87) tested the fortitude of the fans who continue to pay them some form of attention as they got blasted by the Milwaukee Brewers (86-65) 0-8, Monday night.
Anthony DeSclafani (7-6, 4.92 ERA) continued his struggles as he allowed four runs on seven hits in five innings. The Brewers scored three runs in the fifth and four runs in the sixth, but, really, the one they scored in the third was all they needed.
Christian Yelich (4-for-4) became the first player in the history of baseball to hit two cycles in one year against one team.
The most the Reds threatened was in the fourth inning when Scooter led off with a single. A bunt into a fielder’s choice and another single later gave the Reds runners on first and second with one out and Disco up to bat. Yet another bunt was called, which successfully moved over the runners, but Billy Hamilton grounded out to end the threat. That’s it. The Reds were, largely, toothless from the batter’s box, on Monday.
Due to Yelich’s cycle and Scooter’s 1-for-3 performance, they both are now tied for the NL batting title at .318 with 11 games to play.
Fox Sports Ohio loved the Reds’ performance, so much, that the postgame interview on the field was courtesy of Fox Sports Wisconsin as they interviewed Yelich.
Real quick, because the thought is permeating my mind and I have to write about this. Bunting stinks. It was a “whoa buddy” thought whenever sabermetrics and Moneyball first started, but now there are numbers to back it up. Here is a run expectancy chart, as seen on FanGraphs.com:
|Runners||0 Outs||1 Out||2 Outs|
|1 _ _||0.831||0.489||0.214|
|_ 2 _||1.068||0.644||0.305|
|1 2 _||1.373||0.908||0.343|
|_ _ 3||1.426||0.865||0.413|
|1 _ 3||1.798||1.140||0.471|
|_ 2 3||1.920||1.352||0.570|
|1 2 3||2.282||1.520||0.736|
Quick explanation – the numbers above represent the average runs a team can expect based on the base runner situation, given the number of outs in an inning. Notice anything? The number is higher for a runner on first with no outs versus a runner on second with one out. This means that, if a sac bunt is successful, then it actually is more detrimental to a team’s run-scoring ability. That’s math, not an opinion.
The Boston Red Sox lead the majors in runs scored, with 799. The Red Sox also have the second-fewest sacrifice hits in the majors, with six. The New York Yankees are the second in runs scored at 763, but have just 10 sacrifice hits (5th least in MLB). The Cleveland Indians have scored the third most runs at 752 and have 22 sacrifice hits, which is more than double the Yankees, but still bottom half of MLB. The Reds have scored 672 runs, 127 less than the Red Sox, but lead the world in sacrifice hits with 47. Now I am no major league manager, I know this, but it just does not equate. Stop. Bunting.
The Reds and Brewers do it again tomorrow. I’ll be watching and tweeting (@jefffcarr) and also follow @lockedonReds, if you haven’t already done so. We’ll be with you, when the calendar turns to the offseason, so keep it tuned here!
Catching You Up on the Reds
The Cincinnati Reds (64-86) starting pitching allowed one run in three starts, but the Chicago Cubs (87-62) took two-out of-three over the weekend in the Windy City.
Luis Castillo (10-12, 4.52 ERA) showed another flash of ace stuff on Sunday in the lone Reds win. He tossed 6.2 innings of one-run baseball. He only struck out two, but he limited one of the best lineups in the NL to four hits. Castillo’s outing was indicative of the Reds’ rotation, as a whole.
Cody Reed, once again, made a start and didn’t get his first career win, though he didn’t lose either. He tossed five scoreless innings, allowing two hits and two walks, while fanning 10 Cubs. Manager Jim Riggleman decided to pull Reed after he threw 91 pitches, bringing in Sal Romano (7-11, 5.43) who allowed a single, solitary run, which was enough to beat the Reds.
Matt Harvey was the other tough luck start for Cincinnati, this weekend. He got a no decision after six shutout innings in which he struck out six and allowed just four hits. His quality start was smashed when David Hernandez (5-1, 2.65) allowed three runs in the seventh, earning his sixth blown save of the year. Fatigue may be playing a factor for Hernandez as he has a 6.30 ERA in his last 10 appearances. His ERA has climbed from 1.89 to 2.65 in that time span.
Baseball is a team sport, though, and the losses, while they can be pinpointed to an inning in each game, aren’t all on the relief pitching. The bats were averaging just a shade under five runs per (4.75) in their last dozen games, but were held to four runs, total, for the weekend, in Chicago. Cincinnati lived (four homers) and died (no other RBI) by the long ball, this weekend, with four solo shots hit out of Wrigley. Jose Peraza and Joey Votto continue the most unlikely home run race in the Reds lineup as they both hit their 12th on Friday, while Scott Schebler (17) and Phil Ervin (Seven) went yard on Sunday.
Scooter Gennett endured a 1-for-8 weekend and saw his average dip, slightly, to .318. He still leads the National League for the batting title, though, as Christian Yelich’s average dipped to .313. Scooter gets three more chances for revenge against his old team, coming up, so he may be able to bump that number up.
Speaking of what’s next, let’s take a look at the series with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Anthony DeSclafani has been sputtering, down the stretch this year and will look to flip the script in game one at Miller Park. Here’s a look at Disco’s rough stretch through his last five starts, courtesy of baseball-reference.com:
He’s given up quite a few hits over this span and most of these starts can be broken down into an inning, or two, each time where the opposition strings together some hits to blow the score wide open. His last start, he had a perfect game going through three, only to see the Dodgers slap two runs on in the fourth and four runs in the fifth. His season stats show that, due to his xFIP being 4.08, he pretty much has been exactly what his ERA says he is and isn’t getting all that unlucky.
He’ll be opposed by Wade Miley, whose just been a revelation for Milwuakee. In 13 starts, he has a 2.23 ERA with a 1.19 WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched). In 13.1 innings against the Redlegs, Miley has allowed just two earned runs while striking out 10.
Michael Lorenzen (3-1, 3.21) makes his long awaited return to the rotation in another 180 degree decision by the Reds, in 2018. Just a week back I recall hearing Riggleman say something to the effect of “We like what he gives us out of the bullpen” to a question of whether Lorenzen will start a game in 2018. Now, sure enough, here he is, a probable starter. Reminiscent of the team’s handling with Winker, and Harvey, and Senzel…anyway.
This is Lorenzen’s first start since in just over three years. His last one was against the Giants on September 16, 2015. His rookie year in the majors was the only year he pitched out of the rotation, making 21 starts and compiling a 5.45 ERA. He averaged right at five innings per outing but had an alarming 1.42 strikeouts per walk (78 Ks to 55 BBs). Granted, it was his first venture into the starting rotation, and most Reds fans think he has earned another shot, but the numbers do not support the revisionist history that some have ascribed to Lorenzen being a rotation stalwart. As we’ve said many times this year, though, let’s put him out there and see what he has.
His opponent on the mound will be Chase Anderson. The man thought by most to be the Milwaukee ace (except when Jimmy Nelson is healthy) has a 9-7 record with a 3.85 ERA. He’s not pitched more than five innings in any start this month, but he also hasn’t allowed more than two runs in any of those starts. Back on August 20th, he held the Reds to two runs on two hits (both home runs) in six innings enroute to his fifth win of the year. He is 5-1 in his career against Cincinnati.
Matt Harvey (7-8, 4.67) will look to continue the success he had in his last outing, and maybe get his record back to .500, in the series finale. He’s 1-2 in five-career starts against the Brew Crew, with a 5.26 ERA. His last outing, a memorable game of 2018 for both the Reds and the Brewers, he allowed five runs on 11 hits in four innings.
Opposite him will be future-Red (hopefully, maybe) Gio Gonzalez (8-11, 4.44). In two starts, as a Brewer, he is 1-0, having allowed three earned runs in 10.1 innings of work. In his last start, he got a no-decision, pitching 4.2 innings and allowing the three runs, against the Pirates.
Locked on Reds will keep you covered during the doldrums of September baseball. Check out @lockedonReds and @jefffcarr on Twitter for your Reds social media fix.
The 2018 Reds Will Miss the 2018 Dodgers
The Cincinnati Reds (63-84) dropped the series finale with the Los Angeles Dodgers (79-67) by an 8-1 score, Wednesday afternoon at Great American Ballpark.
Anthony DeSclafani (7-5, 4.80 ERA) failed to pitch at least five innings for the third-straight start. The Dodgers touched him up for six runs on five hits and three walks. Disco actually got out to a roaring start, retiring LA in order the first time through the lineup. It unraveled the second time around, however, following a Joc Pederson home run. He changed his strategy, trying to hit the corners, but failed, leading to multiple at-bats where the hitter was ahead. LA strung together hit after hit, leading to Disco getting pulled with two outs in the fifth.
Jose Peraza provided the lone fireworks for the Reds lineup with a first inning solo shot, his 11th of the year. Billy Hamilton added a double and a triple, but was stranded at third, both times, as the Reds gave the Dodgers free pizza (aka, the Reds struck out 11 times).
Scooter Gennett managed one hit in four tries, keeping his season batting average at .321.
The Reds finish 6-and-1 against the Dodgers in 2018. They have never gone an entire year undefeated against LA, so a win on Wednesday would have been historic, but all things considered, Cincinnati liked its matchups with their old NL West rivals. They hit .280, as a team, against the Dodgers, with 34 runs scored to go along with a team ERA of 3.14. The Reds racked up 63 strikeouts in the 63 innings pitched against the Dodgers.
Scooter will personally miss the LA pitching staff as he compiled 16 hits (.727 batting average) in five games played. He also had two homers and 10 RBI.
Also of note, all three former Dodgers (Scott Schebler, Jose Peraza, and Brandon Dixon) homered in the season series against their old team. Schebler even had a pair of dingers.
Luis Castillo dominated the pitching performances for the Reds in this season series. He started a pair of games, pitching 12.1 innings, and compiled 17 strikeouts. He won both his starts, allowing just nine total base runners (though they got at him with three homers).
The Redlegs hit the road again with an off day, Thursday. They will play a weekend series against the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs. We’ll see if they can play spoiler as the Cubs lead is razor-thin over Milwaukee.
Keep your eye on @lockedonReds and @jefffcarr on Twitter!