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Cincinnati Reds

The Red Warriors Have Awakened

They’re just getting started.

Dave Pemberton

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© Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

As of last Sunday, the only exciting things the Reds had going for them was the amazing Opening Day and Puig trying to take on the entire Pirates organization. Outside of that the Reds found themselves on a seven game losing streak. Scoring runs for the team seemed nearly impossible.

What a difference a week can make. The Reds managed a four-game win streak until losing to the Cardinals, Sunday. On the week, they managed to sweep the Marlins and comeback Saturday night and beat the Cards. For these five games the Reds were able to knock in 31 runs. There team hitting has moved from dead last in nearly every category as a team to 24th overall in runs and OBP, and 25th overall in AVG in the MLB. The Reds pitching has remained steady with a team ERA of 3.21 and 6th overall in the MLB.

The only real rough part of this week came Sunday. For the first time all week the Reds pitching was getting obliterated. The only other bad news from today was Derek Dietrich leaving the game after being hit by a pitch. Hopefully he’ll just be day-to-day.

Everything else was good for the Reds this week. The starting pitching continued its dominance of opposing teams. Castillo is looking more like THE ACE of the future we had hoped for. Castillo has really stepped up his game, early on. Castillo’s control is unreal and nothing seems to frustrate him on the mound. Gray looked the same exact way in his start. There was some frustration that he was only able to throw four innings after a line drive ricocheted off his leg. Otherwise he looked untouchable. Tyler Mahle continues to impress as well. Mahle is going to make sending him down to Louisville a hard pill to swallow if he continues pitching like he is.

Anthony DeSclafani has been the opposite since his first outing. He’s had difficulty with locating his pitches resulting in 4 HR’s and a massive 7.43 ERA. I know that David Bell was set on the rotation before the season started, however, Disco still has two options. Depending on what happens between now and Alex Wood’s return, Mahle may earn himself a permanent spot in the rotation.

Even Tanner Roark managed his first impressive start. Roark showed real grit during his entire performance of 5.1 innings, Saturday night. Roark managed his way out of a jam nearly every inning managing. This while still giving up six hits and one walk.

The bullpen as a whole continued to improve this week besides Hughes and Duke. Hughes gave up 4 runs Sunday. However I’m confident in him returning to his 2018 numbers. Reds Media Relations posted he has had 102 appearances since his last 4 run outing and managed a 1.90 ERA in that time frame. Duke however really seems to remain a weak link. I was never a big fan of having eight bullpen pitchers, especially when your starting pitching, for the most part, has been stellar. Duke was signed as a free agent to be the “LOOGY”. He has failed tremendously so far. In 8 appearances he’s managed 4.1 innings and a 8.31 ERA. People, including myself, have to wonder how long the Reds will allow this to continue. Especially when they have Ervin, Senzel, and Cody Reed all itching for spots on the 25 man roster.

To focus on the bright side this week, the rest of the bullpen was locked down. Raisel Iglesias managed to get two scoreless saves to his name. Robert Stephenson continues to look like a man reborn. Stephenson, probably for the first time in his career, looks like a major league player. Wandy Peralta, Amir Garrett, Michael Lorenzen, and David Hernanadez were all impressive this week. I look for them all to continue their dominance.

The bats, which we all knew were going to be this teams strong point, finally came alive on Tuesday night posting 14 runs. They were able to provide comeback wins later in the game on Wednesday and Saturday. Everyone, including the bench players, had impressive hits (plural) this week. The standouts were Jesse Winker, Jose Iglesias, Eugenio Suarez, Dietrich, and Joey Votto. All of those guys were coming through in clutch situations with home runs or knocking runners in when we needed them most. The depth of this team will probably be what allows it to remain competitive more than anything else.

Many writers and fans had already written the Reds off after last Sunday. I believe Puig’s attempt to take on the entire Pirates roster awoke something inside this team. I am here to tell you this impressive week is just the beginning. There was and is no need to panic. The Reds currently sit at 5-9. I am very confident in the coming weeks we will see this team continue to impress us in almost every way possible. We’re just getting started.

I grew up engulfed in baseball. My grandfather had season tickets for the Reds from 1970 until 2002. I was raised in a neighborhood that was essentially the Sandlot set in the 1990's but with even more kids. We played from the minute we woke up until it was too dark to see the ball. Then we'd spend the night at someones house playing baseball video games, talking about baseball cards, or watching it on television. I idolized Barry Larkin as fielder, hitter, and leader. I was fortunate enough to play baseball through high school. Now I am a registered nurse, married way out of my league, and have two amazing kids that will exceed anything I ever do in this life. I am fortunate enough to have a Reds season ticket package with my close friends and family. The Reds ballpark is my second home. Baseball has provided me with some of my most treasured memories shared over four generations.

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Cincinnati Reds

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.

Jeff

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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. 

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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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