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Cincinnati Reds

The Reds are Back in Town

The Cincinnati Reds finally get a weekend series, at home, and it’s with Nick Senzel. Also, they face the San Francisco Giants

Jeff

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© Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Reds (13-18) are ready for their first weekend home series of 2019 as they welcome the San Francisco Giants (13-18) to town. More importantly, Nick Senzel is here!

After languishing in the minors for what seems like a decade (he was drafted in 2016), the Reds top prospect finally gets the call. He has already been announced as the starting centerfielder and batting second, in Friday night’s lineup.

For many of us who have clamored for him to be getting everyday reps since, pretty much, last spring, this will be a day long remembered. There are numerous articles on the many outlets with which you can get Reds news, but none more telling than C. Trent Rosecrans’ piece at The Athletic. C. Trent interviewed pretty much the entire scouting department responsible for drafting Senzel and they outline how they’ve pretty much had him on their radar since 2011 when he was a sophomore at Farragut High School in Tennessee.

You can look at his minor league numbers, if you want, but it’s the scout’s grades that are best served, in this case, as rarely do minor league statistics have any predictive correlation to major league success.

HitGamePowerRawPowerSpeedFieldThrowsFuture Value
55 / 7040 / 5555 / 5555 / 5545 / 5555 / 5560

As they break it down at fangraphs.com, 50 is Major League average, 60 is plus, and 70 is plus-plus.

His first big league taste will come at home against a team that is in the exact same spot as the Reds. The Giants not only share the same record, but also find themselves at the do-or-die potion of their schedule where if they do not get going now, they can about count themselves out of the race in 2019.

They even profile about the same. As a team they’re hitting .214 (second worst only to the Reds) and have an ERA of 3.72 (fourth in the National League).

On the hitting side, the Reds will need to watch out for Brandon Belt and Kevin Pillar. Both share the team-lead in homers (five) while Pillar sports 18 RBI and Belt is the only Giants hitter with an OPS+ above 100 (118).

Pitching-wise, for this four-game, wrap around series, just two Giants starters are listed.

Tonight the Reds will face Tyler Beede, a 25-year old righty pitching in just his third major league game (he pitched a pair last year). He allowed seven earned runs in 7.2 innings pitched, total, last year. He managed nine strikeouts, but also tallied eight walks and nine hits allowed. With that limited exposure, it’s worth looking at the scouting grades on him. They have a plus rating on his changeup, but everything else is at league average or below and doesn’t predict to improve much.

FastballCurveballChangeupCutterCommandFuture Value
55 / 5550 / 5055 / 6050 / 5040 / 4540

Saturday’s starter is a bit better. Dereck Rodriguez showed his potential for San Francisco last season when he finished the year with a sub-3.00 ERA (2.81) in 19 starts. 2019 has not been as kind, to start, for him, though, as he sports a 4.35 ERA in six starts and is allowing 1.45 home runs per nine innings. I got the chance to see Rodriguez pitch, in person, last season when he faced the Padres, in San Diego, and held them to one run in seven innings. Saturday may be a mixed bag for the Reds lineup.

With the other Derek on San Fran’s squad (Holland) currently on the shelf, due to a bruised phalange, that leaves two of Drew Pomeranz, Jeff Samardzija, and Madison Bumgarner to round out the four-game set. There’s one name I would like to see them avoid, there, and it doesn’t rhyme with Tomeranz or S’mores-ya?

UPDATE: Samardzija will be the Giants starter on Sunday and Pomeranz will be Monday’s starter, meaning Bumgarner will, in fact, be missed in this four-game set.

Samardzija (0.6) leads the Giants in WAR, according to baseball-reference.com, as he has a 2.53 ERA in 32 innings. In 90 career innings against the Reds, he has a 4.00 ERA, having allowed 87 hits (10 homers).

Pomeranz has pitched the least amount of innings (28.2) of any Giants starter (six starts). He has one career start at Great American Ballpark (June 25, 2016) in which he tossed seven innings of shutout ball for the San Diego Padres, allowing just three hits and fanning six.

On the bump for the Reds, will be Sonny Gray, Tanner Roark, Luis Castillo, and Anthony DeSclafani, in that order. I’ll be there to see Roark, in person, which I have not yet done, but I am most interested for Gray’s start. More so for how the team supports him than how he pitches. The only two games which he has pitched that the Reds have scored more than two runs, he has no decisions in.

This starts a stretch of 10 games that the Reds really need to win at least seven. If they can do that, they will begin the tough part of their schedule right around .500. It’s not that farfetched to think they can pull it off.

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

Who’s the Reds Third Best Pitcher?

The third best pitcher on the Reds in 2020 will not be who you are thinking.

Clay Snowden

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© Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Castillo, Gray, Bauer, DeSclafani, and Miley. A deep, veteran, proven rotation which, on paper, makes the Reds the NL Central favorites. You can argue over who the “Ace” is, but who cares. Gray and Castillo both showed incredible stuff each earning an all-star bid. Miley brings a lefty to the rotation while Bauer brings the big name on a contract year. However, the one pitcher that doesn’t have an all-star appearance on his resume is the one to keep an eye on. I think Anthony DeSclafani will be the third best pitcher behind Castillo and Gray.

In 2019, Anthony DeSclafani had a healthy season. Coming off a promising 2016 (3.28 ERA 130 ERA+), Disco missed the entire 2017 season and only pitched in 21 games during the 2018 campaign. With how fantastic Gray/Castillo pitched and the splash trade that landed Bauer, DeSclafani’s season flew under the radar. 2.6 War 3.89 ERA 117 ERA + 167 K’s in 31 starts pitching 166.2 innings. His last 8 starts he pitched to the tune of a 2.39 ERA. Just a lucky year? I don’t think so. DeSclafani has mentioned before how much working with pitching coach Derek Johnson has helped him. Now more of a veteran, coming off a healthy season and having another healthy offseason with DJ, just how good could DeSclafani be?

According to Baseball Reference Disco’s projections:
9-9 4.35 ERA 1 Sv (?) 155 innings 154 K’s

Zips projection: 1.6 (Bauer 3.8, Castillo 3.9, Gray 3.2, Miley 1.1)

First off, win loss record for a pitcher means absolutely nothing. However, I do think DeSclafani will set a career high in wins, which is 9 (9 wins 3 different times). Last season, his first with Derek Johnson, Disco set a career high in strikeouts while pitching 18 fewer innings than his career high in innings. Contrary to many pitchers, he pitched pretty well at GABP.

Home: 6-4 3.50 ERA 82.1 in 71 hits 86 K’s
Away: 3-5 4.27 ERA 84.1 in 80 hits 81 K’s

A healthy 2020 while pitching in a contract year is important. Earning $5,900,000 at 30 years old it is crucial for DeSclafani to pitch well and set himself up for another contract and payday before he gets older. If he can continue to build off last season and take a step forward the Reds could be around a 90 win team in 2020.

*Random stat: DeSclafani’s 2019 117 ERA+ is higher than Bauer’s ERA+ in 7 of his 8 seasons.*

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Cincinnati Reds

Bounce Back and Breakout: Outfield

Looking to the outfield for a bounce back and a breakout candidate.

Clay Snowden

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© Cincinnati Enquirer-USA TODAY NETWORK via Imagn Content Services, LLC

10 outfielders. TEN?!?!? On the 40-man roster? Well, let’s try to unpack this obscurity. The offseason started with a quick trade to acquire Travis Jankowski which has turned into the safety option after the Reds hit big on their free agent targets. Mark Payton was selected in the Rule 5 as a long shot to make the roster. Scott Schebler is still around and apparently healthy. Don’t forget he once hit 30 home runs but more recently hit .123/.253/.222. VanMeter is probably projected more as an infielder especially with the new additions. Ok, so now that we have trimmed the fat, we are left with the big question mark in Aquino, hits LHP Ervin, often injured Senzel, RHP only Winker, and the big free agents Akiyama and Castellanos. With at bats limited, who will bounce back and who will break out?

Bounce Back: Nick Senzel
Honorable Mention: Aristides Aquino

No one has ever questioned the talent. There’s a reason Senzel was drafted high and appeared at the top of prospect list. The issue has been health. Not to beat a dead horse, but he’s struggled to stay on the field. Once he arrived on the scene in May, Senzel hit .279/.347/.468 with 4 home runs 5 doubles and 2 triples. Those numbers started to slip and Turner Ward changing his batting stance didn’t help. Injuries once again were an issue. How Senzel will be used in 2020 is up for debate. Everyday centerfielder? Second if Suarez is injured? Super utility? Who cares, the most important thing is to get Senzel healthy, find a comfortable batting stance, and get him at bats. A season (well, 104 games) under his belt should help. Many rookies struggle. Hell, Mike Trout batted .220 in his first year (40 games). Senzel won’t be Trout, but if he can hit around .280, which I think he can, this team could catch fire in and take the division.

Baseball Reference Projection: .260/.324/.445 14 HR 10 SB 20 2B (These seem low to me)

Breakout: Shogo Akiyama
Honorable Mention: Phillip Ervin

The first Japanese player in Reds history comes with high expectations. Although a rookie, Akiyama will be 32 years old and has proven himself in Japan. Hitting 20 home runs or more the past three seasons while hitting over .300 and an OBP of .398, .403, .392 should cause fans to drool over what he could be. Many question if he can be a centerfielder in the MLB but the Reds think he’ll hold his own. Adjusting to the new country and a new league could lead to a slow start. Many assume he has an elite eye for the strike zone due to his OBP, but Akiyama has never walked more than he strikes out. Not many players do, we as fans have been spoiled with Votto doing just that a few seasons in his career (APPRECIATE VOTTO). Frankly, I couldn’t care less how he gets on base as long as he is on base. I think Akiyama will be a crucial part of the team’s success in 2020.

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Cincinnati Reds

2020 Offseason Compared to Others

This offseason is definitely the best the Reds have had in the last decade.

Clay Snowden

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© Cincinnati Enquirer-USA TODAY NETWORK via Imagn Content Services, LLC

$165 million dollar SPLASH offseason’ s are not common in Cincinnati. After years and years of subpar rosters and uninspiring managing, the Reds started to focus on the future last offseason with a few big moves. Sonny Gray was brought in help the top of the rotation while Puig in friends were brought in to jazz up the lineup. At least one worked. 2019 offseason has built a solid foundation for the years to come. If you thought that was exciting, 2020 blew it out of the water.
So, let’s run down some previous offseason’s. Here are some of the players the Reds acquired via free agency and trades:

2010: Chapman, Arredondo, Orlando Cabrera

2011: Ramon Hernandez and Edgar Renteria

2012: Mat Latos, Sean Marshall, Ryan Madson, Dioner Navarro, Ludwick, JJ Hoover, Wilson Valdez

2013: Jumbo Diaz, Broxton, Choo, Hannahan, Cesar Izturis

2014: Tim Adleman, Skip Schumaker, Jason Bougeois, Trevor Bell, Ramon Santiago

2015: Ivan De Jesus, Ramon Cabrerra, DeSclafani, Suarez, Marlon Byrd, Jason Marquuis, Burk Badenhop

2016: Blake Wood, Brandon Allen, Tim Melville, Schebler and Peraza, Alfredo Simon, Dan Strailey

2017: Stuart Turner, Josh VanMeter, Drew Storen, Luis Castillo, Scott Feldman, Arroyo, Scooter

2018: Kevin Quackenbush, Mason Williams, Phil Gosselin, Jared Hughes, David Hernandez, Cliff Pennington

2019: Tanner Roark, Farmer/Puig/Kemp/Wood, Sonny Gray, Derek Dietrich, Jose Iglesias

*gulps* WHEW

Man, that 2014-2018 was bad. The good players acquired were prospects. Obviously, during a rebuild that is what you do. But the MLB “talent” that was signed, well, yikes! (A couple of good players, I am being harsh.) The front office had no plans for winning. That is just how rebuilds work. But, you can see the foundation being built. The prospects take a few years and 2018 was the first aggressive push in years. The Reds window for success is now. By going out and signing offensive players in Moose and Castellans to pair with OBP machine Akiyama the city of Cincinnati is ready for excitement. Lack of spending has been the gripe of patrons each offseason. They were finally silenced. Interestingly, previous improvements had been made via trade, mostly. The opposite happened this offseason with signing talent and holding on to future assets. What do we make of that? I’m not really sure. Does it say the Reds have something up their sleeve to pull off a spring training trade? Could be. Too many outfielders will have to play itself out. Although this offseason has been the biggest yet, it’s possible it’s not even over yet.

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