2013 Reds / Titanic Struggle Recap

Titanic Struggle Recap: Sweep Edition

Let’s recap tonight’s titanic struggle(s)….

FINAL — Suspended game from yesterday
Philadelphia 0
Cincinnati 1

W: A. Chapman (2-0)
L: P. Aumont (1-2)
BOX SCORE

FINAL
Philadelphia 2
Cincinnati 11

W: M. Leake (1-0)
L: J. Lannan (0-1)
BOX SCORE

POSITIVES
–Before tonight’s titanic struggle, of course, the Reds and Phils finished up last night’s rain-suspended contest. It took the Reds nine minutes — a Cozart single, Votto walk, Phillies error, and a Jay Bruce RBI single — to complete what they started yesterday. Aroldis Chapman got the win tonight without even throwing a pitch.

–Once the regularly-scheduled game got started, Mike Leake began trying to emulate Homer Bailey’s performance from last night. Leake threw seven masterful innings, allowing no runs and three hits, striking out seven and walking none. A brilliant evening…oh, and he also went 3-4 with a triple, three runs scored, and an RBI.

–Zack Cozart was 3-5 with a double, a homer, three runs scored and two RBI. Not bad.

–The rarely-used Devin Mesoraco had two doubles, scored two runs, and drove in another. Brandon Phillips was 2-2 with 3 RBI. Jay Bruce had two hits and two RBI. Todd Frazier hit a homer.

NEGATIVES
–None.

NOT-SO-RANDOM THOUGHTS
–Sweep! The Reds are now back above .500, for good, we hope.

–I’ll take this version of Mike Leake every night, if you don’t mind.

–People are determined to freak out over Joey Votto, it appears. There are about a billion things in my life that concern me more than a guy who is hitting .277/.521/.404.

–Does Mesoraco get credit for Leake’s great performance like Ryan Hanigan gets credit every time a Reds pitcher tosses a gem? The answer, obviously, is no, just as Hanigan gets too much credit (“catcher ERA” is mostly nonsense).

Don’t let my praise of Mesoraco be construed as a dislike for Hanigan. I love Hanigan, despite his slow start. He’s a good catcher, and he deserves to be the starting catcher for the Reds. I just wish Mesoraco played more. Letting Hanigan start three of every five games doesn’t seem like a drastic plan, and it’s a good way to keep both players fresh all season long.

But what do I know?*

–I apologize for my Twitter avatar:

Source: FanGraphs

*Don’t answer that.

60 thoughts on “Titanic Struggle Recap: Sweep Edition

  1. Why can’t Mesoraco catch about half the time, and at least sometimes catch the big boys?

  2. I’ve said it before, but I’ll repeat. Mes has to get about 2 starts out of 5 over the course of the season, unless the Reds bring up a 3rd catcher.

    Hanigan would wear down catching 4 out of 5, and Dusty knows it. In 2012 Hanigan started 98 games as catcher, almost exactly 3 out of 5. The most games he started in a season prior to that was 73 in 2011.

  3. I’m a closet Mike Leake fan. I come out of the closet after he has a very good (or better) game. I think of him as a young Bronson Arroyo: smart, fearless, and a ballplayer – he hits, he runs the bases, he plays defense.

    And I believe he can pitch as well as he did in 2011. But that won’t be good enough to keep him in the rotation if Cingrani pitches as well as I hope he does.
    So I’m torn. But as they say, it’s a good problem for the Reds to have.

    • @pinson343: Leake is still a young pitcher and will have ups and downs. But saying that I have and always will believe that he blosoms into a very good 4th or 5th guy in the rotation. How fun was that last night watching him hit and deal?

  4. Is there any reason we shouldn’t see more of this Robinson guy? I guess he poses a little bit of a batting order delima with Cozart at least temporarily prospering in the #2 slot but still Heisey’s numbers are so brutal Robinson wouldn’t be any worse in the #7 slot.

    • @OhioJim: I have a feeling that the Reds (ie Dusty) are gradually moving towards that – seeing Robinson more and Heisey less. Letting him start against a LHP, lead off, and play CF (although those are obviously because Choo was out) rather than Heisey seemed big, at least to me. We all know that Dusty likes his speedy players, and that’s exactly what Robinson is. Robinson is also the best option defensively amongst the leftfielders, and he’s leading Heisey and Paul in OBP.

      In summary, I think we’re seeing a start of a gradual change towards more of an opportunity for Derrick Robinson, especially as he shows that he can reach base from either side of the plate.

      • @RFM: He’s got 15 plate appearances and 1 start. I think we know nothing about what’s going to happen.

        • @Hank Aarons Teammate: Derrick Robinson has made two starts (against St Louis and Philadelphia) with a nod that he’s a superior defensive outfielder than Heisey (as he was asked to play CF when Heisey was in LF), while Heisey has seen himself dumped from 2nd to 7th in the batting order. Heisey flat out hasn’t hit and his stock seems to continually drop.

          I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens, but that’s what I’ve noticed lately – subtle snubs towards Heisey and more of a role for the 25th guy on the roster.

    • @OhioJim: Well, one reason is that he was terrible in the minor leagues.

      I’d really prefer to see Paul get more chances, if they are inclined not to play Heisey.

      • @Hank Aarons Teammate: I’d agree that I’d like to see more of Paul as opposed to Robinson. That said, Robinson’s OBP did improve and it appears his BB% did as well. I’m not so sure he may not be a bad 5th OF to have around. I like how Dusty has been using him so far.

  5. Did anyone else see the Homer Bailey interview video about his pitching performance with Hanigan posted on cinci enquirer? I know he’s just talking about his relationship with Hanigan there .. but it almost feels like an indirect dig to Meso.

    • @Love4Reds: Homer loves Hanigan and Corky Miller. I don’t know that he has anything against Mes, but he’s so comfortable with those guys …

    • @Love4Reds: I think if the shoe fits Meso has to wear it. He has shown that he has grown up and faced up to a lot of issues from last year. Hopefully he can just add development of Hanigan style relationships with the pitchers to his to do list.

      • @OhioJim: But also what needs to happen is that the *manager* of this team needs to get behind him. In my opinion he is not behind him.

        The ramifications of not being behind him are that the pitchers can yap about how they want Hanigan, knowing that it has a chance of working.

        I just don’t see why they can’t give Mesoraco a chance to catch the good pitchers. To not do so is to sentence Mesoraco permanently to a backup role, catching the lesser pitchers. Is that what we want to decide here, after he’s started less than 100 major league games?

        • @Hank Aarons Teammate: Agreed. Baker is showing no confidence in Devin. So, then, the pitchers aren’t going to show any confidence in Devin. Baker said he was going to mix the catching duties up, specifically that all pitchers and catchers need to be able to work with each other. When is that going to happen in the Bakerman’s world?

          As far as Leake, I don’t doubt he still has some maturing to do. But, this was the first game he was pitching where the Reds scored first and got him out to a lead. It is easier to pitch wth the lead than without it.

  6. I think the Reds have gotten more production out of this bench in 15 games than they did out of the first couple months last year.

    • @earl: The Reds may have gotten as much bench production so far as in the first 3 months of last year. I don’t know how the 2012 Reds won so many games with that bench. Before XPaul was picked up, it was truly terrible. (I’m not considering Frazer here, because he was a starter for so much of 2012.)

  7. Reds sweep the Phillies. Rollins, Utley, Howard no longer inspire fear. As they say, time and tide etc.

    • @pinson343: It certainly didn’t hurt that they didn’t see Hammels or Halliday (diminished or not is still an open question at this early stage) and got a gritty pitching and offensive effort against Lee.

      • @OhioJim: Right Hamels has been very tough on the Reds. It would be interesting to see how they’d do against him this year.
        Halladay was great, but I don’t know if he’ll ever pitch again like he used to.

        In any case, the Phils used to have a scary lineup. They don’t any more.

        • @pinson343: All very true but if their pitching stabilizes, they put some hurt on some folks over the year.

          When you look at the ledger of relative performance against the same foe, this series would look like one where the Reds could easily pick up a game on the Cards.

  8. Jack Hannahan is a nice pickup for the roster, as he fits roles that were badly needed last year. He can play first and third and is a left handed bat on the bench. I was thinking Greg Dobbs might be a player the Reds could go get to fill that roll and Hannahan is a similar player.

  9. I’ve been to 2 games this year. Reds differential in those games is 26-2.

    It’s some type of weird curse.

  10. Great game by Cozart. This year he’s gone 6/20 as a #2 hitter, with 1 walk and 1 strikeout, compared to 3/31 with 0 walks and 7 strikeouts as a #7 hitter. He hit best last year as a #2 hitter and it seems to be working for him again. I hope he sticks in that role, at least against LHPs, rather than Heisey.

    Derrick Robinson, I was happy to see him leading off (rather than Heisey or Cozart) in Choo’s day off, and even more happy to see him reach base three times. Sure he got picked off, but at least he got on base. I continue to be impressed by Robinson, and I think acquiring him was a huge success by Walt Jocketty. On the other hand I’m sick of the broadcasters telling the story of how he could have been a college football player… every time he comes up to bat.

    Joey Votto sure looks to me like he needs a day off. A nice relaxing day that Jack Hannahan can use to raise his batting average back above .545. Yes yes, small sample size, but I think the Reds can get by for a day against the Marlins without Votto.

    I hope Devin Mesoraco gets to catch for Tony Cingrani. I still believe that when Cueto returns either Cingrani or Leake (but who knows which one?) will be demoted to AAA, and Mesoraco should be prepared to catch either.

    Leake looked great, I was really impressed. I wonder if the threat presented by Tony Cingrani had anything to do with it.

    I keep hoping that tomorrow’s start by lefty Tony Cingrani could be the end, at least for the season, of the Chapman to the Rotation Movement. A strong start by Cingrani (even) against the Marlins could be big. Big big big. Please have a good start and establish that the Reds have a capable reasonably hard throwing lefthanded starter. Please Tony Cingrani, you’re our only hope.

    • @RFM: The new season’s in full swing, and RFM’s back. Cozart doesn’t get on base, versus righties or lefties. If he bats second all year, he’ll probably gravitate towards his overall numbers from last year, which aren’t good for a #2 hitter. Also, convenient that the stats are posted today, after he got 3 hits. He was 3-17 before yesterday in the 2 spot.

      I didn’t know that there would be another option when Cueto’s back, other than demoting either Cingrani or Leake. Am I missing something? I guess they could make Leake the long man? I can’t see them keeping Cingrani up as a long man.

      • @Hank Aarons Teammate: If Cozart hits second I think he’ll gravitate towards decent numbers. It was his being asked to lead off that was so detrimental to his 2012 season. Fortunately those days seem to be behind him. We’ll just have to wait and see.

        And yep, I waited until Cozart was putting up decent numbers in that role until repeating that statement, that Cozart could hit second when Phillips fills a different role.

        I didn’t know that there would be another option when Cueto’s back, other than demoting either Cingrani or Leake.Am I missing something?I guess they could make Leake the long man?I can’t see them keeping Cingrani up as a long man.

        Other options include making Mike Leake a long reliever or asking Tony Cingrani to become a setupman due to his success as a closer in college. I think they are both horrible options and extremely unlikely – whoever loses their MLB rotation spot should and will keep starting every 5th day in Louisville. Heck, trading away the guy who gets cut is an option, albeit another bad one.

  11. I hate putting the cart ahead of the horse like several folks were heading into Pittsburgh last week but at least the Reds have done what they needed to do to set up a possibly huge home stand.

  12. “Joey Votto, right now, is on pace for a 11 WAR season. The last Red to do that was Joe Morgan. It’s not a slump, kids.”

    Anybody who watched him swing the bat last night would have a hard time believing this isn’t a slump. Even if it is just a slump on some weird Votto scale. He isn’t seeing the ball right.

    • @RedTitan19: I’m fairly confident that Votto himself would tell you he isn’t playing very well right now. It is a team game, and those walks are giving Phillips a shot at the RBI crown. Shortly, though, the pitchers are going to challenge Votto more than they have been, and the walks will dry up a bit, at least until Votto makes them pay.

      It isn’t really Dusty’s style, but I could see Leake being used in the outfield here and there, or for that matter anywhere other than catcher. You’d have to make sure he didn’t hurt his arm doing so. Leake should also be used as a pinch-hitter, maybe not in high leverage situations, but enough to keep his bat fresh. He is a real hitter.

        • @Hank Aarons Teammate:

          You are on. He might not start, but I can see DBaker putting Leake in left for a batter an inning or two on a double switch. It might confound a manager like Clint Hurdle.

        • @Hank Aarons Teammate: Yeah, I don’t really figure Leake to play in the field, either, but he would be an option in an extra inning game. He is too strong offensively for the Reds not to find him plenty of at-bats between starts.

          Leake, if he hurt his arm, might could pull a Rick Ankiel and come back as a hitter.

      • @Big Ed: Have you considered that if (when?) pitchers start challenging Votto more to avoid the walks, he might start murdering the ball? Just a thought.

        • @Hank Aarons Teammate: Sure, I’ve considered it, and he eventually will. But he didn’t murder Raul Valdes last night, which scouts will duly note, and pitchers will not continue to pitch around him until he does start to hit like the regular Joey Votto.

          Votto doesn’t draw tons of walks because he has a good eye, although that is certainly part of it. Votto walks a lot primarily becuase he murders the ball when thrown a fat pitch, and thus pitchers go to great lengths not to throw him fat pitches–i.e., they throw him a lot of balls. The pitchers make the conscious decision that walking Votto is better than giving him something to hit. When scouts/pitchers see that he isn’t hitting those fat pitches (and remember Votto himself says he hasn’t taken a good swing in months), then they will pitch him differently. And when he starts hitting them . . .

    • @RedTitan19: Ah yeah. If what he has done translates to a WAR of 11, they need to reconfigure their equation. Maybe it is weighted too heavily on the value of walks. Right now, Joey is on pace for ~20 rbis. So call me me skeptical.

      I have zero doubt that he will break out of this current “slump” as he did at the beginning of last season but to me it looks like he is literally trying to feel his way to hitting the ball (too much thinking?). A little Tony Perez, “See the ball, hit the ball”, might be just what the doctor ordered.

      • @CharlotteNCRedsFan: I think you are probably underestimating the value of a guy getting on base 55% of the time. Maybe the scale is skewed a bit on extremes, and Votto’s not going to end the season with an on base percentage of .550, nor a slugging percentage of about .400 (assuming he’s healthy). But if a guy were to get on that much, it’s really valuable.

    • @RedTitan19: I agree. Joey has had some very uncomfortable swings lately and last night he really didn’t seem to be seeing the ball well. I’m not too worried though. At least not yet.

  13. Mesoroco should wear a tshirt that says, “I don’t always hit the ball, but when I do, I hit doubles.”

  14. Regarding Mesoraco’s playing time:

    Good for him. 4 games starts is meaningless, but at least he’s flashing a skill set that Hanigan can’t ever match. He should be hitting in a position where he can drive in runs, but hey, that’s Dusty. Just keep hitting and put a lot of pressure on Baker.

    Beggars can’t be choosers but, 3 games off, 2 games on is a weird way to play. There will normally be some days off in the middle there, so really we’re talking about Mes sitting more than every 3 days at a time.

    I don’t really care who Mesoraco pitches to. Make it everyone, play the hot hand. Give both guys the shot to run away with it.

    If the Reds are so concerned about Mesoraco’s game calling abilities, then they would start calling in the signals from the bench…

    I’ve never seen a player defined so much by what OTHER players do around him.

    • @CP: I’ve never seen a guy so defined by what basically amounts to a cup of coffee in terms of playing experience.

  15. I think everyone needs to calm down a little on the Meso needs to play more issue. Don’t get me wrong, I want to see him play more too. But it’s so early in the year, it’s really only a matter of time until he gets more PT… especially if he continues to play the way he is now. I think it’s just all about the pitchers comfort level with him. Once the pitchers get more comfortable with him I think you’ll see a lot more starts come his way. Lets just hope he can handle the extra load mentally. (Im sure he can)

  16. The Reds did not walk a batter in the series. That is the first time that has happened (3 games in a row without a walk) since 1933.

    Note to Dusty:
    Mike Leake should be playing left field instead of Chris Heisey.

  17. Nice game Mr. Leake. really well pitched.

    signed, Mike Leake critic

    I agree with this:

    I’ll take this version of Mike Leake every night, if you don’t mind.

    • @reaganspad: “Madness and greatness were two sides of the same coin and every time a new Targaryen was born, the gods would toss the coin in the air.”

      Sounds a little Leake and the baseball gods each game.

  18. Until performance level dictates otherwise, Leake just kind of is who is he is. We shouldn’t be surprised when he has games like this… he’s been great before. We shouldn’t be surprised when he gets beat up on… that’s happened before. It’s the inconsistency that marks the time with him. No need to evaluate his worthiness on a game by game basis… we’re going to see both aspects the whole way through.

    • @Matt WI: The Fox Sports Ohio gun had Leake at up to 93 last night, and had Homer up to 97 the night before. Maybe both guys were throwing exceptionally hard, but I’m a little skeptical of the gun. Not that it matters a whole lot, because the Phillies were baffled at both of them.

      • @Big Ed: Stadium gun had Leake at 93 only once that I saw. Most fastballs were at 90-91 from him. The gun had the Phils pitchers under 90 for the most part which would be in line with what I’ve seen before from them. I am not sure the gun is too far off. Homer had excellent stuff the other night and Leake was throwing very well.

  19. The Reds dispatched of the Phils in three games at a tidy total of 7 hours and 28 minutes of official game time.

    They were three of the four shortest Reds games all season.

  20. The thing I’m worried about with Votto is that it’s like he is TRYING to get walked every time he steps to the plate, for instance the AB with the bases loaded last night. Even on the AB’s where he does get walked he either misses or takes very hittable pitches. Did the Reds pay Votto >225M to stand up there and draw walks or to drive the ball?

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