Titanic Struggle Recap

Reds relentless, manager not so much

Final R H E
  Cincinnati Reds  (32-34) 6 9 0
  Milwaukee Brewers  (40-28) 5 9 4
 W: Broxton (2-0)     L: Rodriguez (2-2)     S: Chapman (10)
 Fangraphs Box Score/Win Probability Graph/Play by Play |   ESPN Box Score    |   ESPN Photos

Roles > Relentlessness

Apparently, slavish devotion to rigid bullpen roles trumps relentlessly trying to win. That’s sad and disappointing.  

If Bryan Price hadn’t chained himself to a pre-defined role for Aroldis Chapman, he’d have used Chapman in the ultra-high leverage situation in the seventh (and eighth) to get out of Homer Bailey’s jam. Broxton could have finished the game if the Reds still had the lead. Instead, the Reds relied on Sam LeCure and Logan Ondrusek to get (or not) those outs.

Overall, I’m OK with the job Price has done in his first three months managing. It’s way too soon to judge what kind of a manager he’ll be. He’s barely had a healthy team, so reaching any firm conclusion on him would be grossly unfair. But I sure liked the Bryan Price of his pre-season press conferences better. The Bryan Price who said he’d get more value out of Aroldis Chapman other than just using him for one inning. If a game against the first-place team isn’t the time to do that, I don’t know when it is.

Instead, the Reds organization continues the grotesque and colossal misuse of one of the game’s best arms. If the people who came up with this plan were doctors, they’d have been put out of business by malpractice suits years ago.

Positives

The bats stayed hot, with nine hits. Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto, Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce all knocked in runs. Billy Hamilton had an important hit in the top of the ninth, driving in Zack Cozart who had singled to lead off the inning. Cozart and Frazier each had two hits and a walk. Jay Bruce had two hits.

Milwaukee closer Francisco Rodriquez not only hadn’t given up a run in the month of June before tonight, he hadn’t given up a hit. Outstanding effort by the Reds to scratch that run out after blowing the four-run lead.

Coming into tonight’s game, Aroldis Chapman had struck out 54.7 percent of the batters he’d faced this year. That’s utterly absurd. The second highest rate in the major leagues is 45 percent. Chapman struck out two of the three batters he faced.

Negatives

Sam was not LeCure tonight. Facing the heart of the Brewers order, he gave up three hits and allowed two inherited runners and one of his own to score. One of those hits was a little unlucky, as Jonathan Lucroy singled on a swinging bunt with two outs.

Not so random thoughts

Needless to say this was an important win. It cut the Brewers lead over the Reds down to seven games and avoided that number moving up to nine. It keeps alive the possibility of a series sweep, which would be an enormous positive for the Reds chances. And the way this game developed, with the Reds blowing a four-run lead, a loss would have been especially crushing.

Defense was an important difference. The Reds made several great defensive plays. Zack Cozart made a diving catch on a line drive in the first inning. Joey Votto dug out a double play throw in the sixth. Meanwhile, the Brewers committed four errors, led by pitcher Matt Garza who apparently has been receiving throwing lessons from Mark Mallory.

Mat Latos pitches tomorrow night for the first time in the 2014 season. Who-hoo!

88 thoughts on “Reds relentless, manager not so much

  1. Reds win so I am not about to second guess Price. We won the game so as far as I am concerned he has been a genius for 3 straight games.
    How about Hamilton coming through in the clutch? He knocked in run #6 to prevent us from having to win it in extra innings. Another team effort!
    Let us sweep this series!!!

  2. I would have put LeCure in too. He just had a bad outing, which for him is hard to say. Everyone loves him, I think he is the anchor more than anyone else and it is sad to see him have an outing like this.

    • Totally agree, you cannot use Chapman in every high level situation. It would have made as much sense as bring him in the 4th with the bases loaded. I might agree if this were October, but you cannot manage every game with Chapman like it is the 7th game of the World series.
      With Lecure, he basically threw strikes, got ahead got a big K of a former MVP but what Maffie prophetically pointed out earlier: What is a little surprising is how low Sam LeCure’s number is here: since he is not able to get hitters to offer at pitches outside of the zone, it hints at a possible regression in his pitching line later in the year. His BABIP (.278 vs .297 career) also indicates there could be a bit of a regression as the season moves on.
      Amazing 6 out of 8 brewers reached, they easily could have walked Ramirez but they had Ondrusek go after him and he did his job, this to me is totally on Bailey who can easily go 120 pitches, sitting at 92 has to get the bottom of the order out.

      • Thanks for the comments. I agree.

        LeCure has been better than we should expect so far, and everybody has an off day. I hope this isn’t a trend. Glad to see Ondrusek pitching better.

        I would like to see Chapman starting, Broxton closing, but if he stays in the pen, not opposed to being creative with Chapman as needed.

    • I honestly don’t think they can win the division. I don’t even think that the guys can pull off a wild card spot. But that doesn’t mean that I am not rooting for them to win each and every single day! 3 in a row. I want em to prove me wrong.

      • Agree about winning the div. Wild card not as far fetched though I don’t think they’d go deep in October so it doesn’t matter that much. Optimistically if they could keep it fun through LaborDay then this summer won’t be the depressing waste it’s been looking/feeling like for the past month.

  3. That’s a pretty dumb assessment about his use of chapman. Did you happen to watch the bottom of the 9th?

    • I happen to agree with the assessment. Leaving your best reliever in the bullpen when the game is on the line is asinine.

      • And the game wasn’t on the line in the 9th?? Chapman faced 1/2/3 in the order with a one run lead. If a one batter reaches for the Brewers, they are in a position to score a walk off win. I think you want your best pitcher on the mound in this situation.

        By contrast in the 7th, the Reds have a 3 run lead with runners on 1st and 2nd with 1 out and a pinch hitter coming to plate when the pitching change is made. The Reds have 6 outs left on offense. Bringing in his third best reliever who has a good rate of stranding runners would seem to fit the leverage of that situation more than bringing in his best reliever who seldom comes in with runners on base and often takes a hitter or 2 to find his stride. The 7th inning progressed to 2 outs with the Reds still holding a 2 run lead and from that situation took 2 hits to score the last two runs of the inning.

        The first man out of the pen who is usually very reliable simply did not do his job tonight.

        • Good analysis. I’ll add that the most important out of the game was Ondrusek retiring Ramirez with the go-ahead runs on 2nd and 3rd.

        • I’m pretty sure the game is more on the line with a one run lead and runners all over the bases in the 7th then no one on base in the 9th.

        • And then who pitches the 9th with a one run lead? You miss the strategic situation being that the Reds had 6 outs guaranteed to them in the bottom of the 7th and no outs left in the bottom of the 9th.

        • But Steve’s point is, if Price uses Chapman in the 7th, it’s not a one run lead in the 9th.

        • And in my recounting of the 7th, I am saying (by inference at least) without the help of hindsight where is the point where Chapman should be inserted? Runners at 1st and 3rd with 1 out, a pinch hitter up and LeCure having a strong record of stranding runners and often getting GIDPs? After 2 were out with 2 runs in? where?

    • Take it easy on the personal attacks, I think is good debate, as I mentioned above in so many words it would be “asinine” to pitch Chapman in every high level situation. I like Steve’s strategy in a one -game playoff, but I am pretty sure Chapman is not available tomorrow after 3 straight days, 5 of past 7. The game was on the line in the 4th, amazingly Homer did his job and got out of his mess like he typically does.
      Hard to sustain win streaks if starters cannot go 8 and you only have 2 reliable relievers in the pen. Very difficult to manage long term

      • Thinking like this is giving credence to this magical ninth inning mentality that doesn’t exist. In the 7th when the crap was hitting the fan why not bring in your best reliever to scoop the poop instead of holding him back for a moment the may never come.

        • Kurt: I agree with you, theoretically. Do you think it possible, though, that Price didn’t use Chapman because he was hoping to not use him at all, thus giving him a rest? I also see the merit of Steve’s argument above, but the situation raises a couple of questions: how is it that we, as fans casual and not, would know more than experienced professional baseball guys? And is it possible, given Price’s stated position about the use of Chapman, that there is something about Chapman himself that has forced Price to modify his intentions?

        • While I agree that Chapman is our best reliever, LeCure is usually absolute nails at stranding runners in exactly that kind of situation. That’s been one of his calling cards over the last couple of years: He’s stranded more people than the airplane on LOST. That he didn’t come through last night doesn’t make it the wrong move to use him; it just means he had an off night. But that move has worked fare more often than it hasn’t. Ondrusek is another conversation.

        • Completely agree with Joe. This is Sam’s forte. It didn’t work last tonight but it doesn’t make it a bad decision by Price. If blame is to be placed, then point at Homer for failing to put away the bottom of the order.

          With all that said, Bailey pitched well overall and the Reds put together a really nice game. Unlike what we’ve typically seen so far this season.

        • Except LeCure’s last 2 outings (before last night) have been…uhh, less than stellar? Even Chris Welsh knew it and mentioned it on the broadcast.

        • I guess my question is: At what point should Chapman have started warming up for the 7th? At what point would Price know that “This is it! I need to get Chapman up because things are going to get really interesting.” Should he have gotten up along side of LeCure?

  4. I almost turned to game off after Brew City tied it up. Glad I watched the W! Tried to give it away but a W is a W Redleg Nation!!! I will save my Price and his smoke blowing rant for a later time. I’m gonna enjoy this 3rd win in a row over a winning ballclub!!!

    • Why can’t anyone acknowledge that Brewers showed some grit stringing together 6 hits in an inning on some pretty unfavorable counts?, there were no misplays that I recall, no walks, they were not trying to give it away like the Brewcrew did- I thought Price did a good job of holding it together trying to get the most out of his guys and they failed but the team still won, Votto has got to get Hamilton in during the 9th and they still won.
      I believe outside of starting pitching this is a superior team than the Reds.

      • I did give the Brewers credit for it’s fighting back. Wish the reds had the ability to fight back like this. I’m not a true fan for thinking this way to others on here though!!!! Hahahaha what a crock!!!

  5. I am convinced that nobody works magic with a pitcher more so than Price. That is his gift to the Reds and the only reason he was hired as manager. How many of our starters have Price to thank for him coaching them on perfecting their game? Chapman’s additional pitches I”m sure are a direct result of Price’s mentoring as well. If Price thought that Chapman could handle pitching 2 innings at a time I think he would do it. I also think that if Price seriously believed that Chapman could hold up as a starter as is our best option then he would be in there as a starter. I don’t think Jocketty or anyone else in the Reds organization second guesses Price when it comes to managing the pitching staff. Look at the body of work and the maturation process of all of the Reds pitchers since Price was brought in as our pitching coach. No matter what Price is doing as the Reds Manager there is no doubt in my mind that he also works at least part of the time as a pitching coach.

    Same as do a bad outing and he had one. Maybe Price had concerns going there and is why he left Bailey in as long as he did.

    Broxton deserved the win and Chapman certainly deserved the Save.

    • Agree about Price’s positive impact on the pitching staff. Don’t see how anyone could disagree with that. For two years he was the biggest advocate of Chapman starting and he changed his mind, we don’t know why.

      Chapman was used for 2 innings in the 15 inning win over the Nats (pitching the 10th after he’d blown a save in the 9th) and Price will use him for 2 innings in the future.

    • Let’s enjoy a win, let’s feel good, let’s let tomorrow take care of itself. I believe the Brewers gave us the game (4 errors) but how many games has our middle relief given somebody else the game. As Searge2 would say “sweep and .500 by Monday” who would have thought.

    • Really agree with Price knowing his pitchers. I think it is more personnel and changing old ways as far as Chapman is concerned, it is unbelievable how bad this bullpen is and if I recall since Chapman has returned they have not lost a game when the starter left with a lead. That requires management in my eyes.

      • I made a comment a few days ago about how many 2 inning saves (in tonight’s case, a win) Broxton/Chapman have. If they were still on the DL, many of those games would be lost. Where you have two studs and otherwise a shaky pen, those two have a major impact.

    • People seem to be questioning having Bailey go out for the 7th, that was the right call, not debatable, right?
      Maybe he should have brought in a lefty (not Chapman) for the PH instead of sticking with Bailey, but to me Homer has to get him out. Sad to say with the 3 lefties (other than Chapman) in the pen, Zach Duke is clearly better than all- why did the Reds let him go last year anyway?

      • Vic, I don’t think the Reds seriously would consider Zach Duke to be better than Parra or even Marshall when the season ended last year. Let’s see where Duke ends up after this season. My guess is that a serious regression is coming up.

  6. I won’t comment on the use of Chapman, but I do understand why Price did not go to Broxton in the 7th this time. Broxton threw 30 pitches against the Dodgers on Wednesday. So he was not going to pitch more than one inning. Broxton’s fastball was at 89-90, which is the slowest it’s been this season.

  7. Tremendous win for the Reds against a very good Brewers team. I always get a great feeling of satisfaction when the Reds win, but lately even more so when a Reds win is an “in your face” to the so called Reds fans who declare game over if the Reds fall behind 1-0 after the 1st inning, or say the Reds are “folding like a cheap suit” the instant the Reds make an error, or the other team scores a run. Go Reds! Adios Amigos.

    • With the offense and it;s sputtering for most of the season it’s kind of hard to be confident of a comeback when reds hitters more often than not make clowns look like Cy Young. Cueto has a sub 2 era but doesn’t have the W’s to go with his amazing season thus far. You can say “in your face” if you want but the fact is the errors caused Mil the game not Cincy beating them with it;s offense. I think Garza got 1 ER charged against him. Has Cincy ever came back from a 5-1 defecit this season to even look like they were fighting in any way?? Fans start adapting the attitude of the team they follow. Maybe your the exception Sergeant2 and I commend you for that sir. Pass me some of your optimism please I could use some.

      • I feel some optimism too. With a starting rotation of Cueto, Homer, Latos, Leake and Simon, and with Broxton and Chapman at the back end, that’s a seriously good pitching staff.

        For the most part, the offense is going to go as Votto and Bruce go. Over the next 100 games, they have to hit with power (extra base hits), which I think they will if they’re healthy. They need help of course, Frazier keeps hitting but right now I’m worried about Mes. He’s swinging at pitches that are not even close to the strike zone.

        • Next 100 games? That has to include some in the playoffs. But not enough to get to the WS. Have to improve on that optimism, Vada!

        • Mes just needs to slow everything down a bit. He’s trying to be a hero every at bat.

        • I agree with your assessment, and also have some optimism. I’m also a bit worried about Mes; pop-ups, even when they go 500 feet up, aren’t a good sign. Of course, he had to regress from his amazing start and was bound to go through a rough patch or two, but a small regression and short rough patch would help a lot.

  8. Check out Sam Lecure’s Twitter post:
    Sam LeCure ‏@mrLeCure 1m
    not too good on my part, but you always sleep much better after a win! thata way boys!

    • Sam the Man ! He almost always comes thru in those situations. He did K Braun and got the slow roller from Lucroy. After 0-2, maybe Gomes was looking for another knuckle curve (I didn’t see it). Gomes is a good and smart hitter/player.

      • Just watched Sam’s 0-2 pitch to Gomes on video. It had a lot of late sink, Gomes went down and got it as if he were looking for it. Most hitters strike out on that pitch.

  9. A good win no matter how you slice it. Maybe not pretty, but good nonetheless. LeCure is starting to look like a RH Marshall now. A dead arm just throwing it up there.
    Jocketty is going to have to address the bullpen issue soon. LeCure and Marshall may be done. Parra is very inconsistent now. Which Ondrusek and Hoover show up on any given night? Broxton and Chapman coming off injuries and may not be able to go more than two outings in a row.
    Who knows what Cingrani will bring to the bullpen if that is his destination?
    Some hard personnel decisions are going to have to be made with the bullpen, and then go out and get two good relievers. Shop early. The help is needed now.

  10. I don’t agree about LeCure being “done”, but of course you’re right that middle relief is a big weakness right now. And Broxton’s been great but his fastball velocity is on a steady decline, he can’t maintain what he’s been doing in any case. I don’t think Cingrani is moved to the bullpen. Jumbo Diaz has been dominating at AAA. Should he be brought up ?

  11. Chapman had a reason to throw up and in to Lucroy on the first pitch. After Lucroy’s walk off HR against Chapman last year on a slider, he had a big mouth after the game, saying that it was “easy to look for Chapman’s fastball and slow down the bat on his slider.” Much more satisfying than the up and in pitch was Chapman’s striking him out tonight on a slider.

      • I also want to see him drill Utley in the ribs, won’t happen this year. Still remember Utley’s phantom HBP on an 0-2 count against Chapman in the 2010 divisional series. And Utley’s done his “I’ll turn into the pitch so it skims (or at least looks like it skims) my sleeve” trick several times against the Reds since then. If he wants to reach first on a HBP, make him earn it.

  12. Loved to see Cozart and Hamilton get big hits in the 9th. Hamilton can hit a fast ball, he should cut down on the bunting until the corner IFers move back.

  13. Kris Davis seems to be Homer’s nemesis. In 5 games against Homer, he now has 3 HRs and a double. But I agree with Homer challenging with him with a fastball in the 7th, given the 2-0 count. With a 4 run lead, you don’t want to walk the lead off hitter.

  14. I was thinking the exact same thing about the Price press conference during tonight’s game. It really feels like deja vu — bunts left and right, pitchers playing narrow roles and continuing to leave pitchers in past their expiration date.

    I wanted Joe Maddon. Instead, it’s almost like Dusty never left. Meet the new boss… same as the old boss…

  15. Big game on Saturday ! Gallardo is the toughest starter the Reds will face in this series and Latos making his first start of the season. If the Reds win that one, get out the brooms.

  16. Let’s hope Latos can keep his emotions under control if the ump isn’t giving him the calls or the defense falters. Latos is his own worst enemy. I do love his passion though. Am very excited for tomorrow.

  17. Big win tonight. Chapman and Broxton are the only consistent and productive BP arms. Not good. That needs to change. Price has got to manage high leverage situations better. If this team had a legitimate LF, look out. We’d be a WS caliber team. I am fine with Cozart at SS, gold glove defense. We need a LF.

  18. How is Homer not listed as a negative? Not a good performance there, but I guess it was enough to keep the Reds in the game. I do appreciate Billy being listed as a positive without any caveats about how terrible he is though!

  19. I thought Cozart quietly had a fantastic game. The defensive was a pleasure to watch, it really was a difference maker. Without getting to see them on tv much, last night was a clinic in professional fielding. And Garza… man, that just makes me smile.

    Would still rather see Bruce hitting behind Joey if we’re going to be on the topic of things Price has talked about but done less of. BP tends to hit pretty good in Milwaukee.

    And my obligatory “I hate Carlos Gomez” comment: The way he slid at home for no real reason on the double by Aramis annoyed me. Because it has to. Because it’s him.

    • Absolutely. When you can get that kind of offensive contribution paired with some terrific defense by your shortstop, well, to me he was the difference between winning and losing.

  20. Thought crossed my mind to use Broxton, not Chapman, in the 7th but I know what you’re saying. Mangers get locked in on rotations. LeCure is usually pretty reliable.

  21. A) I don’t think this is the best game for the point you’re making. Third game in a row for Chapman, start of two big series against NL Central opponents. Bottom line: it’s hard to manage a bullpen with two reliable arms (which is why I think they have to put Cingrani in the pen for the time being.)

    B) Latos was on the 60 day DL, so his activation requires a 40 man roster move, not just a DL trip for Marshall or a demotion for Cingrani, right? Thanks for your service, Mr. Bernadina.

    C) Nice recovery to get the win.

    • Actually, I don’t think they ever replaced Francis’ spot on the 40-man when they DFA’d him and then he was picked up on waivers. I believe they are still at 39. Of course they will have to make these decisions when Marshall and Hannahan come back. Roger the Shark’s time is coming.

  22. Agreed. And from what I saw of Broxton last night (fastball barely topping 90), it’s a good thing we didn’t use him more than one inning. At some point, you do have to trust your relievers to do their job. That said, I’m not 100% sold on Sam this year. There’s something lacking with him that is troubling.

  23. It´s lovely to see the armchair-Managers talking like they know it all. Chapman, entering yesterday’s game had pitched in 2 consecutive games and Price is being criticized for not letting Chapman pitch 2 INNINGS in a 3RD GAME IN A ROW !!. .
    Of course, then the relentless rant keeps on going, conveniently leaving out the fact that a one run game in the 9th is a high-leverage situation, especially this one after blowing the lead against the division leader. Truly Amazing.

    • That’s a fair point about Chapman having pitched the previous two days. But that’s still not an argument against using him in the seventh as opposed to the ninth. If he’s good for an inning, give him one that you know is crucial. The obvious problem with your argument about the importance of the ninth inning is that there was no guarantee that situation would arise in the game. Of course, if when you’re sitting there during the seventh inning you know there will be a one-run lead in the ninth to protect, you can save Chapman for that. But it should go without saying that the manager doesn’t know that then. If Ondrusek gives up a run or two in the seventh (not exactly a wildly improbable event), Chapman may never have even made it into the game.

      • Quoting your words, the obvious problems with your argument are: a) You cannot throw Chapman and/or Broxton in there every single game. At some point you will have to trust the other 5 relievers. b) Having agreed that Chapman barely could pitch one inning, you still had to deal with the 8th AND 9th with no Lecure or Chappy. c) Broxton could only pitch ONE inning (Chapman dixit). d) At what point you´d bring Chapman in? With a 2 run lead, one out and a really effective/reliable groundball pitcher like Lecure?. If Price were to be bashed for is for leaving Homer too long after the home run.

  24. The Old Cossack wants to believe that LeCure still has the magic in his arm to strand inherited baserunners at will, but unlike previous seasons, Lecure’s success in 2014 appears to be pure smoke and mirrors. Hoover’s continued inconsistency, Marshall’s lack of effectiveness, Parra’s lack of effectiveness and Ondrusek’s being Ondrusek leaves the Reds bullpen with too many holes to plug. Unless the Reds are willing to DFA Bernadina in favor of adding Jumbo Diaz to the 40-man and 25-man rosters, the starters better plan on going no less than 7 full innings and regularly pitching 8 or 9 innings. Unfortunately, Cingrani almost has to go to the bullpen to provide another effective option besides Broxton and Chapman.

    The concept of high leverage simply escapes major league managers, not just Bryan. I noticed another comment (I don’t recall who deserves the credit) referencing the lack of a specific high-leverage statistic compared to the ‘save’ statistic. Perhaps if such a statistic existed that specifically rewarded the importance of a high-leverage situation, more managers could understand and recognize the importance of high leverage situations.

  25. The Reds clearly need to improve the pen. It’s been a fact since day one. Today, in fact yesterday, they should put Marshall back on the DL and move Cingrani to the pen in his place, AND they should send Hoover down to work on his delivery, and promote Diaz.

    Overnight the pen would get a huge boost. Ondrusek and Parra could go back to being the long relievers, rather than pitching in important innings, and Cingrani and Diaz would probably do way better than Marshall and Hoover have in the middle innings. Considering those two have a have combined 5.86 ERA and have walked 31 in 43 innings.

  26. Tonight’s lineup:

    BHam – cf
    Frazier = 3b
    Votto – 1b
    BP – 2b
    Bruce – rf
    Ludwick – lf
    Pena – c
    Cozart – ss
    Latos – p

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