Titanic Struggle Recap

Game 95: Hang with us. We’re coming.

Final R H E
Pittsburgh Pirates (49-46)
3 5 1
Cincinnati Reds (51-44)
6 9 2
W: J. Cueto (10-6)   L: F. Liriano (1-7)   S: A. Chapman (21)
Box Score  |  StatsDepth Chart  |  FanGraphs Win Probability

The Good

Chris Heisey’s hustle all the way into second base on a pop fly to the RF line, followed by a Devin Mesoraco walk paid huge dividends when Kris Negron slipped the surly bonds of earth to the delight of 35,022 in attendance.

Billy Hamilton followed shortly thereafter with a drive that hit the padding painted with the yellow line in left field so hard it momentarily turned blue. Hamilton would not score, but it left me thinking where this power surge from Billy’s bat has come from. The book on Hamilton was that he was a lightweight hitter who could be successfully busted inside.

That book is in the process of being re-written.

Three innings later, Jay Bruce would walk and Mesoraco would bring him all the way around on a double to deep left center field.

Heisey had three hits today. Mesoraco had two and is now batting .304 / .375 / .609.

Jumbo Diaz and Jonathan Broxton each pitched hitless innings in relief.

Aroldis Chapman struck out the side in the ninth. He’s now pitched 30 innings 95 games into the season. We need to see more of Mr. 106 in the remaining 67 games. Amirite?

The Bad

In the bottom of the 4th, with the bases loaded, one out, and a 2-0 count, Todd Frazier decided that taking an ugly swing at a ball out of the strike zone was the credible thing to do. Even if Todd didn’t know that Liriano had already walked six in the game, he should have known that having walked the two previous batters, the Pirate starter was struggling mightily with his control. Once he took a called strike a pitch later on a backdoor breaking ball, he was basically swinging defensively for the rest of the at bat. Just shows how one poor choice can define an at bat. Two innings later, Frazier would hit his 19th homer of the year. Just goes to show how one swing can define a day.

Zack Cozart uncharacteristically made two errors today.

The Ugly

Not today.

Not so random thoughts …

“Hang with us. We’re coming.”

This was Todd Frazier’s postgame comment after his walk-off double on May 4th sealed a 3 out of 4 series win against the team who owned the best record in baseball: the Milwaukee Brewers. The Cincinnati Reds Baseball Club is now as far north of .500 as they have been all season. Five Reds are headed for the All Star Game in Minnesota (none of them named Bruce or Votto). The Big 162 says make preconceived judgments at your peril. I mean, Kris Negron. You can’t make this stuff up.

After the rain delay, Johnny Cueto came within a foot of giving up the lead when McCutchen drove a ball into the right field corner that fell about a foot to the foul side of the field—then fanned the 2013 MVP with a 96 mph fastball.

Game of inches, huh?

There will surely be considerable trade talk over the break. But if you really want to see Jocketty go after Alfonso Soriano or Dan Uggla, you are arguing for change simply for change’s sake. Because nothing either of these guys have done lately suggests they could help he Reds the way the current roster is doing.

The Daily Billy:  at the All Star Break, Billy is hitting .285 with an OBP of .319. He’s had 30 extra base hits so far: 19 doubles, 6 triples and 5 home runs. Oh yeah, AND he’s playing Gold Glove center field. How much would you have put down in Vegas on that happening back on Opening Day?

More on Johnny Beisbol from Nick:

 

My Knob Creek Player of the Game: Kris Negron.

I had nice week in Cincinnati watching the Reds club the Cubs at GABP. Now, five days until the Reds follow me home to Yankee Stadium.

And that’s enough.

58 thoughts on “Game 95: Hang with us. We’re coming.

    • Not really a reply to SM, but regarding Aroldis pitching in 30 innings out of 95, that’s a little misleading. Actually, Marty made a somewhat snide remark about that very thing during Sunday’s game. True, the Redlegs have played 95, but Chapman had a little issue with a batted ball meeting his head in ST, and did not appear for the Reds until May 11th (whatever game # that was). A remarkably fast recovery, to the point that many thought he may be rushing things. But he’s been brought along nicely and you can’t argue with the results. I agree we look for more usage in the final 67+ games, but it’s reassuring to know he’s well-rested, recovered and with plenty of rocket fuel in the tank. GO REDLEGS!

  1. Since blowing a save in SF on June 28th, Aroldis Chapman has struck out 14 of the 18 batters he has faced. Over that period he has allowed 3 base runners on only 1 hit. His xFIP is now at 0.69. I don’t know how many innings he’ll throw down the stretch, and I know the ship has sailed on him ever becoming a starter, but what we are witnessing is probably the greatest season by a relief pitcher in baseball history and there’s no reason to think he won’t keep on rolling. As Brantley said during the game, people are going to be talking about this guy in 75 years.

    • There aren’t really words for what he’s doing to batters right now. He makes them look absolutely helpless at the plate. Not just random guys either, everyone who stands up there against him. The guys looking dead red are late. The guys looking dead red then watch a 90 mph changeup clip the zone as their knees buckle. The guys sitting dead red swing over the top of a slider that kisses the back of their shoes.

      I’ve never seen any pitcher so completely dominate hitters.

    • We all–mostly–believe Chapman should pitch more innings (won’t talk about starting). My question: Would he be less effective with a heavier workload? It seems that he loses velocity towards the end of several consecutive days of pitching, as one would expect, so what do you think?

      • This past week Chapman pitched 3 days in a row and 4 out of 5. On the final appearance of that stretch, he struck out all 3 Pirates batters he faced, his final pitch clocking in at 103.7 mph. So I have to disagree about him losing velocity. That’s probably about the limit of number of days in a row he could go, but I think he could easily pitch more than 1 inning in a couple of those appearances. Once he’s up and stretched out, I don’t think throwing an additional 10-15 pitches in an appearance is going to give him any noticeable fatigue.

        • After I posted my original comment I remembered that he had made a number of consecutive appearances during this recent streak. It was last year when this seemed to be an issue, I think, though I will cautiously say that one swallow doth not a summer make.

        • I don’t know – He looks like he’s taken his whole game up a notch this year. I wouldn’t want to make a habit of pitching him 3 days in a row from here on out, but In a 1-run game I don’t think Price will hesitate to bring him in on a 3rd straight day.

      • I think it’s all about preparation and utilization. If he is only used for one inning and rarely in three consecutive games, he is not prepared to pitch more. If he is used more (multiple innings) and stretched out, he will be effective in those situations. With Jumbo and Broxton pitchiung effectively in late relief, there is really no reason to save Chapman for those particular save opportunities when Jumbo and Broxton could fill in if Chapman is not available. I hope Bryan begins utilizing Chapman for more high impact, multiple inning appearances in the 2nd half. It may mean more late inning wins or no decisions than automatic saves, but it should be about the team and not padding stats with meaningless save opportunities.

  2. He didn’t slip any surly bonds, he stayed planted firmly on the ground.

    Nice win by the Reds. The thing you can’t take away from this team is that despite all the “if onlys” from games like last night, the Reds are in a position to win almost every game they play the last month and a half. And despite the frustrating close losses or blown wins, they’ve still won 2/3 of their games. And to top it all off they’ve done it without their biggest stars playing up to expectations, or even playing at all. It’s tough to ask for much more as a fan.

  3. Let me see what those non moves by Jocketty have done for this team. Schumaker has done nothing for this team, Pena has helped little if any, Jumbo is just a stiff, Santiago has been totally useless, he kept Phillips and he sucks, set-up Mesoraco to do most of the catching, let Choo walk so that lightweight could play CF….God, we need a better GM

  4. Also with today’s game the Reds now have the highest run diff in the division and 3rd highest in the NL at +28. ESPN has them at 59.3% probability of making the playoffs versus 54% for the Brewers and 55.9% for the Cards. If Joey and BP can come back healthy and rested in September, this team is going to be dangerous. Bringing in someone like Zobrist or Duda could push them over the top. There’s just no conceivable reason to stand pat at the deadline this year. You have the opportunity to really make a difference in the construction of this team and their chances at doing something big this year.

      • I think Winker and Stephenson are pretty much untouchable. But the other good thing about this year versus recent deadlines is that there are a number of ways you could help our roster. The past few years it has been really specific what we would need to improve which limited the potential trade targets. This year you could add virtually any position player except a catcher and it would help both in the short and long term. Add to that legit pitching talent at every level from and it’s hard to believe that there is NO trade scenario out there.

  5. Not a bad first half, huh?

    If Votto can come back a shadow of himself and hopefully get BP back before the September sprint to the finish, I like these guys chances. For now, I’m taking it for granted that Homer and Mat will be ready after the break.

    Most exciting season since ’10 for me and maybe I have missed only 3 or 4 games.

    Go Reds and Go Redleg Nation!!

    • Tough, tough division this year. Brewers jumped out so far that it was easy to get down on the team. Imagine if they hadn’t fallen off the planet the last 2 weeks. We’d be 4+ games back and probably a little gloomy still. Going to be a very interesting second half.

      • We are really in a position to chart our own destiny. That isn’t a bad place to find yourself.

  6. Not including today, BHam’s numbers beginning June 1: .316/.343/.506 wRC+ = 135.

    That is a pretty fair stretch of games.

    My picks to click in the 2nd half: Hamilton, Diaz, Bruce, and Simon.

    • Now that’s a fun game.. hmmm..

      My picks to click in the 2nd half would be Cueto, Frazier, Latos. Not sure who my #4 would be. I want to say Simon and Hamilton will cool off some. Possibly Leake as well. I want to say that Bailey will step it up but the injuries worry me. I think for my #4 I’ll go way out and say Ondru.

      • I like. Even Ondru, way to step out there and take a chance. He’s been throwing the ball well for a while now.

        • I’ve always had a soft spot for him. I still remember that year he was competing with Chapman for most innings in a row without giving up a run. When he’s on he has electric stuff.

        • The interesting thing about Ondrusek is how loyal the organization has been to him through the lean times. Even in. 2012 when rumors were swirling that he was a high value trade target we almost treated him like he was untouchable. Considering Price was the guy informing everyone what they should expect from him, that should say something. He’s a valuable middle reliever, as much as he makes my blood pressure spike when he comes in.

    • No one is more thrilled by Billy’s last 6 weeks than me (that’s a lie, clearly no one could be more thrilled than CNC) but I think he’s in a hot streak right now. I expect him to come back to earth a bit. That being said, “earth” for him might be something like a 105-110 wRC+ and if you told me that’s what Billy would give us this year alongside GG defense I would have kissed you on the mouth.

      My prediction for the 2nd half is that Mes muscles his way into the MVP conversation legitimately. I think the Pirates fade out of contention and that pretty much rules out McCutchen. I don’t think k Lucroy keeps up his pace and Tulowitzki’s splits catch up with him, along with being on a losing team. There’s really no other runaway candidate. Mes hopefully gets the Joe Mauer catcher’s bump. And maybe he gets a timely hit in the ASG to up his profile. I don’t think he has a real shot at winning, but I could see him coming in 2nd or 3rd.

      • My big worry and the reason I didn’t predict Mez is that he has some of the same weakness that Todd had last year. If you give him soft stuff away he tends to bite on it, especially in situations where it seems like he’s telling himself “we need a hit here” like with runners on. That could just be me reading too much into things but that’s what I’ve observed. Even if he cools down he’s still miles better than we’ve had in a while behind the plate as far as offense goes.

        • David Ross had one great year for us. But Mes’ pace for output eclipses Taubensee or Ross. This will be the most prolific offense production for a Reds catcher since 1980.

          Time to extend this young man!

    • What no one ever talks about is Billy’s eye. He gets strikes called on him that Votto never would and he doesn’t swing at balls that Bruce, Frazier, Ludwick, Mesarco, Cozrat, and any of the bench guys do. Pitchers hate to walk him – who is the worst guy you could walk on the team? So he tends to get a good pitch to hit, and he’s been hitting them. Obviously his speed has been a great asset, but if anything he’s caught on the base paths way too often. He’s come through where people did not expect him to and has been defienct at times on the bases. Amazingly quick bat which why I think he can lay off bad pitches. He’s special.

      • His stolen base numbers should improve. Remember he has seen pitchers move for the first time.o as he learns pitchers his numbers should go up.

      • It is amazing that his base running success is the biggest knock on his game right now. That speaks volumes for his performance to date.

        I have made him my new favorite player. I haven’t had that kind of loyalty to a player since Jr. retired.

  7. Seems like NL Central is going to be the most exciting division to watch post ASG break. Pumped. Still think we need to swing a trade. Was the possibility of a Dude+Murphy trade for Contreras+one more (sorry I forget) just a rumor?

  8. During 2009 & 2010, Kris Negron put up a .766 OPS, then struggled in
    AAA from 2010 through 2013, never post an OPS >.630, but this season Negron seems to have matured at the plate, posting a OPS of .734 in 240 PA @ AAA. At 28, the ‘no longer a kid’ Negron (he’s 28) may have played himself into the competition for a role with the big club in 2015. Primarily used as a middle IF, Negron can play every position except catcher. Negron doesn’t steal a lot of bases, but he is highly efficient when he does steal. He made a really nice stab on a hard ground ball up the middle today, even though he couldn’t make a throw on the play. I don’t know if anyone saw this coming after last season, but the Reds surprisingly released HRod in spring training.

    • If Kris, Ramon and Zack can just hold down the fort at 2B/SS until BP is healthy or a trade for a more everyday player is made, that would go a long way this season.

  9. Really interesting having Pena at 1B while Cueto was pitching. Whenever Mes would go to the mound, Pena would join him. When Cueto started getting frustrated you could hear Pena shouting at him and towards the end he made a couple solo trips to the mound without Mes. I really like that dynamic, especially for Cueto since he basically gets two catchers to confer with and still has his guy. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Pena there whenever Cueto pitches until Votto’s back.

    • Whatever keeps our monster’s in the lineup I’m all for. Mez swings at every pitch like it said something terrible about his mother.

    • Cool insight. Pena has been a great pickup. If you need a replacement level backup catcher, make sure you dont pay much and he is high character/speaks spanish. Pena has been worth way beyond his stats.

      • The value of a catcher who speaks spanish is really a good point. Every catching prospect should keep that in mind. The value of speaking japanese or korean would be limited, but spanish on a catching resume could prove invaluable. Coaches could also benefit from some focused linguistic lessons.

  10. I like Negron, his versatility is valuable. Diaz could be HUGE for us in the 2nd half. Barnhart filled in admirably. I hope to see Felix Perez soon. The AAA Bats have been very helpful to the Reds with all the injuries. Hopefully Soto starts to hit like he has been in AAA. Contreras could help, same with Partch. I hope Walt lets the kids play while Votto and BP are out. Soto at 1B, Negron at 2B with Santiago.

  11. Great series win by the good guys!!!! I’m so happy how this team closed out the 1st half!!! I will admit that I had my doubts they could be the comeback team that they used to be known for a few years back! I’m glad they’ve made me eat crow!!! Being 1.5 games back is an amazing accomplishment w all the injuries and w some of the crazy loses this team has had to come back from. I love what Price is doing for the most part and think he deserves a bunch of credit for keeping this team in the right mindset to keep fighting and scratching!!! 2nd half is going to be a blast redleg nation!!!!

  12. I wonder what people and analysis machines would have had for the reds record wise at the start of the season for them at the ASB if you put in the number of games missed to the DL by all of our key players and a rookie manager and rookie LO hitter and CF.

  13. I said at the beginning of the season I wouldn’t have a problem with the front office letting this season go, putting more emphasis on building up and developing the minors again.

    As far as the big club is going, who would have thunk of these results. Essentially being lead by a rookie CF, (essentially) a rookie C, and a 3rd year 3rd baseman, not our consistent MVP caliber player, not our GG 2nd baseman, not our slugging RF. Un-freakin’ believable.

    But, what I like is what I thought we would see, what I was hoping for, an entirely different emotion of style of play from the players and team. We haven’t seen this kind of hustle since 2010, if that. The players seemed energized since opening day. Like I said the last several seasons, it seems like the players weren’t going out and taking wins, playing to win, etc.; it’s seemed like they were waiting for the other team to make their mistakes for us to win. Good teams don’t play waiting for the other team to lose the game. Good teams play to win the game. This team seem more interested in going out and getting the win, instead of playing “the marathon” of a previous regime. I said before, I almost wouldn’t care if they went 0-162. Just play like you want to win every game. Or, at least, most of the games. Like with the last game against the Cubs, I didn’t have a problem with playing all the subs. We’ve won the series, just won 4 in a row on that series; it was time for the subs to get some time. Rather than “the marathon”, run your series of 100 meter sprints, then take a break. It makes for a much more entertaining style of play if not more of a winning attitude.

    I mean, 6 games above 500 ball, not only for the season but also against teams with a 500+ record. We haven’t seen that for a long time.

    But, now, the trick. Similar reason why you don’t want to extend a rookie after a good season, can they keep it up? And, as I stated, I almost don’t care if they don’t win another game. As long as they play like they want to win, I can sit back and be happy.

  14. Could it be that with Votto and BP on the DL the younger players are stepping up because they can no longer sit back and rely on the “Big Boys” to win the game for them? Or just maybe they are starting to come together as a whole? Maybe, just maybe Price and Jockety know what they are doing? Nah….. ;)

    • Hamilton, Devin, and Frazier have been doing it all season. Votto hasn’t done much of anything all season. BP has been batting his “baseball card” and, thus, not grade offensive force either.

    • I wonder (suspect, maybe) the same thing. A little embattled fortress mentality can be good thing. Of course, BH and Mes and Frazier have been outperforming expectations most of the season, though I don’t believe that any of them are playing over their heads.

      • To a degree, I agree. I mean, if these players all had 3-5 years experience on them with success prior to this season, then yes. But, I do believe this is where these players can operate. The question mark will always be, can they repeat it? What happens once the book gets back out on them.

        • Guess this is where the eye test comes in. For a couple of months now, I haven’t seen Bham struggle with any particular pitch: fastball, curve, change-up, or slider. Last I checked, this was reflected in Fangraphs more detailed analysis.

          Month-by-month, Hamilton’s slash lines:
          April .245/.280/.330 wRC+ = 67
          May: .260/.301/.351, 79
          June: .327/.348/.500, 134
          July: .308/.357/.538, 146

          From this data, we may be able to determine who is doing the adjusting. Interesting comment from Billy Hatcher about Hamilton: “He works too hard”.

          I’m sky high on the kid in the second half. Who would have guessed that but it’s backed up by evidence and logic.

          If Todd can lay off the outside and low pitches, or go to the opposite field with them, he should remain close to his 1st half numbers and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that he exceeds them. The guy is becoming a professional hitter and not just a banger.

      • I never look at what Choo is doing in TX, but did today because they are talking about a fire sale there…. including Choo.

        We would not trade Billy for Choo straight up right now based on 2014 production

        • The only two CF’s I would trade Hamilton for are Trout and McCutchen. And I might even be able to be persuaded not to for McCutchen just because we don’t know what Hamilton’s ceiling is yet.

          Choo’s contract with the Rangers was ludicrous from the start and it looks like it’s going to be even worse when it’s all said and done. Luckily they have deep pockets.

  15. Agreed about Frazier, Mesoraco, and Hamilton carrying the team. The forgotten man is Bruce. If he ends the season with his normal stats, he pushes this team over the top and into the World Series conversation.

    • I think Bruce could catch fire and stay that way. Very high on Jay Bruce in the second half. Bailey too if his health allows.

  16. Bruce and Bailey are my post ASG Reds to rock. I too think Hamilton keeps it up because he is adjusting so well.

    I am nervous about the health of Lecure and Latos. I think Diaz and CC find a way to stay up north and the Reds will be better for it.

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