The Reds take on the Padres in the first game of a day-night doubleheader. They face San Diego pitcher Ian Kennedy, who has pitched well this season so far, as this chart indicates. He’s had virtually the same strikeout rate as Johnny Cueto and a lower walk rate. That’s not to say he’s a better pitcher than Cueto (remember we’re dealing with a sample size of 8 games here), only that so far, based on those metrics, he’s pitched well. The offensively challenged Reds could once again have their hands full.


Bryan Price sends out this lineup. Apparently the Brayan Peña batting second experiment is over. Peña went hitless in his twelve at bats in the second spot. I’m not a fan of Joey Votto batting fourth. His OBP is valuable at the top of the lineup and he’d get about 35 fewer at bats hitting fourth over the course of a season compared to hitting second. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when Devin Mesoraco returns, presumably this weekend.

1. Billy Hamilton (S) CF
2. Skip Schumaker (L) RF
3. Brandon Phillips (R) 2B
4. Joey Votto (L) 1B
5. Todd Frazier (R) 3B
6. Ryan Ludwick (R) LF
7. Brayan Pena (S) C
8. Zack Cozart (R) SS
9. Johnny Cueto (R) P

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

Join the conversation! 331 Comments

  1. every starter has at least one hit tonight…. except Cueto that is.

  2. Nice inning. Way to go Zack.

  3. I really think there is a joke being played on me: first, I see the Ludwick infield single thing, and now Cozart knocking in two. Whoever is manipulating Gamecast is trying to see how ridiculous they can go and keep me hooked. What’s next? Clean inning from Hoover?

  4. Phillips offense has slipped in recent years, but I don’t see his defense declining.

  5. Good day from the old man BP today. While I know what the statistical evidence forecasts based on his age and position, I really hope he is the exception to the rule.

  6. Sweet DP

  7. perfect execution.

  8. Liked the way Brantley described that DP “silky smooth”. Did not like it when Brantley said BP is limping a little coming off the field. Probably nothing (fingers crossed)

  9. When this team is clicking, it’s fun to to watch.

  10. come on Votto! Unwind here and drive so I can stop complaining about you!

  11. When was the last time the Reds had 4 hitters in a single game have 2 hits each?

  12. if that is his strategy maybe he should bat lead off. He apparently can’t hit with runners on the bases in front him, he doesn’t drive the ball anymore so yeah best spot for him in the lineup is either #1 or #8. Only problem with #1 is he is slow as mud.

    • Nope, his best bet is to hit 2nd.

      I mean, walk second.

      • Agree. When all hands are on deck, I hope Bryan places him right there. It is not necessary to try to force a square plug into a round hole.

  13. This is unbelievable by Cueto. Another gem. Let him finish it if he can. The bullpen might be needed early and often in game #2.

  14. wouldn’t this be Cueto’s 3rd complete game if he stays in for 9?

    • Watching MLB network the other night Jim Kaat had 190+ complete games in his career…

  15. Man, lots of bashing on Votto today. He’s slugging .462 so I don’t think he’s quite washed up. The walk-off last week was crushed. I was at that game. The power is still there. Let’s see where he is at the end of the year. I will tell you that I don’t like him hitting 4th. He should be hitting 2nd or 3rd.

    • A lot of that bashing is coming from me. He sucks right now. I”m glad he had that walk off the other night. Even Cozart can deliver a walk off from time to time. But if you want to know the problems with the Reds offense it starts and ends with our 20 million dollar man. He isn’t performing. He isn’t scoring runs and he isn’t driving in runs. So what good is his slugging percentage and OBP when he is not contributing to the Reds scoreline.

      • If only they had statistics that isolated the offensive contribution that players make independent of what other people on their team do. And if only Votto was ranked #18 in MLB in that stat. Yeah, if only.

    • Am I bashing Votto by saying he looks to walk first, swing second? Because I’m really just stating the truth.

      And there’s nothing wrong with that as long as everyone is comfortable with Votto relying on other people to hit and drive him in since he prefers not to be that guy.

      I have no doubt the power is still there, but in Votto’s case, it’s akin to having a Porsche with 3 wheels.

      Again, not bashing, just calling ’em like I see ’em. I think Votto will make a spectacular #2 hitter once the team is healthy around him.

      • Votto’s rate of swinging at fastballs in the strike zone with runners on base is (a) above league average, (b) comparable to other players in his category (Braun, Cabrera, Trout, Bautista).

      • And please make sure you keep in mind the difference between “calling em as you see em” and “the truth.” Because you’re only half right.

        • Yes, but so far this season, Votto is only swinging at 57.7 percent of pitches in the strikezone with runners in scoring position, WAY below league average.

          So I repeat: He is not comfortable being an “RBI guy”, for lack of a better term. And that’s fine.

          I just hope everyone else is ok with him being the guy getting driven in, not the guy doing the driving.

        • Ring, ring.

          CI3J: Hello?

          SSS: Yes, this is small sample size calling. I would like for you to make a statement on 20 at bats.

          CI3J: Sure thing, I’ll post it right now!!

    • Votto to this point has 6 homers in less than a fourth of the season. By my math, that puts him on pace for about 25 on the year.

      The power is obviously still there, but some people just won’t admit it unless he is hitting one out every other game.

  16. Tough call for me. Cueto has pitched so many innings this year (because we needed him) that when he’s got a big lead like this, I’m tempted to just give the ball to Ondrusek and let him finish it to give Johnny a break.

    That said, it’s the first game of a double header, and so you want to save the bullpen as much as possible.

    I still think i pull him.

    • He hasn’t even hit 100 pitches yet. Not that I believe 100 is a magic number. Just ask that high school kid who threw 104 two days ago.

  17. Cozart has breached the Mendoza Line! I repeat, Cozart has breached the Mendoza Line!!!

  18. 3 hits for Cozart.

  19. Man I just hope this is start to Zack’s season. It would go a ways to winning some of these 1-run affairs. Go Cozart go!

  20. Come on Billy, show us something.

  21. It appears that Cueto is going to go the distance this game and save the bullpen. Hopefully this means that Price will have an “all hands on deck” approach to the nightcap.

    With the exception of Chapman’s single inning on Tuesday, the rest of the pen has not pitched since the weekend. Guys should be ready to go and pitch multiple innings if need be. I am ok with Francis starting, but I would go out and get him at the first sniff of trouble.

  22. I saw Doug Gray’s tweet about Mesoraco hitting a HR today. Nice day it is so far today. He is ready, good to go and ready to resume hitting where he left off. This offense needs him back.

  23. It’s absolutely shocking that the same people who most support Billy Hamilton hitting leadoff, are the ones that give Votto so much grief.

    (not shocking at all)

    • Interesting and vice-versa as well. Good observation though.

    • You must really dislike Bryan Price.

    • pure coincidence. Again both of those describe me. Hamilton was hired to steal bases and lead off. Votto was hired to drive in runs and hit for a high average. Who is doing there job?

      • Actually, they were both hired to play baseball to the best of their ability. When we look back on this season in October, I believe we will see that both guys did their job.

      • Some of it may have to do with style of play. I will get plenty of grief but I really don’t care. BHam plays real hard like Rose but is so smooth the comparison doesn’t get made. I have never seen the guy play anything but all out. Joey takes plays off and does get distracted. He is not a dogger but he doesn’t run out every ball either.

        Billy’s style play does concern me as far as injuries go but I don’t want him to change his approach and hope he never does, Peter Edward Rose – like.

    • Well, I fully support Hamilton hitting leadoff, AND I think it’s ridiculous to give Votto so much grief.

      I believe BHam will end up being one of the better leadoff hitters in the league within a couple of years. And Votto, while not the player he was in 2010, is still one of the best players in the league, and I fully expect his stats at the end of the year will support that.

      • Did Joey contribue to the score today? Nope. Then again neither did Hamilton. But look at the salaries too. Votto isn’t earning his paycheck. I can’t believe you guys are defending his season. He isn’t scoring and he isn’t driving in runs. Yeah he walks alot big deal. They could hire a midget and have him play first and pay him 500K a year and he’d walk as much as Votto without ever swinging a bat.

        I”m not saying Votto is done. But right now he sucks (for the position that he was hired to fill and the amount paid to him), he needs some off days. He is the biggest reason why our offense is so stagnant because he is showing for the most part he is not a guy who can drive in runners. He performs best when the bases are empty or when there is no pressure on him to perform.

        If they had a viagra for hitting he would be just fine. Right now Votto isn’t rising to the occasions.

        • Where did you come from? How did you get out from under your bridge? Do you know anything at all about baseball? Why are you so jealous of Votto and his paycheck?

        • He is the biggest reason why our offense is so stagnant because he is showing for the most part he is not a guy who can drive in runners. He performs best when the bases are empty or when there is no pressure on him to perform.

          I’m not sure about the veracity of the rest of your statements, but the fact he doesn’t swing at strikes when there are runners on base is absolutely true.

        • When you state something as a fact and base it on 20 at bats, it just makes you look not very smart. You can get as angry as you want, but I’m sorry, it’s true.

        • (sigh)

          Do you understand trends?

          Ok, how about this:

          In 2009, his second full season in the big leagues, Votto swung at 78.2 percent of the pitches he saw in the strike zone with RISP, ranking him 10th among 155 qualified batters, just slightly behind the grip-it-and-rip-it approach of RBI-machine Miguel Cabrera. Votto’s number dipped slightly to 76.2 percent in 2010, still ranking among the league’s leaders. In 2011, that number fell precipitously to 69.6 percent, just a smidgen above league average. In 2012, it took another big tumble, with Votto’s swing rate plunging to 62.4 percent — No. 121 in the majors if he’d had enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title. Last year, he rebounded to 69.8 percent, once again a tick above league average. So far this season, the bottom has dropped out, with Votto swinging at just 57.7 percent of pitches in the strike zone with runners in scoring position, ranking him 171st among 187 qualified hitters. Those last 16 guys probably batted with their eyes closed.

          Please do some research before you comment.

        • I can read…this is what YOU said.

          Yes, but so far this season, Votto is only swinging at 57.7 percent of pitches in the strikezone with runners in scoring position, WAY below league average.

          You said this, not me. That’s 20 at bats. 20. 20!

        • If you look at the same data for fastballs – the preferred pitch for strike zone aggressiveness – Votto’s rate of swinging inside the strike zone has remained perfectly unchanged from 2010 to 2013 (with the 2012 season an outlier for obvious reasons). I think we can agree that 2010 was Joey’s gold standard hitting season, so comparisons to his sophomore year (2009) are unimportant.

          So if his overall swing rate is declining but his fastball rate has stayed the same all that data proves is that Votto has learned how to discern fastballs from other pitches and he swings at the fastballs where he can do the most damage and swings less at the other pitches. I’d say that’s improvement.

        • Again, trends.

          You said you understand trends, right?

        • So if your point is that there has been a long-term decline in Votto’s aggressiveness at the plate, the data doesn’t support that. If your point is that *this season* Votto’s aggressiveness has dropped, that’s based on an extremely small number of pitches. When that Keri article was published (that’s where we are both getting our data) it showed Votto was swinging at 50% of those pitches instead of 70%. But it was based on a 37 pitch sample size – and the difference between swinging at 50% and 70% is … seven pitches.

          Let’s give the guy with the lifetime stats that Votto has the benefit of the doubt instead of coming to a conclusion based on seven pitches.

        • That’s my point. If you look at fastballs, and not all pitches, there is ZERO trend. If you check the twitter exchange between Kuri and me from that day, you’ll see he admitted that and he had to. His data showed a straight horizontal line from 2010 to 2013, including 2013. And Votto’s swing rate in that situation (fastballs, strike zone, runners on base) was (a) above league average and (b) in the middle of the four other comparable hitters Kuri was analyzing. So there is no trend. There is just April 2014, which is based on seven pitches.

        • I’ve pasted in the graph from the Keri article on fastball swing rates. Check out the data points in 2010, 2011 and 2013. That’s a straight line. If you want to say 2009 should be the baseline, go ahead, but I’ll take 2010 (MVP) as Votto’s gold standard. 2012 can’t be counted because of the knee injury. That leaves you 2014, and that does a “sharp” drop. But again, it’s based on a seven pitch differential. For all we know, it’s reversed since that article was published.

        • Note three things here:

          1. The data points from 2010, 2011 and 2013 are a horizontal line – no trend, no decline. That right there shoots your myth about the trend in Votto’s hitting.

          2. See where the league average is compared to where Votto’s points are in 2010, 2011 and 2013? That’s Votto being *more aggressive* than league average on fastball strikes with runners on base.

          3. See where the other four hitters are, two with higher rates than Votto, two with lower rates? That shows Votto isn’t an outlier.

          Hard to argue with the facts, isn’t it?

        • Sure that’s great….. IF pitchers throw nothing but fastballs. Unfortunately……

        • So now we are to applaud a hitter who sits on fastballs and decides not to do anything with all other strikes thrown his way?

          Here’s the question: what percent of pitches being thrown to Votto are fastballs? You can cherry pick stats all you want, but the fact of the matter is Votto is not swinging at strikes. Believe it or not, if a pitch isn’t a fastball but is still in the strikezone, it’s still a strike.

        • Do the research and get the data then tell us…

          Please do some research before you comment.

        • You’re the one who cited this article, not me. Now you’re not willing to live with an extended discussion of it. That author was the person saying fastballs were the best way to measure aggressiveness, not me. But it makes sense. You want batters swinging at pitches they can handle, not the tougher ones. You keep switching the goalposts. There are plenty of measurements that show Votto is still one of the best hitters in the game. You don’t like those because they aren’t the RBI.

          Look, this is just going around and around. Half the time I think you’re just trying to antagonize people. I doubt I’m going to convince you of anything. After all, you’re the person who thinks he knows more about hitting than Joey Votto. Kind of breathtaking, really.

        • The answer to your question (which is three clicks away, can’t you find this for yourself and make an argument?) is 62.9%. That’s the percent of FB that Votto is seeing this year.

        • And yeah, I’m going to applaud a hitter like Joey Votto. If you don’t want to for your own reasons, because you know better, that’s your right as a brave anonymous commenter.

        • I’m not saying he is having an MVP season. He would probably be the first to admit he is not performing as well as he could, mostly due to a lack of hits. He is still getting on base and hitting for power, though, so it’s not a total loss. And again, look at his stats and see where he is by the end of the season. I bet you’ll find his average back up near .300, along with 20-25 homers and a ton of walks.

          But you make yourself look silly when you say he isn’t rising to the occasion. how quickly you forget a certain walk-off HR just a few nights ago…

        • Good research CI3J. Regardless he is not swinging the bat as often. I really don’t care about pitch type either. Votto is morphing into a 2 hitter and really he is already there. Yes, he has power but he approaches almost all AB’s with a 2 hitters approach. Frazier is showing signs that he maybe a good 3 hitter as is Mes. When JV’s contract goes to $20 million/year, the club will have to decide if it is worth the money to spend on a 2 slot guy.

        • As we have already established, Votto is far too passive to be an “RBI Guy”. This is indisputable; that’s why I said he will make a fantastic #2 hitter, and that’s fine as long as you are ok with letting inferior hitters drive in Votto instead of letting him being the one drive others in.

          This is the problem with Votto, I feel. People feel like he should be the active catalyst of the offense. He is not. He is passive and gets on base. It is up to others to drive in the runs. People want him to be the MVP of 2010 where he was swinging at 47.9 % of all pitches he saw, not the guy he is now who swings at 38.8 % of pitches. You say he can’t “handle” the other pitches? Why not, he did just fine swinging more often in 2010. He sits on his fastballs, which come 60% of the time, and of those 60%, he only swings at 68% of them. That would seem to limit his chances of doing much productive in his at bats, no?

          Face it, the fact of the matter is 2010 Votto is the best he ever was and he is a shell of that now because, by his own design, he has become too passive. He no longer makes the offense “go”; it falls on other people’s shoulders now, even though Votto has shown he is capable of it. This is what I think frustrates people about Votto.

          Me, I’m ok with Votto being this neutered version of his past glory. If he prefers to walk if he doesn’t see any pitches he can “handle”, let him. But how much faith do you have in the rest of the offense to get him in? I feel this is the exact same idea opposing managers have about him, and it explains at lot. Joey Votto may have just out thought himself.

        • Bryan Price, the man who is paid millions to know baseball, the guy who knows more about baseball than anyone on this board ever will, has encouraged Votto to be more aggressive. Votto says he’s not changing, possibly because he can’t “handle” any other pitches.

          So I guess it’s a question of who you trust. Again, if Votto wants to set the bar lower for himself, let him.

        • I think most people, probably even Votto himself, would take the 2010 version of himself if given the choice between what he is now and what he once was. There is no way anyone can say the version of Votto we have now is better than the 2010 version.

          So was 2010 a career year? A blip? An an anomaly? Or… Has Votto simply accepted he’s already in decline and is doing his best to mitigate the fallout?

          This is the question.

        • And Steve, if you think all people who don’t agree with you are just out to “antagonize” you, then you must lead a very interesting life.

        • Anyway, let’s take it to the other thread, if for some reason you want to continue this discussion?

          We can keep talking in circles if you want. I’m not going to convince you of anything. You seem to be perfectly ok with the way Votto is now, and I am as well. There’s nothing wrong with our former MVP being mainly a baserunner, not a hitter. Sure, it’d be nice if he had more speed if that’s what he wants in life, but you can’t always get what you want, I guess.

          Here’s to Joey Votto, King Of The Walk, and a fantastic #2 hitter!

  24. one of the best atbats this season 11 pitch atbats got to love em. Go Brandon go!

  25. That’s an 11 pitch AB from Skip… Nice.

  26. Schumaker just walked with two outs and a guy in scoring position. The Baseball Gospel According to Dale says this is unacceptable. Cut him.

    • You forgot to count Joey Votto’s money.

      • I’m not counting until he is at the $20 mil level. Right now he is a deal but in 2 years we will have to revisit this.

      • Geez, I did, you’re right. As far as I know, Joey Votto isn’t getting paid $20 million so Skip Schumaker can walk with a guy on third. 🙂

    • Touche Al, touche.

  27. Al the guys slumping have had nice games.

  28. I do have a question for CI3J and others who think Votto is looking to walk first and swing second. Why did he swing 3-0 the other night with no outs and nobody on base in the 9th? Votto is very selective but he isn’t up there looking to walk first. He walks a lot but he swings at pitches in the zone at a similar rate to other hitters.

    • Your evidence does seem to say otherwise, but again, it’s a single instance. When looking at a larger sample size, more specficially, with runners on base, I don’t think anyone can debate that Votto let’s more strikes go by than just about any other “elite” hitter out there.

      And again, there’s nothing wrong with that. As long as he gets on base and is generating runs one way or another, be it relying on inferior hitters to drive him in or hitting homeruns with the bases empty, he’s doing his job.

  29. As if Cueto needed to be better, that Cutter he’s added is filthy. He’s gotten a ton of Ks looking with it against RH hitters.

  30. Quoting Gameday –
    Johnny Cueto may be running out of gas after 104 pitches; his fastball has dropped from a high of 95 to as low as 88.

    Yeah, right!

    • The “Scout” on Gamecast may be the dumbest thing ever. That might be one thing that all at RLN agree on.

  31. How Cueto wasn’t the pitcher of the month in April is still a complete mystery to me.

  32. 27,686 turned out for today’s titanic struggle, 27,686.

    • That’s actually pretty good for a day game against the Padres, especially considering it is wet and chilly outside. Good job Cincy fans.

  33. Last I saw, PIT is up 3-2 over MIL bottom of 7, and STL is up 4-2 over the Cubs bottom of 5.

  34. Fantastic game by Cueto.

    • This is really a game where it’s fair to say that a guy had “no hit stuff.” The Padres only got a guy to second base on defensive indifference in the 9th.

  35. Complete game shutout for Cueto. 5-0 Reds.

  36. Its a nice day to pick up 1 1/2 games in the standings.

  37. Great Game! for the record I likes Schu atbat because he forced the pitcher to throw 11/12 pitches.
    Cueto is on fire! Man I am so glad to see this guy performing at this level and we finally scored some runs for him.
    Congrats to Brandon and Zack for some solid offense tonight as well.

    Hopefully Votto saved the magic for Game #2

  38. I say we ice down Cueto’s arm and send him back out to get another win for the Redlegs. (hah! just kidding) Go Reds!

  39. I don’t know if the Reds have ever had a pitcher this good. I really wonder what the chances of him signing an extension this season are – and the sooner the better.

    • Jose Rijo was pretty good.

    • Gary Nolan had a nice 1972 season. Soto and Rijo were both really good. Danny Jackson had a couple nice seasons as a Red… An argument can be made for Cueto though.

  40. Crazy stat, from Twitter: @MLBStatoftheDay: Cueto is first pitcher since 1914 to open the season with 9 straight starts of at least 7 IP and 2 runs or fewer.

    Unbelievable. Johnny B Good indeed!

  41. What can you say? JC is the best pitcher in MLB and we might have to go back several years, or decades, to find a decent comparison. Here’s to Johnny’s health.

  42. Knowing what Bailey got and his numbers, and we already have monies sunk into both Bruce and Votto….what are the Reds looking at for Cueto? Then you have Latos…Can this franchise afford 3 pitchers making over 100 million and two position players making over $100 million…

    • No, I think the Reds only sign one of Cueto, Latos, and Leake. They’ll have to count on Stephenson & Lively being ready. Maybe they can extend Leake for a couple years?

      • Meant to say …extend Leake for a couple additional years in addition to Cueto/Latos?

        If I’m advising Cueto, Latos, and Leake, I’m not letting them sign short extensions…this market is crazy right now, and Walt Jocketty can partially blame himself for that.

  43. Great pitching by Leake and Cueto, and San Diego comes into Cincy and takes two of three. Too many loses of home series with this one scoring one run in each of two games indicates a long season ahead.

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About Steve Mancuso

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky's Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve's thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.


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