|Cincinnati Reds (32-35)||2||7||0|
|Milwaukee Brewers (41-28)||4||6||0|
|W: Smith (1-0) L: Hoover (1-5)|
|Fangraphs Win Probability | The Worldwide Leader’s Box Score | MLB Series Videos|
Mat Latos pitched six outstanding shutout innings, throwing just 87 pitches. Latos limited the Brewers to two hits and *no walks.* So much for my fear that he’d struggle with command due to the frothy mix of rust and adrenaline. He struck out four the first time through the lineup. It would have been great to see him go deeper in the game, but Bryan Price is the last guy you’d second guess on that decision.
Let this not be obscured by the foul mess that is the Reds bullpen: It is an enormous and fabulous development that Latos looked fit and in mid-season form. Replacing 2014 Tony Cingrani with that Mat Latos is like adding an ace at the trade deadline, except seven weeks earlier. And happily without the GM having to figure out an actual trade.
I absolutely LOVE the
Shin-Soo Choo Billy Hamilton who hits doubles, home runs and walks. (The Billy Hamilton who gets picked off, and throws to the wrong bases, less so.) For the second night in a row, Hamilton delivered a crucial hit late in the game. More of that, pretty please, and you can lead off for my team.
The defense provided strong support all night. Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Ryan Ludwick each made outstanding plays.
It took Logan Ondrusek nine pitches to undo all of Mat Latos’ good work. He walked the first batter he faced. Of course he did, it’s his move. Ondrusek has walked a batter in four of his last five appearances. (The one time he didn’t he faced one batter.) Then Ondrusek grooved the first pitch to Carlos Gomez who lined a single to right. Two batters later, the game was tied. Both runners he allowed on base eventually scored. That Logan Ondrusek was the best option available out of seven choices for the seventh inning in a game against the first place team is equal parts terrifying and mind-boggling.
Manny Parra gave up a run-scoring single to Ricky Weeks, although it was on a weak ground ball. Not really much he can do about that.
J.J. Hoover gave up a two-run homer to Ryan Braun on a belt-high pitch in the middle of the plate. The runner on base was just bad luck (mile high pop up that falls in) but grooving that pitch to Braun is all on Hoover.
Not so random thoughts
The Brewers are good. They aren’t lucky. They hit and hit and hit. All day long. They have above-average starters and decent relief pitching. With the addition of Mat Latos, the Reds now have a rotation that can offset what they lack in offense. But the Cincinnati bullpen just isn’t capable enough for the Reds to be successful consistently against good teams. Good teams like Milwaukee and St. Louis.
The bullpen deficiency has been obvious since Opening Day. Yet the Reds haven’t lifted a finger to do anything about it – either by acquisition or promotion from their minor league clubs. Instead, Walt Jocketty expects Bryan Price to mix/match/patch/fill. With predictable and disastrous results.
In a not unrelated move, the Reds sent Tony Cingrani to the bullpen and placed Sean Marshall on the DL. Marshall has been suffering from general ineffectiveness. With this step, the club decided to keep its sixth starter, a young left-hander, in a long-relief role instead of sending him to AAA where he could continue to develop, work on his secondary pitches and build up his innings count. All things that Jeff Brantley believes are crucial for Cingrani and his future with the Reds.
Even though this move is harmful for Cingrani’s progress, it’s sadly necessary because of the aforementioned dumpster fire in the bullpen and paralysis by the front office. Hopefully this can be a temporary move and Cingrani will get more work than the long reliever has the past few seasons.
But that would mean actually doing something about the personnel in the bullpen. If the Cincinnati Reds are going to compete for the post-season, they need a general manager up to the task.