06/18/2014

Even-steven

Final R H E
  Cincinnati Reds  (35-35) 11 14 0
  Pittsburgh Pirates  (34-37) 4 7 1
 W: Simon (10-3)     L: Volquez (4-6)
 Fangraphs Win Probability |   The Worldwide Leader’s Box Score    |   MLB Game  Videos

Positives

After Devin Mesoraco was ruled safe at home with the Reds’ sixth run on a play when he was clearly out, FanGraphs calculated the Reds’ win expectancy at 97.3 percent. Billy Hamilton’s line drive single to right field raised their chances to above 99 percent. Clint Hurdle is no idiot. It’s surprising more of the game’s participants didn’t follow his lead and get an early start on dinner in the Steel City.

Lots of Reds players got hits and scored runs. The seven-run third inning was the team’s best offensive frame of the season. Included was a smattering of aggressive base running, good to see. Special note was Todd Frazier going from first to third on Joey Votto’s single to left-center.

Negatives

None.

Not so random thoughts

On Thursday, April 24, the Reds beat the Pirates in Pittsburgh to improve their record to 11-11. They then headed to Atlanta where they were summarily swept in a three-game series by the Braves. Tonight is the first time since then that the Reds have achieved an even-steven record. To get back to .500, the Reds won six out of seven after losing the first two games of the Dodgers series.

The Reds moved to within two games of the Cardinals in the loss column.

Over the past seven games, the Reds have averaged more than six runs. With the bats hot and Homer Bailey pitching at the scene of his first no-hitter, you’d have to seriously consider risking the wrath of Pirates fans and taking a broom to PNC Park tomorrow afternoon, if you’re a Reds fan.

Raise your hand if you had J.J. Hoover scoring a run in this game.

Edinson Volquez pitched four seasons for the Reds, 2008-2011. It’s nearly impossible to comprehend, but in 2008, Volquez went 17-6 and represented the Reds in the All-Star game. Over the next three years, Volquez won a total of 13 games. He pitched the Game One of the 2010 NLDS against the Philadelphia Phillies, the night Roy Halladay no-hit the Reds.

Two things occurred to me watching Volquez struggle in the third tonight. First, I thought of all the times he pitched exactly like that for the Reds, yet with a seemingly unlimited rope from Dusty Baker. In 2011, Volquez started 20 games for the Reds, including Opening Day, and logged a 5.71 ERA.

Second, it pointed out how much the Reds starting pitching has improved since Edinson Volquez came to the Reds. In 2008, while he was brilliant, the overall ERA of the Reds rotation was 4.97 (compared to 3.43 today) and their FIP was 4.75 (3.95 today). That season, Homer Bailey made eight starts, was 0-6 with a 7.93 ERA. Aaron Harang was 6-17. Johnny Cueto was 9-14 with a 4.81 ERA. Josh Fogg — Josh Fogg — made 14 starts for the 2008 Reds, with an ERA of 8.23. Someone named Aaron Pettyjohn started a game and gave up eight runs in two innings.

I’ve given Walt Jocketty plenty of criticism the past year about failing to improve the Reds offense. It’s only fair to acknowledge his wildly successful efforts to assemble a tremendous starting rotation. And Bryan Price, who has suffered his share of disapproval here, has also played a crucial role in its development. Edinson Volquez’s all-too-painfully-familiar performance tonight made me appreciate that.

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! 96 Comments

  1. Billy Hamilton is good! He is my lead off hitter every day!

    • There are better ones out there, but no one we could get with any trade or for MLB minimum salary. People on this site need to look elsewhere to blame for the overall offense. Billy has the same WAR as Votto and better than everyone else.

      • Except Todd i meant to say.

      • Billy’s WAR is largely due to defense (which has been spectacular), so no comparison using Billy’s WAR to support him offsensively should be used.

        With that said, his recent performance is extremely encouraging!

  2. If the Reds win tomorrow, it will be their first winning record of the year.

    • Would be nice to be above .500 and within 5 games of the lead by the All-Star break. Speaking of the All-Star Game… think it’s fair to say that Simon will be our lone representative. We aren’t close in voting for any position since our stars have been injured and Cueto’s ERA will be overlooked without enough wins and Chapman is down the save list as well. Frazier deserving but no respect.

      • I agree with you about Simon, but I find it hard to believe that Cueto gets left off this team, and It would not surprise me one bit to see the Toddfather as a coaches selection. Especially if he keeps pounding longballs.

      • Cueto has been one of the best 3 pitchers in MLB this year. Simon doesn’t even crack the top 15, I’d say.

        If Cueto and Frazier get left off, it’s because of the NL All-Star manager, which we all know isn’t fond of the Reds. At least he’s no LaRussa.

    • It would also be their first sweep of the year.

  3. I nominate the entire reds starting lineup be put in the positives.

  4. Woohoo feels good to be at .500 now to keep em coming. We are better than the Brew Crew and st. Louis! We can do it with some hot hitting and with our starting five.

  5. I just got my first look at the play at the plate, and what the heck? I’m glad the call went the Reds’ way, but are the umps trying to make a mockery of calls like that to get the rule eliminated? Or at least more clearly defined? As I understand it, they didn’t even make Price use a challenge, agreed to a replay on their own.

    A pleasure to see somebody else, especially in our division, fall for the potential of Volquez. His stuff can be so good, but it never lasts for more than a few starts at a time before it falls apart.

    • I dont think it was called interference, the tag was missed.

      • It wasn’t a tag play , , it was a force play, right? Unless they were saying Martin’s foot wasn’t touching home plate. Just odd…..

      • When the Reds scored on it, it was interference on a force play. When the Pirates scored on it, it was a missed tag.

        • Even the Reds broadcasters and Mesoraco thought the interference/obstruction call on Martin was awful. How was he supposed to get a force out without having his foot on the base ? He played it like a first baseman, left Mes a sliding lane, that rule needs to be rethought on force plays.

        • When the Pirates scored, it wasn’t a missed tag. Ruled out on the tag then overturned because replay showed his hand touched home first.

        • Martin WAS blocking the plate BEFORE he received the ball. It doesn’t matter that he cleared out AS he took the ball. Rule states that you can’t block the plate WITHOUT the ball. (see the replay)

          That said, it was a good call, but a bad rule.

        • Kind of funny, because we have been fighting over this rule in little league for years. You cannot block the plate without the baseball…..Period.

    • Lost in the discussion of the call on the force out at home, was Mesoraco’s base running on the play. Mesoraco was a runaway locomotive coming down the line from 3B, but the really impressive thing was the line Mesoraco chose coming home. He really stretched the inside boundaries of the baseline trying to position himself to make the throw home as difficult as possible. Mesoraco’s hard running, aggressive approach to the plate and hard slide made the enforcement of the rule, as written, come into play. I like the intent of the rule, but the mechanics and wording of the rule certainly require additional adjustments. Kudos to Mesoraco for his hard, headsup baserunning on the play.

      • Agreed. Love the kid’s enthusiasm and base running. A locomotive is perfectly evocative. (I always worry about his hamstring, but I guess I need to get over that.) Love watching him play.

  6. Wow! Josh Fogg. Now that you mention his name I do remember watching him pitch for the Reds. But as for Aaron Pettyjohn I have zero recollection of him ever pitching for the Reds. I’m not doubting that he pitched for the Reds, its just a reminder of how players can come and go so quickly.

    • Probably because no one named Aaron Pettyjohn ever pitched for the Reds. I believe a guy named Adam Pettyjohn had a decent year and Louisville and pitched the last game of the season for the Reds, not faring too well.

    • Josh Fogg was the Gator closer when he was at Florida. He had no business being a starter. Hopefully, that isn’t the case for the Virginia closer we drafted in the first round this year!

      • Cingrani has faired a bit better in his transition from college closer to starter, although he was a starter his first 3 years of college.

        • Dang I had the same thought but I guess you posted it before I was done typing

      • All I can say to that was Tony Cingrani was a closer in college and look what he did as a starter. 2.90 ERA last year

      • Go Gators!!!!! Sorry, but we don’t get Gator mentions on here very often, so I wanted to recognize the shout out! Once again…..GO GATORS!

        • Good to see another Gator-Reds fan! Yes, born and raised in G’ville, after moving around a bit, landed in Jax. Go out to see AA Pensacola Wahoos whenever they come to Jax to play the Suns, saw Stephenson pitch last series, next series in July, I’ll be there!

  7. Glad to see the jumpers have moved back off the ledge.

    I’m happy to have been firmly on the Toddfather bandwagon since before the season started, as well as on the Hamil-train, though admittedly standing near the exit.

    This team may not make the playoffs, but I think they’ll be competitive the rest of the way.

    • Where’s all the “time to have a fire sale, and rebuild” nattering nabobs of negativity now. Maybe the team being at full strength makes a difference after all. Go Reds!

      • Tune in next time the Reds lose 2 in a row/fall below ,500/ are 10+ out

      • Agree. I complained at times about poor approach. You know those TOOTBLANS and 5-pitch innings against Ryu in LA. But I never had a problem with actually losing because we weren’t at full strength.

        It’s just when the home team takes a poor approach to the game that gets me. The good guys will be in there until the end… you know, so long as they’re not being dumb.

        • Believe me, earlier in the season I have said more than once “cue the Benny Hill theme music” But I never thought the Reds should tear everything down and start from scratch, like some were suggesting.

        • The difference is Votto is engaged and playing like it matters, and it shows in the other players. Just a better product to watch on the field. He has to lead on the field with his effort.and that defensive play he made last night is a great example of him coming around. Love It!

      • “nattering nabobs of negativity” — very nice alliteration. 2 points for you.

  8. Tony Campana! We finally pick up another game on the Brew Crew. Good day to be a Reds fan.

  9. Not sure if I do not remember correctly, But is this the first time the Reds have won the first 2 games of a series all season long, not sure if this is unique but I can recall over 5 times the Reds lost the first 2 this season

  10. Brewers have lost to Arizona’s last at bat.

  11. I have lost reception on both satellite’s tonight due to storms. Time to go.

  12. Finally at .500. The Reds hopefully will take off now. The BP just needs to stabilize and settle down. Our offense will be fine, things seem to be starting to click. Our rotation is filthy and our defense is the best in baseball. What a waiver claim Simon is. 35-35 thru 70 games. 92 left.

  13. Daily Billy: 3-6, 3 RBI, 2B, 2-2 wRiSP, Raising AVG to .278, OBP to .316, SLG .400, enjoy watching this rookie get better.

    • Thank you!!! It is amazing to me that we have a rookie who has 3 3-hit games in a row and 4 multi-hit games in a row, yet is barely mentioned anywhere on this site. Everyone here was ready to send him back to Louisville or move him to 8th in the order. Where are all these people now??? I understand he is hot and will cool off, but I expect to be watching BH leadoff for the Reds for many years to come.

      • Trust me there are far more believers than non-believers, it’s just that great game after great game has taken its toll on the faithful’s energy. His good deeds are not going unnoticed.(Smiley face)

        • I think you’re right, NC. Many believers in Billy here.

          Although, I think there’s a contingent that no one wants to admit exists. To the Billy Bandwagon Drivers, it’s either “believer or non-believer.” I personally believe he’s a fine major league ballplayer and I’m happy to have him on the team. In that regard, I’m a “believer.”

          With that said, I still think he shouldn’t bat leadoff until he proves he can get on base consistently outside of a hot streak. His bunting needs to improve (seems maybe it is, of late) and he needs to learn to take more walks. Leadoff hitters can’t have alternating spells of .150 for 2-3 weeks and then.450 OBP for 2-3 weeks. They need to be far more consistent if an offense is going to click.

          Just my opinion! Also, for full disclosure, I’m likely buying a Billy Hamilton jersey in the near future.

        • I hear you and this where my view may differ from yours and many others: even though he certainly can not keep the current pace up, I see this as far closer to the Billy Hamilton we will know and love. This to me is more about an evolution than a mere hot streak.

          I absolutely respect your opinion and anyone else on the matter but my position is set in concrete on this guy, and has been since what I observed in September and ST. IMO, injuries are the only thing that can sidetrack this.

        • Fair enough. 🙂

          I hope you are 100% correct going forward! Since I generally tend to be a contrarian, I’m generally happy when I’m wrong.

      • I think saying “everyone here was ready to send him back to Louisville or move him to 8th in the order” is pretty far from reality.

        I can’t recall anyone seriously saying he should go back to Louisville, unless people were over-reacting in Game 1 against Wainwright. He’s good defensively and, almost on that alone, is worthy of a roster spot. His offensive explosion of late is just icing on the cake.

        Moving him to 8th in the order isn’t far-fetched, and definitely not everyone shares that view. Even after this amazing hot streak, he’s got a .316 OBP. Which is very sub-par for a lead-off hitter. If he can get that to .325 and maintain it all the way through August or something, I’ll agree leadoff is the place for him. Until then, it’s not insane to explore other options.

        Although, as Jason Linden always says, lineup doesn’t matther that much, which is true. But it does matter (as Steve always say). No reason not to try to maximize everything you can, even for a few runs over the season.

      • I would like to clarify the Old Cossack’s viewpoint in the Billy Hamilton debate since I think it represents more than just the Old Cossack’s opinion.

        I am a huge Billy Hamilton fan and I look forward to Hamilton’s maturing into a force at the major league level. I do not have a problem with Hamilton’s play, effort, commitment, desire or results. I have a problem with WJ’s decision to commit to Billy Hamilton as the Reds CF and leadoff hitter before spring training even started when Hamilton had not yet proven he could produce consistently at the AAA level against AAA competition.

        Hamilton has continued his development as a player and hitter at the major league level, but the major league level is not the place for that development when the development at the minor league level has yet to be completed. I wanted Hamilton to finish his development as a hitter at the AAA level and then be promoted to the major league roster. That didn’t happen. Based on Hamilton’s development at every level he has played, even at AAA in 2013, I had a great deal of confidence that a few more months at AAA was all Hamilton needed to be ready to take on major league pitching. As it turns out, it looks like a few months WAS all he needed, but he spent those few months taking up a place on the major league roster and burning his team control clock rather than than finishing that development at AAA and no one knew how long that development to become major league ready or if that development would occur.

        With all that said, Hamilton is the starting CF and leadoff hitter for the Cincinnati Reds and he looks like he is now ready to handle that role as he works on his continued development like any young major league player, so…GO BILLY GO! RUN BILLY RUN! HIT BILLY HIT! Create and leave havoc (whether it exists or not!) in your wake and help lead the Reds to the promised land.

        • So He’s a super 2… it really only impacts one year of salary.

          Either he proves over his team control years that he has more tools than just speed, or you make a QO in year 7 and let him walk.

        • Super 2 status doesn’t just impact 1 year of salary. Because avery arbitration is predicated by the prior season’s salary, it impacts 4 years of salary.

          The super 2 status for Hamilton is not really the issue now since he will not qualify for super 2 status in his 3rd arbitration season, although depending on the timing of his callup from AAA (if he had started the season in AAA), the Reds may have managed an additional year of control before Hamilton became FA eligible. The over-riding issue was the lack of demonstrated major-league readiness and WJ’s failure to provide or pursue another viable options (and there were viable options available), at least to begin the season until Hamilton fully demonstrated his readiness at AAA.

          From this point, Hamilton is ready and the Reds have 6 years of team control ahead. Hamilton’s future looks bright and possibly spectacular.

  14. And also to mention, Alfredo Simón is leading the National League in wins.

    • NIce touch with the accent mark. Interesting that some in national media pronounce it see-MOAN. Where did this SIGH-min come from? Does he prefer that? Guessing that until this year no one cared or bothered to ask.

      • Last night on mlbnetwork I heard it pronounced see-MOAN. If someone bothered to say it that way, it’s probably correct.

        • He used to go by see-MOAN, but when he came to the Reds, he asked people to start pronouncing it SIGH-min

  15. Kershaw just pitched a no hitter — an error away from a perfect game.

    • Yes Kershaw was amazing, striking out 15. The tv coverage did not emphasize that Hanley’s throwing error blew a perfect game.

  16. My hope throughout May was that they’d be .500 by the break and, with everyone recovered from injuries, poised to make a run in the second half. The fact that they’re there three weeks sooner is a nice surprise. The dots have been there all along, and it’s nice they’re finally connecting them.

    I would, however, vote for putting Simon back out in the 7th and leaving him in far too long as a negative. I realize 7th innings are this season’s Kryptonite, but after throwing 101 pitches through six and having an 8-run lead, there was no reason to let Simon bat for himself in the top of the 7th and continue to pitch when he was clearly gassed. While he silences doubters more and more with each start, I still wonder what his innings ceiling will be.

    Good for Price for letting a single reliever ride it out, match-ups be damned. And good for Schumaker for making me and everyone else who posted in the Heisey thread earlier today eat crow. Happy to do so!

  17. I think that it is becoming clear that Simon has a rubber arm. At his age, innings should not matter that much as you do not want to give a lot of innings to young arms, but his is completely matured. If he falters, then Cingrani and he can change places. I think it was huge for the Reds to get three innings from one bullpen guy (Hoover) Lets remember that Hoover was a starter most of his life, though not a good one. If he gets his confidence, then this bullpen gets a lot better.

    Who now is expendable? Ondrusek? Shut down LeCure? Bernadina? Heisey? Who are the realistic targets?

    • It was good to see Hoover out there running the bases, having some fun. Maybe it will help him remember he’s supposed to have fun. If he calms down and does his thing, it will be big for the Reds. They need a 7th inning guy.

  18. Simon does have a rubber arm, and believe he can pitch 200 innings. We’ll see. For now anyway, I’d like to see Cingrani help in the bullpen.

    • Indeed. He pitched 133 innings between the majors and minors in 2011. Also, at his age innings limits really don’t apply. I think he’s good to go.

  19. The Reds since the return of Votto and Latos: 6-2. Votto made an excellent defensive play tonight, and is hitting well. Seems like his quad is feeling better.

    • Pinson if Joey stays healthy, look out. Great defense from MVP last night. The Reds D can not be overestimated – unreal.

  20. I thought there were going to be jokes about trading for Travis Snider to help the bullpen.

  21. So happy to be at the .500 mark! Still really worried about the pen that the reds have. Gotta get the sweep tomorrow at all costs! Still got a big weekend up with the Blue Jays who are a really good team and SF coming up next week on the dreaded West Coast. Hope SF keeps playing like they’re playing now until Cincinnati gets out of town.

  22. A lot of heroes yesterday but two to point out:

    Alfredo Simon, first to 10 wins in the NL and has been bedrock in the rotation. Congratulations Big Man.

    Bryan Price on selecting Schu to get the start. To pull a red hot Ryan Ludwick looked very questionable, but Price’s instincts paid dividends.

    Let’s go get the sweep!

    • Ditto that. Simon getting to 10…Win’s don’t always tell the whole story , but in this case they do.

      • Just curious what you mean by “the whole story.”

        He hasn’t been anywhere near the best pitcher in the NL. And he’s got the most wins. So…

  23. I was unable to watch the 9th. Could the box score possibly be correct? Did Travis Snider really strike out Joey Votto? That has to be a misprint.

    • I bet Vott skipped the postgame locker room and went back to the hotel in his uniform just to avoid the ball busting he had coming.

      The depth in the batting order is the key to the turnaround.

      Funny how no one cares what Cozart hits when surrounded by very good hitters.

      • No one cares where he hits because 8th is the right spot for him.

        If he was moved back the 2nd all of a sudden, everyone would flip out.

  24. One thing about Volquez I heard Brantley and Kelch talk about on the radio last night that made me very glad the Reds traded him. After Volquez threw about his 6th pitch in the dirt around the plate, they talked about how Hanigan had to go to the ice tubs after every game he caught Volquez. They said that Hanigan was black and blue after catching Volquez’s games. That can take a big toll on a Catcher. I don’t think the Pirates considered their old catcher Russel Martin behind the plate when they signed Volquez.

    • And Martin was not pleased with Volquez when he failed to cover the plate on the wild pitch. Based on his body language, he wanted to big piece of Volquez at that moment.

  25. A lot of rain in and around Pittsburgh. But it is mostly north and east of the city. I think they will get the game in today. Don’t need another makeup game. They already have a 4 game series with the Cubs that will now be a 5 game series because of a makeup game.
    Brooms up !!!

    • I also think they’ll get this one in without long delays, if any at all.

      But even if they do, the Reds make one more trip to PIT Aug. 29-31, so they could easily schedule a DH then if needed. Both teams have some off days around that time (not on the same days), so an extra game in that series wouldn’t be an undue burden.

  26. “Raise your hand if you had J.J. Hoover scoring a run in this game.”

    *chuckle*

    That was bizarre seeing an OF pitch for the first time in who knows how long, to a middle reliever who had never batted before in the majors.

  27. Just some curiosities, perhaps meaningless but interesting to me nonetheless:

    Record in day games: 16-9 (+7)
    Record in night games: 19-26 (-7)

    Record on WED: 8-3 (+5)
    Record on SUN: 8-3 (+5)
    Record on MON: 1-6 (-5)
    Record on SAT: 3-8 (-5)

    The days of the week are probably just anomalies, but there could be something to day/night records. Of course, there are more day games on WED and SUN (and THU) than most other days of the week, so maybe that explains those records.

    The bad news is that the Reds have almost twice as many night games remaining.

  28. Being at .500 is nice for today. But after today, the next 2 1/2 weeks, or 16 games, is going to tell alot about this team. Three first place, division leading teams on the schedule. Those 3 teams have 3 of the 4 best records in MLB. A 10 game road trip west sandwiched in between home serieses with Toronto and Milwaukee. We’ll see what this team is made of over the next 2 1/2 weeks.
    If it hasn’t been done yet, it is time to sound the General Quarters alarm, battle stations all men to their battle stations. Bogeys on the horizon with Toronto, SF, and Milwaukee looming nearby.

    • That’s a great point. Sure wish they would make a bullpen move before that. If it requires a 40 man roster move to get the right guy so be it.

  29. [Your comments were deleted because they violate the guidelines that have been in place at Redleg Nation since Chad started the site a decade ago. They were not directed at the Reds, they were critical attacks on people and writing. Please keep your comments focused on the Reds.]

  30. I just did some looking at Simon’s stat line for the year. I stumbled across something that ‘seems’ a bit odd. Leake has a WAR of 1.0, thus far. Simon? 0.3 WAR.

    I can tell where it’s coming from; Leake walks fewer batters and strikes out more, and Simon has enjoyed some batted-ball luck. Still, even though I know Simon hasn’t been a top 15 or even top 25 pitcher this year, it seems like he’s been at least as good as Leake.

    • If it’s FG, which I suspect it is, that’s because they use FIP for WAR not ERA.

    • Yeah, that’s it. At Baseball Reference (using ERA) they have Simon at 1.5 WAR and Leake at 0.8 WAR.

    • As we’ve mentioned here before, Simon’s ERA (and wins) have been aided by some luck with BABIP and strand-rate. His BABIP: April (.208), May (.247) and June (.289). His ERA is adjusting accordingly:

      April: 1.60
      Now: 3.05
      Last 28 days: 4.45

      Simon’s ERA estimators (FIP, xFIP, SIERA) are all above 4. Mike Leake’s are around 3.50.

      That’s what is being picked up by the varying estimates of WAR.

Comments are closed.

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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