Titanic Struggle Recap

Hey, hey…..the Reds won a series!

The Reds won their first series since August 6-7, when they swept the Indians in a short two game series. The Reds got five shutout innings, from the recently recalled from the minors, Dylan Axelrod. The Reds offense exploded for 7 runs and 11 hits, including 6 earned runs off the Cubs best starter, Jake Arrieta.

Final R H E
Chicago Cubs (59-74) 2 5 2
Cincinnati Reds (65-69) 7 11 0
W: Axelrod (1-0) L: Arrieta (7-5)
FanGraphs Win Probability | Box Score | Game Photos | Game Thread

reds cubs thurs

Biggest Play of the Game

According to Fangraphs WPA statistic (winning percentage added), the most important play of the game was Billy Hamilton’s RBI double in the 2nd inning, giving the Reds a 2-0 lead. The double by Hamilton increased the Reds chances of winning by 10.2% (from 65.5% to 75.7%).

Other important plays (+/- indicates how much each play increased or decreased the Reds chances of winning):

  • +9.8% – 2nd inning: Cozart’s RBI single with 1 out. Reds lead 1-0.
  • +7.3% – 2nd inning: Frazier’s RBI single with 2 outs. Reds lead 3-0.
  • +5.1% – 4th inning: Frazier’s RBI single with 2 outs. Reds lead 4-0. Runners on 1st & 3rd.
  • -6.7% – 2nd inning: Soler’s leadoff double off Axelrod.

Player of the Game

Dylan Axelrod: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 8 K, 1.73 FIP, 0.19 WPA

I know that throwing 100 pitches and only lasting five innings is nothing to write a book about, but how about Dylan Axelrod? He has given the Reds two very solid starts. I am sure Axelrod will not be able to keep a 1.64 ERA going on very long in the big leagues, but the guy did post a 2.98 ERA and 0.90 WHIP in six starts with the AAA-Louisville Bats. The Reds certainly have to be thrilled with what Axelrod have given them through two starts.

Positives

The Reds offense scored six earned runs off Jake Arrieta, and got him out of the game after just 4.0 innings. For those who might not know just how good Arrieta has been, he entered today with a 2.53 ERA (8th in the MLB of any pitcher with 120+ IP), 2.41 FIP (3rd in the MLB), and 1.01 WHIP (4th in the MLB). The Reds raised Arrieta’s ERA by 35 points today.

The Reds baserunning was crazy good today. The stole six (!) bases off the Cubs (all off Arrieta).

Billy Hamilton had a great day. Billy the kid went 2 for 2 with 2 RBI, but most importantly he walked twice today. That is the first time this season Hamilton walked twice in game (second time of his career, he did it 9/18/13 vs Houston in a game where he had 6 PA). That is something Billy needs to do much more of in the leadoff spot.

Zack Cozart (most Reds fans punching bag this season), went 3 for 4 today. Cozart now has a modest 4-game hitting streak, and is 8 for 15 in those four games. Who knows, maybe Cozart can have another strong finish to a season. Over the last 40 days of the 2013 regular season, Cozart lead the Reds with 41 hits, positing a slash line of.311/.338/.447 with 3 HR and 21 RBI.

Todd Frazier was 2 for 4 with 2 RBI’s. Frazier is now hitting .280/.342/.456 on the year. What a great year for Todd.

Devin Mesoraco also reached base three times today (2 walks).

Pedro Villarreal pitched two perfect innings for the Reds in relief today, striking out two batters.

Logan Ondrusek also pitched a perfect inning in relief, striking out one.

Negatives

Why is Skip Schumaker continuously put in the Reds starting lineup? Schumaker now has a .599 OPS on the season, and entered today worth a full loss using Fangraph’s WAR. There is no logical explanation for playing him in LF over Heisey or Ludwick. None.

Jay Bruce’s nightmare 2014 season continued. Bruce was 0 for 5 with 5 strikeouts today. Bruce is hitting .218/.294/.373. I still absolutely believe in Jay Bruce going forward, but let’s hope that I’m right about this year being an injury filled fluke. Here is the list of Reds players with 5+ strikeouts in a game since 1914 (the last year data is available). Hey, at least there are a lot of really good players on that list, right?

K's

Jumbo Diaz picked a good day to have an off day. Diaz allowed 3 hits and 2 ER in the 9th inning.

Not so random thoughts…………..

I know that it isn’t good for any Reds fans health or sanity to keep any sort of hope alive, but if the Giants lose (they just started their game today with the Rockies), the Reds will only be 5.5 games out of a wild card spot. I wanna believe. I guess crazier things have happened, right?

73 thoughts on “Hey, hey…..the Reds won a series!

  1. Another win streak. It’s vital that the Reds sweep the upcoming series in The Burgh, and Bruce’s bat is needed in the last month of the season.

  2. Bruce needs to sit for a series and clear his head. It’s mental at this point.

      • There was another interesting thought about Bruce. When Joe Morgan spent a few innings in the tv booth (during or just after the Reds HOF weekend), he had a lot of interesting things to say. He pointed out (as they showed video) that Bruce was not flying open with his shoulder and upper body, as you’d expect in a slump, but was turning with his “butt” (as Joe put it) before turning with his upper body and so was out of synch and robbing himself of power.

        He also said he first noticed this when it was pointed out by Paul O’Neill during a Yankees-Reds telecast. I wish that guys like O’Neill and Morgan were interested in coaching.

        • I made note of what Morgan said on that game thread. We aren’t privy to what goes on between coaches and players, but I wish a reporter would at least ask Bruce, “Are you healthy”? “What are you working on as a hitter?” “Are you aware of the tips offered by Joe Morgan and Paul ONeil?” “Do you use video of when you are going good compared to video when you aren’t?”

          PLEASE someone ask him a question! Or we end up forming our on conclusions like…:”Well he’s using the same approach all year…Is anyone coaching him up”?

      • Bruce has always had a pretty upright stance though. It’s more like his upper and lower body aren’t in sync and his hips are way ahead of his hands. Either that or he is just getting fooled on every breaking pitch and getting way out in front and having to try to slow his swing down. Whatever it is, his timing is way, way off. Also looks to me like he is holding his hands a lot lower at the start of the swing than he used to. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, Meso keeps his hands much lower, it just looks different than what he used to do.

    • I think it has to be in his head by this point. It is horrible when you feel lost at the plate. I don’t know about a series off but at least a couple games off may help him get things sorted out. This has been a lost season for Bruce and as a Jay Bruce fan and a Reds fan, it’s tough to see.

      • It’s certainly mental but mental and mechanical problems interact, I think it’s both.
        An injury can lead to mechanical problems which can lead to failure and mental problems. I too am a Jay Bruce fan and watching him struggle has been a big part of this season’s misery.

        When Billy Hamilton was interviewed on mlbnetwork in June, he was asked who helped him when he was slumping in April. I expected a reply along the lines of: “A bunch of the guys were great.” Instead without hesitation he enthusiastically said that Jay Bruce was THE guy who supported him and kept him believing in himself. He talked about it for a while, it obviously meant a lot to him.

        Now if Bruce could only talk to himself.

  3. PLAYOFFS? You wanna talk about PLAYOFFS?

    But seriously, the Reds’ biggest obstacle right now in getting a wild card spot is twofold:

    1. I don’t believe a team hovering around .500 is going to get a wild card spot. The Reds are 4 games under .500. Why can’t a .500 team get in? Well, because…

    2. There are too many other teams ahead of the Reds. The Reds would need 3 of the following 4 teams to implode: St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Atlanta or San Francisco. And this is assuming Miami, who is also ahead of our Reds, doesn’t go on a late season tear.

    Yes, stranger things have happened than a team overcoming a 5.5 game deficit in the final month of the season and leapfrogging 4 teams ahead of them in the standings, but based on the math, the # of teams involved, and the way the Reds have played since the All Star Break, I would say the chances aren’t looking very promising.

    And getting optimistic after winning a series against the CUBS, well…. That’s sort of like beating your friend at Madden than suddenly thinking you’re good enough to play in the NFL.

    • Agree, but in my mind having virtually no shot at the playoffs is a little better than having actually no shot at the playoffs. We’ll be facing the latter soon enough so might as well enjoy the former for a bit.

  4. Is anyone else just praying that they can end the season with a winning record? For some reason that is acceptable to me at this point. Its not a feeling of disappointment about the season though. More along the lines of lets just get it over with and get healthy for next year all the while hoping we make one good move in the offseason.

    • Yes at this point I’m rooting for a winning season, which won’t be easy.

      • I just want them to go out and play each game as if they were still solidly in contention, at least until they are mathematically eliminated. Let the chips fall where they may, If they would happen to get on a roll like late in June and win 20 or more of the remaining games and still come up short, so be it And looking at the Reds intradivisional record to date and the number of division games still to be played, I don’t think it is that crazy to think they might win close to 20 of the remaining games if they play hard all the way.

        The real damage in this latest 7 gave losing streak was as stated above that two or three teams got ahead of them in the WC pecking order. This hurt more than the games further they fell back. The situation is further complicated by the fact that two of the teams they need to climb over are in their own division and most of the remaining games games are intradivisional which means their are going to be nights when it is guaranteed somebody above them will win.

  5. The scouts couldn’t be more wrong about SuperTodd’s ‘unorthodox’ approach. The only time he takes these really awkward swings is when he’s deliberately trying to punch the ball over the infield because he’s in a pitcher’s count. The rest of the time his swing is great, as proven by the power numbers. To me, that’s a sign of a good hitter not a bad one. The closest thing I can compare it to is when you play wiffle ball with your buddies and you get fooled on a nasty pitch and you have to fling the bat at the ball to create contact. That’s a GOOD thing!

    • Absolutely. And I’ve heard scouts and analysts who love Super Todd’s approach.
      A related point was made by a guy on mlbnetwork. He talked about how when Todd gets fooled by a off-speed pitch, he is able to keep his hands back after his body has committed, and that he generates more bat speed in that situation than any other hitter in baseball.

      He hits HRs sometimes even when he’s fooled, not surprising when you consider that he hit a HR with the bat flying out of both hands.

  6. Let’s go Reds! Do I believe in miracles? Yes, I saw the real Janish get a hit on Tuesday night. It might have been AAA, but it was hit bat hitting the ball during the game. Can’t give up until the math says you’re out. It doesn’t mean you can play a call up that’s been tearing it up, and they should give those young guys if they are in a groove the chance to play. Just ask Wally Pipp.

      • Problem is that playing “call ups” is that in a lot of cases they are facing the same kind of call-ups. Negron has shown an ability to play because he has faced ML caliber pitching. I think he has made this club for next year. Winker and Yorman are the only offensive players that have a chance of getting playing time and Winker is injured. I would not expect to see a big influx of offensive talent.

        I also believe that it is time to look at next year. Axelrod looks that he could be a capable #5 starter. That means that one of the starting pitchers could be traded. Starting pitching and Bruce are I think in play. The Reds have to find a LF with pop, find out if the pitchers who were effective in the past (Hoover, Cingrani, LeCure) are having bad years or if they need to go somewhere. Find out if Bruce is having a bad year or that pitchers are better at exploiting the big holes in his swing.I hope this is not the case but he appears to be headed to becoming Adam Dunn Lite.

        • I don’t think you’d want to trade Bruce right after his worst year, and he’s multi-dimensional, unlike Dunn, so I disagree with the comparison. Trade Bruce–who is likely to rebound next year–for a left fielder, and now we need a right fielder.

        • I agree with everything Greenmtred says about it. Trading Bruce after his worst year would be selling low and his history and age suggest he isn’t in a full decline. He’s having a crapy year and there is a good chance it’s an outlier and not going to be his norm going forward.

  7. A fun game to watch. Hitting well and taking advantage of a pitcher/catcher combination that they could run on. They showed no mercy, which is great.

    More than that, it made me more aware of an adjustment that Hamilton and the team as a whole has made over the last several weeks. There was a point several weeks ago that the TOOTLBANs had gotten ridiculous, contributing to one loss after another. Since then they’ve slowed way down. And Hamilton has also made a nice adjustment to his base stealing, not trying to run as often but raising his rate of success.

    There was an article on the Reds mlb.com site just after Hamilton’s adjustment where Price talked about how Hamilton had become overeager to steal and other teams were taking advantage of it, he had to learn that at the major league level teams would have ways of dealing with his speed, he had to run smarter, etc.

    • That’s good to hear. I’ve also noticed that the pickoffs have slowed down immensely. His plate appearances have looked better lately, as he has been able to foul off more 2 strike pitches…even if the AB didn’t result in a hit or walk. The kid continues to grow and improve in all facets of the game.

  8. I believe Jumbo pitched exactly like he was suppose to pitch with a 7 run lead. He threw strikes and made the other team beat him. The 1st 2 pitches he threw to Castro, a fastbell and a slider were good itches that barely missed the plate, but after that he threw strikes. Castro and Valbuena put good swings on the strikes. The pitch Soler hit was actually well out of the strike zone, high and tight, and nearly sawed the bat off in Soler’s hands, but he muscled it over the infield. The 1st 4 hitters Jumbo faced were the meat of the Stupid Cubbies lineup and all solid hitters.

    His line for the game didn’t look good, but he did his job exactly as a pitcher is suppose to pitch with a big lead late in the game.

    • Completely agree. He was all around the zone. He got into situations he had to throw strikes and the book is out that it will be a fastball if that is the case. He is an adrenaline guy and this was the furthest thing from it.

  9. Does anyone think Negron shouldn’t be guaranteed a spot on the 2015 25-man roster right now? He may be hitting over his capability, but Negron is a solid baseball player. Today he played 3B like a SS. He reminded me of…well…Todd Frazier with better range. He probably doesn’t play SS as good as Cozart or 2B as good as Phillips, but he’s probably not far behind. His baserunning is aggressive AND intelligent. His enthusiasm and energy is contagious. Did anyone else notice Heisey’s homerun ‘trot’ last night?

    • Not sure about guaranteed but I love what Negron is showing the Reds right now. Great position flexibility (infield and outfield), solid defense, good speed, hustle and he’s hit. I realize he’s a bit over his skis in comparison to his minor league hitting line, but the rest of his game makes a strong case for making the roster next year.

    • Just saying, because I never would stir the pot 🙂 ………

      Negron has had 95 MLB PA’s this season and has an OPS of .796 and OPS+ of 122 as of right now. Cozart was handed the SS job after posting like figures of .811/ 116 over 38 MLB PA’s in 2011.

      If Negron finishes the season without seriously fading offensively, wouldn’t it make a fair amount of sense to get him some real looks at SS?

      • He’d have to be really substantial upgrade offensively to justify sitting the best defensive shortstop in the game. And besides, Negron’s versatility makes him really valuable as frequently-playing supersub. A sixth man, to use a mixed sports metaphor.

    • I’d like his chances even more if Skip wasn’t signed for another year (stupid 2 year utility contracts) He would be a great money saving bench utility guy.

  10. That was a fun game to watch, both from the perspective of the good things the Reds did, but also seeing the Stupid Cubs cubbing. Seeing the Reds pound Arrieta and making him look foolish on the basepaths was particularly enjoyable. Hamilton walks…twice. The Stupid Cubbies pitch around Mesoraco so he walks twice and still manages to collect a hit. The Reds collect 4 true doubles out of 11 hits and turn 6 singles/walks into 6 additional doubles. Bryan lets Villarreall hit so he can log 2 innings.

    That game certainly didn’t make up for all of the problems and issues related to the 2014 season, but it sure felt good.

  11. Would you please give me one reason why Skip Schumaker should start in LF over Chris Heisey (or even Ryan Ludwick)? I do think the Reds should have a better option for LF than any of the three, but you can not honestly tell me that Skip Schumaker is a better option in LF than the other two.

      • So what are you saying: all of them should be playing right now? Can’t do that, there’s only room for three OF knuckleheads: Bruce + two others.

        • [The above is a reply to Thegaffer @8:47. Not sure how it ended up down here.]

    • Skip went 2 for 4 yesterday and drove in 2 runs; why not give him another start? Heisey’s;lousy as a starter and Ludwick isn’t hitting lately. None of the three are good enough to play every day so Bryan is trying to get the most he can out of three flawed players. It’s called “managing”.

      • Yes, when none of the 3 designated options for LF are good enough to play every day, then a discussion regarding which of the 3 designated options should or should not play does become pointless. Even a straight platoon type arrangement doesn’t work. Ludwick has managed a .805 OPS against LHP, but against RHP, none of the 3 designated LF options can produce even average results.

        • I know he was playing 3B yesterday, but I’m going to keep banging the drum that Negron should be in LF as much as possible for the remainder of the season. It allows the Reds to evaluate him for the role in the future AND it gives them a better shot to win than any of the other three at this point.

          • I am on that bandwagon. As soon as Sept. 1st, the Reds LF situation should be a platoon of Negron and Yorman Rodriguez. We’ve had 5 months of the Ludwick/Heisey/Schumaker less than mediocrity display.

        • If all three are poor hitters (which they are outside of Ludwick vs LHP) than why don’t you go with the one who is hands down a better defender and baserunner than the other two? There is absolutely no excuse to continuously play Skip Schumaker in LF, despite what the two guys do or don’t do. Schumaker is a bad hitter, bad base runner, and an exceptionally bad fielder. By the way, check out the three players OPS vs RHP:

          2014 / Since 2010

          Heisey: .647/.742
          Ludwick: .654/.727
          Schumaker: .614/.684

          • You keep including in Heisey’s numbers when he isn’t a starter. The fact is he performs much worse as a starter and your question was why Price would start Skip SOMETIMES over Heisey. You have your answer. And Price doesn’t “continuously play Skip Schumaker in LF” that’s an exaggeration. In fact, Ludwick has started 81 games in LF, Heisey 27 and Skip 22.

            I don’t know what evidence there is that Skip is an “exceptionally bad fielder” in Lf unless you are going to throw in one year UZR figures based on an exceptionally small sample size. No respectable sabermetrician would do that. Skip seems OK in LF to me; he’s not as good as Heisey, a bit better than Ludwick. You may trot out the UZR numbers if you choose but they you’ll have to explain to me why Ryan Ludwick is a better OF than Jay Bruce.

      • Where’s Ludwick’s numbers as a starter? All you said was that ‘Ludwick isn’t hitting lately’. Fact is, he’s hit better that either Heisey or Skip, and has been all season.

          • You seem to have missed that Schumaker has started 42 total games in the OF. He also has starts in CF and RF. He also didn’t play his first game until May 3rd either.

          • I think the real issue here is not Schumaker’s performance, but the fact that management continued to run Schumaker out there in the outfield when there were other options. Schumaker was signed as a reserve to provide bench support – pinch hitting and the occasional start at 2nd and as an emergency fill-in in the outfield. In this role, he is probably OK. As a semi-regular in the outfield, at this point in his career? No. So the criticism should not be aimed at Schumaker, but at management.

    • You are under arrest. You have the right to remain silent. If you choose to give up that right, anything you say can, and will, be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney, and to have them present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you at no cost to you. Do you understand those rights as read to you?
      The charge: beating that “Heisey should start in LF” dead horse over and over again.
      Put Negron in LF and lets be done with it.

  12. Schu is just not that good of a player, I think it is obvious that it is not heisey support or even Ludwick support, it is just plain clear to most people Schu is worse at most things and adds nothing to the line-up- he has no place in a MLB OF

  13. How often do players get their eyesight checked? I’m wondering about Bruce. I know he’s been injured and slumping, but he’s so far off his career numbers that it seems like it would be worth checking…

      • Time to double check his prescription perhaps? Maybe it’s fine but if it’s not, hitting is really tough and any physical disadvantage manifests quickly in (reduced) performance.

      • It’s a good thing the reds didn’t trade for that unfocused knucklehead that Cleveland had named Brandon Phillips. And man, what were they thinking picking up that trouble maker Josh Hamilton. Good thing they traded him as quick as they could.

        The reds can’t afford to sign expensive free agents to fill their holes. They have to look for value. If Castro was made available, especially for one of our pitchers, yeah, I think he could be a steal with his talent, age, and contract. It’s really a moot point because the Cubs probably wouldn’t want to trade him in division and the reds probably wouldn’t want to give up a good pitcher to a division rival.

        • Exactly what value does Castro have if he gives away on defense everything he gives you on offense?……….if he routinely turns sure doubles into singles? I live in the Chicago area and watch him all the time. He’s in his 5th major league season—-what you’re seeing is a feature, not a bug.

      • Almost forgot another unfocused, knucklehead, middle infielder named Joe Morgan that the Astros were wanting to rid themselves of. Good thing the reds didn’t get that guy.

  14. There has been a lot of talk about all of the hitters the Cubs are stocking up on. Apparently teaching them to field is not a concern. They might be good hitting Cubs, but they are still Cubs.

  15. I think you got a glimpse of the way Price wants to play. Be aggressive and put pressure on the other team. I understand it’s the Cubs, but the base running had the Cubs flustered. Plus, how many runs did the boys score after a steal? When you hit, everyone looks smart. Relish the brief pockets of good.

  16. Geez, with the reply feature not working, it’s really hard to focus specific responses to specific comments.

  17. As to Skip’s fielding in LF, the Inside Edge Fielding numbers available on Fangraphs say that Skip has made every single play rated “Routine” (30 plays) and “Likely” (3). He missed 1 of 2 rated “Unlikely”, 2 that were rated “Remote” and 13 which were rated “Impossible”. There’s seems to be some serious disconnect between the UZR numbers and the Inside Edge ones; I fail to see much evidence that Skip is an “exceptionally bad fielder” in LF in the IE numbers.

  18. My above comment was a reply to the Sultan… He was saying that Ludwick had been better than Heisey or Schumaker. My reply was that he had also been better than Bruce, as much as I hate to admit that.

  19. The thing that really amazes me about Schumaker is how often he fails to do “the little things.” Twice yesterday he failed to move a runner to 3rd; this is a recurring theme. This was supposed to be his calling card: his grittiness and “stuff that doesn’t show up in a box score” and moving runners over and battling through at bats, etc.

    Maybe he’s great in the clubhouse, but he sure hasn’t shown any of this on the field.

    • Ironic. Early in the game yesterday, Marty BLASTED the rest of the team for not getting runners over and said why couldn’t everyone else be like Skip. Marty said Skip can get the runners over with great ease. Hmm. Won’t hold my breath for his commentary catching up with reality.

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