Titanic Struggle Recap

Titanic Struggle Recap: The 2016 Reds you were expecting to see finally make an appearance

Final R H E
Pittsburgh Pirates (4-0) 6 8 2
Cincinnati Reds (3-1) 5 6 3
W: Vogelsong (1-0) L: Hoover (0-1) S: Melancon (2)
FanGraphs Win Probability | Box Score

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The Good
–Brandon Phillips returned to the lineup, and he responded by hitting a home run and going 2-2 with a walk, two runs scored, and two RBI. He made a dumb decision to try to score and got nailed at the plate in the fifth, but two innings later, he attempted to steal third with Jay Bruce at the plate. When the ball got away from the catcher, he scored to give the Reds a 5-2 lead. Plus, he made another flashy diving stop. Good night for BP overall.

–Billy Hamilton got his first hit of the season, from the left side of the plate no less. And it drove in a run. Then Billy did what Billy does: he stole second base.

–I’ll wait to see what the metrics show, but the eye test on Zack Cozart’s knee is encouraging. He ranged into the hole in the fifth to keep a ball on the infield that could have allowed two runs to score otherwise. Then, a couple of outs later, he made another heads-up defensive play to end the inning after Eugenio Suarez booted a ball.

–Caleb Cotham pitched a scoreless inning, the sixth. He walked a batter, but made a nice play on a comebacker to start an inning-ending double play. Blake Wood pitched a perfect ninth inning.

The Bad
–The Reds led 5-2 as the Pirates batted in the top of the eighth. Ross Ohlendorf and his 1920s-era windup quickly retired two hitters before things fell apart. HBP, BB, infield single…and all of a sudden, bases were loaded. Bryan Price then chose to go with JJ Hoover for a four-out save.

Now, I’m not criticizing Price for this decision. We begged him for two years to use Aroldis Chapman in just this manner, and he (pretty much) steadfastly refused, so it was irritating to see him do it with Hoover in the first week of the season. But Hoover is probably his best reliever, so it wasn’t a bad decision.

Using Ohlendorf may have been a bad decision, as Steve noted. Not leaving Cingrani in the game after he only pitched to two batters in the previous inning — Price could rightfully be questioned about that choice. But after Ohlendorf screwed things up, it was a high-leverage moment, and you want your “best” reliever in there.

So Hoover proceeds to surrender a grand slam. Pirates lead 6-5. (And then Hoover didn’t even pitch the ninth; Price brought in Blake Wood. Wood retired Pittsburgh in order.)

–The Reds led 3-1 after 4, but had missed opportunities in both the third and fourth innings. In the third, the Reds loaded the bases with no outs. After a sac fly by BP, Devin Mesoraco grounded into a double play to end the inning.

In the fourth, again the Reds had bases loaded, this time with one out. Cozart grounded into a double play this time around.

Then, in the top of the fifth, Simon promptly melted down — thanks largely to two errors by Suarez — loading the bases with no outs…but escaped with just one run allowed — thanks largely to stellar defense by Cozart, as mentioned above.

–So yeah, Suarez’s defense was bad tonight. Let’s not condemn the guy just yet. The field was wet and conditions were poor. Suarez had never started a big league game at third base before this season…and the last time he started a game at the position was six years ago.

Yes, he was brutal tonight. Keep your fingers crossed that this was just an anomaly.

Not-So-Random Thoughts
–Well, that was a fun game for most of the evening.

–Everyone knew the bullpen was going to be a problem this season. Don’t act surprised.

–Alfredo Simon was so-so, going five innings while allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits and two walks. He struck out seven and threw 92 pitches. That’s pretty much going to be a standard Simon start, methinks.

According to Joel Luckhaupt, Hoover tied Frank Smith tonight for the most grand slams allowed in Reds history with 5. For what it’s worth, that was Hoover’s first save opportunity since taking over the closer role from Chapman.

–A Pirates fan complained about the “Woooo” at the ballpark tonight, so I did a little research. First appearance of the Woooo at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park was 9/4/12. First appearance at Cincinnati: 9/10/12. So Pirates fans invented it, it seems…

…but wait! Looks like Pittsburgh Penguins fans started doing it back in 2010!

Yes, I wasted a portion of my evening researching this. You’re welcome.

44 thoughts on “Titanic Struggle Recap: The 2016 Reds you were expecting to see finally make an appearance

  1. Hoover with the bases loaded has never been a good idea. I’m surprised his career grand slams allowed number is only 5, thought it was more.

  2. It probably wouldn’t have made much of a difference, but I can’t understand why Price didn’t pinch hit Schebler for Holt late in the game. As Patrick said in the Game Thread: “Schebler, who destroys righties sits the bench while Holt, who destroys lefties, bats against a righty. PriceLogix.”

    I do wonder how many games Price’s poor managing has cost the team. I said last year, that while I had no delusions of that team being playoff caliber or even good, they really weren’t as bad as what they showed.

    Is there a stat that measures how many direct outcomes a manager can influence during a game that weighs the best statistical decision vs. what the manager actually did? Of course, sometimes even making the statistically correct decision can still backfire, but at least we can say the manager made the right choice and the player just didn’t perform as expected.

    It would be ridiculously difficult to measure something like that objectively unless you could concretely define situations where managers are presented with a tangible decision, because effectively every pitch of the game could be a manager’s decision since they always have the option of subbing players, even in the middle of an at-bat. It would have to be something like the Error stat, where someone watches the game and decides which situations a manager could reasonably be expected to act, but even then it would be subject to wildly fluctuating judgment calls.

    But I would be interested in seeing something like this because, at least by the ol’ “eye test”, Price seems to make a lot of decisions that negatively affect the outcome of the game and/or don’t give his team the best chance to win (lineup construction, matchups, the “closer rules”, etc). Granted, a lot of managers are guilty of the same thing Price is, I’d just be curious to see which managers are most prone to statistically unsound decisions. This removes the argument that “a manager is only as good as his players” and shows us exactly what we’re paying our managers for.

      • Maybe we here at RLN could collaborate to come up with a formula to measure these stats in a manager and test it throughout this season to see if it rings true.

  3. I’d like to see Lorenzen in the bullpen when he returns. Also it’s good to see Cingrani pitching well so far, showing some breaking pitches. Hope he’s finally healthy.

  4. Never trusted Hoover, very ineffective, just a set-up reliever for low leverage situations. I hope they’ll explore other options for closer duties.

  5. The slam looked like an off speed pitch up in the heart of the zone instead of down and away where the catcher was set up.

  6. Even in a season about finding the future, it was downright infuriating to see a game that was won given back away in the manner it was.

    Whether or not Hoover is currently the best reliever on the team, the old saying comes to mind that a definition of insanity is to continue to do the same thing and expect a different result. How many times have in the past have we seem Hoover perform the same sad act in a high leverage situation??? If the season is about finding the future hopefully it won’t take them long to start trying to find a real closer.

      • We are again sounding like a bunch of manic-depressives. The Reds weren’t really outplayed last night, and that with half of their pitchers on the DL and Votto off to a slow start. I’m not even considering jumping off a bridge yet. I am concerned about Suarez, though, because it looks to me as though he has the same bad hands at third that he had at short, along with a possibly errant arm. Of course he needs time to learn the position, but he presumably had had time to learn short, and I’m not happy with trying to hide a bad glove at third. He can hit, and he needs to play, but where? Left? What happens when Winker come up?

    • i was whining in the other thread about this: why name a ‘closer’ if you don’t really have one? It’s bad enough to waste an arm like Chapman, but if you truly have a one or two-pitch guy who can’t crack the rotation, then maybe HE is your closer. But to single one guy out who has to be ‘the closer’ amid this bunch doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

  7. Can someone say excuses? There may be things that can excuse Suarez and/or Hoover’s performances tonight, but I hope this doesn’t become a habit with some Reds fans simply because they were the ones calling for change and then they got it and now this is what we’re stuck with. Everyone pretty much knows/expects this team to do badly this year. So at some point the excuses have to stop. At some point we’re gonna have to call a spade a spade. When that point comes the excuse will become that this was what was expected because they’re so young and inexperienced. And then the critics are gonna be expected to stifle their criticisms based solely on the fact that this team is mostly young & inexperienced and still learning. So the word we’re gonna hear a lot this season (and probably the next 1 or 2 yrs) is patience. Patience to endure bad baseball from our beloved Reds all because upper mgmt didn’t give the previous version of the Reds one more chance before deciding to dump most of our fan favorites for largely unproven kids. I’ve been a Reds fan for 27 yrs now so I’ve seen my fair share of rebuilds. Patience is something I’ve never had a problem with until this most recent rebuild attempt. You’d think I’d be used to this because it is a cold hard fact that occasionally our Reds are going to have to rebuild and that means losing baseball, bad baseball. But I don’t know what it is about THIS rebuild that bugs me so much. Something about how upper mgmt handled this seems wrong. It almost feels like they tried to keep their plans under wraps for 2 years (I believe Jocketty had this rebuild planned as far back as 2013 or whenever they fired Baker). Then they made it seem as if it was only going to be just a few players that would be traded because we couldn’t afford them anymore. Then, out of nowhere (seemingly) they dumped on us fans that EVERYBODY on the team was up for grabs. I guess it just feels like we were misled. But I guess I’m in the minority so I’ll try to shut my mouth (something I’ve not had much luck with BECAUSE I love the Reds so much). And I think I’m entitled to disagree with the decisions upper mgmt makes as well as the mgmt on the field. This is just me being honest and pouring my heart out. I hope it’s ok with y’all.

    • It’s not impossible that the decision about how to rebuild evolved, and that it became as sweeping as it did when it became clear that the team as it was couldn’t realistically contend and hanging on to players who would soon become expensive free-agents for the sake of a doomed try at a playoff run made no sense. It’s too early for me to decide that these Reds won’t be worth watching–they’re 3 and 1 and were one bad pitch away from winning their fourth–but I can certainly understand where you are coming from.

  8. I have to agree with the irritated Pirates Fan about the Wooo. As someone who lives out of state and therefore catches most games on the radio, the wooo is so very annoying to the broadcast.

    If you go to the ballpark please cheer yourself hoarse for our beloved Redlegs, but do so without the wooo. Your fellow fans thank you for your restraint.

    • I thought it was a solid call by Hatcher to send him too. It was 2 outs in the inning. It took a perfect throw to get him.

  9. Hoover was only 1 of 7 in save chances last year when Chapman was unavailable. He’s getting the first shot at filing the closer’s role. Just not sure if Hoover can be a good closer? I see blown saves this year. I hope this Ross Ohlendorf is not another version of
    Kevin Gregg or Logan Ondrusek. He will have to earn my respect. With the Reds basically doing a reboot with their starting pitching the last couple years, and thinking in a year or two, these new young pitchers will be good, better also think about their bullpen and rebooting that as well, or it will turn into problems for them.

    At least there is no high expectations for the Reds this year, or even next, or probably year after next. The Cubs, Pirates, and the Cardinals have risen above them, so I am hoping and praying for about 70 wins.

    • My expectations are minimal over the course of the season, but I still want to win ‘winnable’ games like Friday’s. But by the same token, I guess the Philiies could say the same thing about the first two games of the season. Rebuild happens.

  10. Darn… that sucked really thought we were going to be 4 – 0.. Oh well lets hope for at least 1 win this weekend. Series win would be nice but I have a hard time getting to excited about that at this time.

  11. The Pirates left side of the infield was kicking the ball around too. Of course Hoover couldn’t pitch the ninth… It wasn’t a save situation. Duh.

  12. I was concerned about Hoover showing up last night.He’s blown way too many opportunities and In his last outing against the not so” fightin Phils”, he was saved by two fantastic catches-Holt-Hamilton- the Reds had it in the bag and played with spirit
    last night-too bad—i know its early-but maybe go to Plan B

  13. New nickname: “Hoover the Groover.”

    Tired of his act. I know it’s early. Doesn’t matter. Trade him or DFA him.

  14. I know I will be villified , if not crucified for saying, we had 2 very good opportunities to bunt and score easy runs in the 3rd and 4th. But we chose double plays.

    • That’s assuming the bunts would have been successful and that runs would easily result. Wrong assumption, that.

  15. Price seems to have Cingrani on a tight leash–after the walk Cingrani blew away
    the righty–i thought he should have at least started the ninth—
    as far as the ” Hoover”—they’ll be alot more pain to his game

  16. Good job Hoover. Thanks for reminding us all that 2016 is the year we go for draft picks not for wins. “We now resume our regularly scheduled losing ways.”

  17. Now that’s the Reds I know! Ohlendorf did get the first two outs but they were loud outs. However, why he decided to quick pitch made zero sense. His windup, to a certain degree, was working. I applaud Price for going to his so-called reliever in the 8th but with the bases juiced, Hoover should never be the option. I mumbled to myself: here comes a GS. Smack. Good night.

    • That windup, by the way, was pretty common in the 50’s and 60’s. I used it myself. I’m sure that it was common in the 20’s, to

  18. I expected Hoover to lose us a lot of close games this year by walking a batter and then giving up a homerun. He skipped the first step last night.

  19. Three things:
    1 – Hoover is the very definition of a closer who should be coming in clean (nobody on base). He’s likely to make enough of his own trouble.

    2 – The first pitch to Marte should have been a strike. It caught a lot of the plate and was pretty much belt high. I was a bit stunned and I think Hoover was too.

    3 – The breaking ball was a hanger but with the way Marte swung at it, he either was guessing and guessed right, Hoover telegraphed it, or the Pirates have discovered a pattern where Hoover likes to throw his breaking ball for a strike in 1-0 counts.

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