Titanic Struggle Recap

From No-Hitter to No Decision

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Box Score | FanGraphs Winning Percentage

Tonight was the 2016 home opener for the NL Central favorite Chicago Cubs.  Brandon Finnegan did his best to send all those fans home in a bad mood, but the Reds bullpen (with an assist by manager Bryan Price) decided to be friendly to the Chicago faithful.  Addison Russell’s home run in the 8th put the Cubs up 5-3 and they never looked back.

The Good

Finnegan pitched 6 2/3 no-hit innings.   His no-hit bid was broken up by David Ross with 2 outs in the bottom of the 7th inning on Finnegan’s 107th pitch of the game.  He finished the night giving up 2 ER (more on that later) on 1 hit, walking and striking out 5.  He was given a no decision.

Billy Hamilton hit his first home run of 2016.  That’s pretty neat.  It would be nice to see how Billy could do if he stopped wasting most of his time practicing from the unnatural left side of the plate.

Adam Duvall doubled (his 3rd in 2 days) and made a fantastic diving catch in the 1st inning.  If early returns are any indication of future returns, the Duvall/Schebler platoon in left should be just fine this year and perhaps next.

The Bad

Zack Cozart appeared to have some discomfort after his single leading off the game.  He stayed in the game until the bottom of the 4th when he was lifted for Ivan DeJesus.  Later in the game we found out it wasn’t his surgically-repaired knee causing the discomfort, but tightness in his right quad above his surgically-repaired right knee.  Hopefully Zack will be OK with a little rest.

With the bases loaded, Chicago native Tony Cingrani was called upon to retire Jason Heyward and preserve the Reds 3-0 lead.  After getting ahead of Heyward 0-2, Cingrani left a fastball in the middle of the plate and Heyward drove in two runs. Sometimes pitchers miss their spots, but missing in the middle of the plate in an 0-2 count is pretty poor.  In the following inning, Cingrani only retired one of the three batters he faced, putting the tying and go-ahead runs on base for Jumbo Diaz. What could go wrong?

Diaz gave up a home run to Addison Russell on his first pitch in the game.  Relievers are going to give up home runs sometimes, but given the timing and how the night played out, I had to put Jumbo in “The Bad” section.

Adventures in Managing

In the 7th, Brian Price called for a sacrifice bunt with Duvall on 2nd and Finnegan at the plate.  Finnegan has safely hit in both his starts this year, perhaps alluding to a decent batting ability for a pitcher.  Assuming the sacrifice was successful, the bunt would lower run expectancy for the inning from 1.10 to 0.95.   Since sacrifices aren’t always successful, that has to be weighed in.  A poor decision, in my opinion, by Price.

While Finnegan was struggling to maintain control of his no-hit bid in the bottom of the 7th inning, the bullpen was devoid of action.  Knowing that Finnegan would likely need to be pulled quickly, Price should have had a replacement warming and ready to go.  Instead, Price waited until Finnegan gave up a hit, causing Finnegan to pitch to an additional batter who he promptly walked on 4 pitches.  That runner would eventually come around to score.

Adventures in Officiating

Caleb Cotham was called in to relieve Finnegan.  He only faced one batter, Dexter Fowler, and walked him.  Here is what PITCHfx has to say about that pivotal walk:

fowler

Looks to me like Cotham should have gotten at least one of those two calls.  Instead, he got neither.

In the 9th inning, Hector Rondon struck out Scott Schebler looking to end the game.  About that…

schebler

Perhaps home plate umpire John Tumpane had some Giordano’s pizza waiting on him in the clubhouse.

Adventures with StatCast

Adam Duvall’s double (his 3rd in 2 days) left the bat at 108mph.  Last season, the Reds as a team hit 48 balls at 108mph or harder. Frazier led the way with 22, followed by Bruce (14), Boesch (5), Votto (3), and Byrd, Duvall, Phillips, and Suarez with 1 each.

Billy Hamilton’s home run left the bat at 96mph.  That is a good illustration of how trajectory is far more important than raw velocity. For reference, Brandon Finnegan’s single was hit at 99mph.

Votto’s singles were rocked at 104mph and 103mph.  His slow start might have some fans worried, but rest assured, there is nothing wrong with Joey Votto.

 

Lester Face

Perhaps the best silver lining from this tough loss is that Billy Hamilton gave us a gift that will keep on giving:

12cojl

 

 

99 thoughts on “From No-Hitter to No Decision

  1. Once the bullpen got involved in the game, did anyone else feel a sense of dread and inevitability?

    Simply not enough necessity runs.

    • Even before the bullpen got in the game, I felt they would lose it unless the Reds took a 5 run lead or more. A bad bullpen gets especially exposed on the road against a decent offense.

  2. Dick Williams (and for the next 6 months, Walt Jocketty) have some interesting times ahead of them.

    As comprised now, this team could be a bullpen away from competing for a playoff spot if not this year, then certainly next. If a couple of guys get back from the bullpen along with Stephenson and Reed being ready by the middle of the year, they may have the arms in house and available to fill the rotation and fix the pen by the All Star break.

    So what’s the window for the Reds? ASAP and try to add/ develop pieces to extend it? Or do they go on and move out some parts and look 2018 and beyond?

    • “If a couple of guys get back from the bullpen……”

      Was meant to be “If a couple of guys get back from the DL……”

      Sorry.

    • I just don’t have the faith. Enjoying the start, but just see this team being more likely to be 8+ games back before we blink, certainly by some time in June. The Reds might be pesky, buy not playoff worthy.The Cubs are excellent. Passing on the first week Kool Aid. Even if they had won tonight. Happy to be wrong.

      • I think the pitching is good enough by the start of 2017 to be in the playoff conversation all year if they keep the current cast of position guys while finding a way to start to blend in Peraza and Winker. And the next wave of pitching, led by Garrett and Travieso et al, should be at AAA in 2017 and pushing the major league staff.

        The issue as I see it is that Bruce, Phillips, and Cozart are gone after 2017 (and probably over the age curve by then anyway). Peraza hopefully replaces one of the IF pair; but there is no RF on the horizon. So, maybe they should sell who they can, including maybe even Bailey and Meso and look to start competing in 2018/19

        • I think any outfielder who can play left can play right. Just gotta get used to men being on 3rd base. 😉

        • The thing is, you can pretty much make a similar case every year and keep pushing the window back. The Reds need to set the target, and then try to hit it. If it’s 2018, then that’s where they should be looking. The only exception should be if the team is unexpectedly competitive before then, you need to do what you can to try to get that team into the playoffs.

        • RE:LW…. My feeling is that unless they hold the pitching back intentionally, it is going to force them to a decision point about how they approach 2017.

          Bear in mind that Disco figures to become arb eligible ahead of the 2018 season; and, if Super 2 survives in the new CBA, probably also at the same point Iglesias who has an opt to arb provision in his contract similar to what Chapman had. On the position side, Hamilton is going to be arb eligible then and Suarez could be close as a Super 2. These situations could also be factors.

        • LWBlogger2 nailed it: “The only exception should be if the team is unexpectedly competitive before then, you need to do what you can to try to get that team into the playoffs.”

          Face it, this team is unexpectedly competitive. Show of hands who disagree? Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away … but now it looks as though we’re a bullpen away … from being the new who-dey …

          As Robert Lamm once wrote, “s’only the beginning … s’only just the start …”

        • @Bobbyhowsamjr – I think it’s too early to say they are unexpectedly competitive. They aren’t even 10% into the season yet. I’d say we’ll know more about the 40 game mark. If they are still at or near the top of the standings, then I think management needs to see what they can do to make the team better and certainly not trade away veterans that are producing and are part of the success. That said, the biggest weakness seems to be the pen and it is likely to be better by that 40 game mark.

      • I think we are playoff worthy right now. As I’ve said before, if we had a stronger bullpen we’d be undefeated right now. I know it’s early, but we played the Pirates tough and we had that game last night won, but for poor game management, as usual, by Price, and horrible relief pitching by Caleb, Cingrani and Jumbo. You hand Stephenson the ball, rather than Caleb or Cingrani, we win that game. The suggestion that its a fait accompli we have to spit the bit this year … I’m sorry, I simply don’t buy it. And let’s not forget, we’re performing at this level, without Homer Bailey, without Lamb, without Disco, without Lorenzen, without Moscot, without Peraza, with Suarez’s shaky glove at third, with Cozart being 75-80% at best, and with Duvall running the bases like he’s on LSD. Maybe I’m missing something, but you add the talent that’s not here, solidify the D by letting Peraza play third, move Suarez to the OF and I think we’d surprise a lot of folks. I really do.

        • As Zach Buchanan noted in his article earlier today, the Reds “have given up 11 of their 23 runs in the seventh inning or later, including nine runs in the eighth inning.” If the Reds added some power arms who could actually get guys out in the 8th and 9th inning, instead of serving up taters on plate, like Jumbo and J.J., we’d end up surprising a lot of folks. Not saying we’d make the playoffs, but we wouldn’t suck.

          • They will add power arms to the bullpen as their pitchers get healthy. Bailey, DeSclafani, Lamb, Moscot, Lorenzen.

            Using up Robert Stephenson’s service time throwing in the bullpen of a team like this would be the worst use of it ever.

        • To indulge your fantasy, if Stephenson was in the bullpen, who would have started the third game of the season?

          How can you assert that Stephenson would be a good relief pitcher when he has never done it?

          You are missing something. Lots of somethings in fact. Start with: Pirates, Cubs and Cardinals. All clearly better than the Reds right now.

        • Stephenson to the bullpen might have made for a good April 1 article. (wink)

        • I dont think that Bryan Price will EVER get any team to the postseason. Unless, that team was 1927 Yankees or 1976 Reds with an overabundance of talent!

        • I agree with you Bobby. The bullpen needs to be sorted out and Cingrani needs to be able to pitch to his capability in pressure situations. Bryan Price, in my opinion, has proven he is not a good manager.

  3. Solid recap. This game was also a case study in how dangerous walks are. Can’t let a lineup like the Cubs keep moving forward. I’m content in the overall positives of Finnegan and so far having a LF that actually contributes to the team.

    • It is a short sample size and long season, but Duvall is looking like he could be the long lost LF and typical of the Reds just when Winker is on the horizon. Wonder if either of them could pass muster in RF down the line.

      • why not just eliminate P from batting at all and go with 8 man hitting lineup. If you want to hit, you have to be able to play defense. offense improves as lineup rolls over quicker to the top. admittedly, I dislike the DH but think my option appeases those who dislike pitchers hitting.

  4. Like I said last week, if the Reds are wanting to rebuild starting pitching, and hope these young arms will turn into quality starting pitching, they better make sure to ALSO build a solid bullpen with it. The Reds used to have a dependable bullpen, but in the last couple years or so, its gone really downhill. Not sure what Cingrani was thinking with being ahead of Heyward 0-2 and throwing a fast ball anyway, especially one right down the middle. Why not throw an offspeed pitch, or something to get Heyward to chase. You are ahead of him in the count! Also, Jumbo’s pitch was left up in the zone. The Reds are playing moneyball, so this is what we are going to see this year, things like tonight’s game. At least there are no real high expectations for the Reds this year, or even next year. Now the Cubs, after spending ALL that money getting players, should feel the pressure of making a deep run in the playoffs and getting to the World Series.

    • Wonder what Meso called for and where he set up? I would think a breaking pitch off the plate would be sensible at 0-2 but I don’t know if Meso called for one and was shaken off or just what went on.

    • The difference between the Reds and say the Cardinals or the Angels, who have managers with a brain, is that the pitches for those teams are called by Matheny and Scioscia. They don’t leave it up to lobotomized guys like Cingrani, Jumbo and JJ and their battery mates, who seem, for whatever stupid reason, to be in love with throwing batting practice fastballs on the inner half to fastball hitters in greenlight sitches and on counts like 0-2. Jeff’s exactly exactly right, Cingrani has no business throwing Hayward and 0-2 fastball, but if Price awoke from his coma, he’d take the decision out of Cingrani and Meso’s hands. Same with the pitch Jumbo served up on the HR. What idiot serves up a fastball to a fastball hitter jacked on adrenaline in that situation. But I have said many many times before, that is precisely why Bryan Price is an empty suit. His decision not to have anyone up in the 7th further confirms what a goof the guy is. We all wanted to see Finnegan get through the 7th, and I have no problem with the decision to let him go deeper in the pitch count because of the no-no, but for God’s sake you have to have guys up and working to start the 7th and, on balance, the guys should have been Jumbo and Cingrani, not Caleb and Cingrani. But the biggest thing I took away from Moneyball was that Billy actually played the game and was a good player. Could you imagine Price walking into the clubhouse and talking up guys about strategy as Beane was portrayed to have done in the movie? Hell no. And why? Because Price never played … never hit … never bunted … and, as a result, can pull the levers. He’s just a suit.

      • The played the game stuff is utter non-sense.

        Leyland, LaRussa, Sparkey Anderson, Tommy Lasorda, Bruce Boche, Joe Maddon, Casey Stengel, Bobby Cox, Charlie Manuel, Tom Kelly, Whitey Herzog…..a few of dozens and dozens of very good to great managers with no or a very limited playing history. How could they possibly have succeeded?

        Joe Torre was a very good player…..and had a managerial record as bad as Price’s until he inherited Jeter, Williams, Rivera (amongst others) and unlimited resources. Did he have a lobotomy in 1996 and somehow forgot he was dumb? How did his great playing career help him with the 1979 Mets?

        Wasn’t Ted Williams the greatest hitter ever? He really killed it with the Senators as a manager….how many titles did they win?

        George Weiss, Theo Epsten, Pat Gillick, Brian Cashman, John Moziliak, Jeff Luhnow…..what does the back of their baseball cards say? Nothing….absolutely nothing.

        Lastly, perhaps you could share some anecdotes from Bob Howsam’s illustrious playing career? Did he motivate Johnny Bench with his great stories of selling mutual funds in the 1960’s?

        • Thanks Chuck. I was ready to bang my head against a wall until I read your response, which was much better, and less vulgar, than what I might have written.

    • i think there has to be something to the fact that when Price was just the pitching coach, the bullpen was better. Now he is manager and they are not as good. i think he was a much better pitching coach then manager.

  5. Before we exhale a collective sigh of relief that Cozart’s issue is “just” a quad and not his knee, let’s recall that quad issues coming off of a much less serious knee surgery robbed Joey Votto of his power in 2013 and ultimately cost him the 2014 season…..

    • As soon as they said quad tightness, that was my exact thought.

      Of course, Votto took MUCH longer than normal to recover from a quad strain. Let’s hope Cozart proves to be as quick a healer with the quad as he was with the knee.

      • I thought the same thing last night as well. Biggest difference between the 2 situations is that team in 2014 needed Joey Votto to play. This team doesn’t necessarily need Cozart to play until he is healthy. He can sit and let Peraza play.

  6. Looking at the pitch plot, Cotham strikes out Shebler and the Reds are out of the inning still ahead 3 – 0. So poor officiating contributed to the loss more than a manager’s decision. A shout out to the defense in the first inning too. Those balls were smoked forcing diving catches out of the gate. Tough loss but it was a fun one to watch for 6 2/3 innings.

    • I would love to blame the officiating but if you look close enough the do a good job, but they make mistakes against both teams, so its kind of a cop-out to blame them.

  7. Cingrani gets ahead of Heyward 0-2 on two fastballs and then misses on a fastball in the strike zone. That can happen, but on that count it seemed like a situation for trying to get Heyward to chase a slider.

    But the AB against Soler puzzles me even more. He gets him to chase a slider to get ahead of him 1-2, and then Soler fouls off a fastball. From that point, OK, try one more slider if you want, but his fastball is his best pitch, why not go up the ladder with it ?
    Instead it’s 3 straight sliders that aren’t even close to being strikes, the second one a WP and then on 3-2 he hits Soler with a slider. Couldn’t believe that was the pitch on 3-2.

    After that I knew for sure the Reds would lose.

    • I was calling for the high fastball from the couch vs. Soler but they couldn’t hear me!

  8. I don’t understand the PITCHfx diagram for Caleb’s one batter. He walked him on 4 pitches, why are there 5 pitches ?

  9. Cotham did get squeezed but Cingrani blew it. 0-2 and he left one right over the plate to Heyward. Make him chase. I thought that was the key of the game. I get the feeling we’ll be seeing a lot of “bad” Jumbo.

    On the bright side: Finnegan was fantastic. Once he gave up that first hit to Ross though, I would have pulled him. Price didn’t have anybody ready. Please stop bunting too. Finnegan had already had an RBI single. Let him hit. Price is bunt happy and I hate that mentality.

    • If Finnegan were a righthanded hitter, I could see bunting…but being left handed and fairly capable with the bat, a grounder to the right side would have worked just as well. Of course, if he strikes out…no advance. In any event, with Hamilton and DeJesus to follow, getting a run there was probably a low probability situation.

  10. Compare two managers who were faced with the exact same decision within days of each other, Dave Roberts, the Dodgers manager and Price. Here’s an AP report of what Roberts did:

    Ross Stripling was pulled with a no-hitter in progress during the eighth inning of his major league debut, and new Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was willing to take all the criticism for yanking him.

    “No-brainer,” Roberts insisted.

    Stripling went 7 1/3 innings, then left after his 100th pitch on a rainy Friday night. The San Francisco Giants wound up winning 3-2 in the 10th on Brandon Crawford’s home run.

    Roberts said he made the move to protect Stripling’s long-term health…

    “It was the right call,” Stripling said. “It was a tough decision for him and I certainly had no ill feelings toward the decision one bit.”

    How much longer will we have to endure Price’s awful decisions. If he pinch-hits for Finnengan in the top of the 7th, up 3-0, the pinch hitter is not bunting and the REDS have a better chance of winning. There’s also less pressure on the bullpen. Nobody has to get up in a hurry only to be rushed into a high leverage situation. Finnegan gets to sit down having thrown nearly 100 pitches but not giving up a hit nor any runs and his arm is protected. Think Roberts is the only manager that would’ve sat a pitcher in that situation? The Dodgers opponent’s manager, Bruce Bochy said this about Roberts move, “Sure, you’d like to give a kid a chance to get a no-hitter…You have to look after his health, and that’s what they were doing.”

    • Mark Sheldon, in his write-up after the game wrote:

      “In a 5-3 Reds loss, Finnegan carried a no-hitter for 6 2/3 innings and threw a career-high 111 pitches — trouncing his previous high of 88. The bid — which came during the Cubs’ home opener — was foiled in the seventh inning by David Ross’ clean two-out single lined into center field. All of Finnegan’s good work on the night was undone when the bullpen faltered behind him.

      “I was definitely feeling fatigued but I wasn’t going to stop,” Finnegan said of pitching into uncharted territory as a big leaguer. ”

      Price said Finnegan was OK to throw up to 20 pitches in the 7th. That Price would think it’s a good idea 7 days into the season for a pitcher to throw nearly 25% more pitches than he’d ever thrown in his professional career before is sheer lunacy. Even more so by a 23 year old.

      Ridiculous!

      • Looked to me like it was also a case of mortgaging the future (Finnegan) because Price figured he didn’t have the pen to bring the game home from the 7th inning.

        What we’ve seen so far is newer faces such as Iglesias, Finnegan, and to a degree even Stephenson combine the physical talent and mental toughness to make difficult pitches when they have to make them. Meanwhile older faces to us like Hoover, Jumbo, and Cingrani continue to make unforced error pitches.

        • Is it just me or did Cingrani’s physical mannerisms last night belie a total lack of confidence.

        • Yes, I mentioned this below, that he is pitching scared. The scowl and growl has been replaced by the deer-in-the-headlights look.

      • Ok, I’m all for pitch counting in general but I would like to point out that we’ve been monitoring pitchers, particularly young pitchers, closely. We’re still seeing a lot of UCL injuries. This makes me wonder if pitch limits are an effective way of avoiding pitcher injury? I think that Price probably pushed too hard in this case. Will it come back to bite the Reds and more importantly Finnegan? I don’t know. That said, 111 pitches isn’t a ridiculous number. I think it was too high under the circumstances (Finnegan’s previous high, the weather, the fact that he was getting tired), but I can’t completely slam Price here either. I get why he did it, and have my doubts that it did much harm.

    • And Finnegan would have left knowing he just threw 6 no-hitting innings in the MLB. Instead he left with 2 ER charged to him, and probably a bad taste in his mouth.

      • Stripling had Tommy John surgery in 2014 and only 14 starts last year. 100 pitches to Stripling, whose previous career high had been 93 and had only thrown 145 pitches all spring, was likely a heavier load than 111 to Finnegan.

        It is pure speculation to assume that 111 pitches will cause Finnegan an injury.

        This is a lousy bullpen, and will be until the injured starters from last year start coming back.

      • I don’t believe the issue has anything to do with risking an injury by throwing 100+ pitches, but by continuing to pitch when Finnigan himself admitted he had nothing left in the tank. Bad things happen when anyone, even to finely trainind athletes, when they are over extended. Mechanics get out of whack. Balance goes to pot. Over compensation begins. That’s when things break. It doesn’t have to be an elbow. It could be a shoulder, a back, an intercostal, an ankle, a knee, etc. Why take the risk when a pitcher is obviously done during his 2nd start of the season and the 6th start of his career. Besides the fact, having nothing left and continuing to pitch becomes and exercise in futility. It’s just an inexcusably bad mangerial decision and it’s not an isolated inexcusably bad mangerial decision.

  11. If this game happens in any of the past three years, it’s a maddening loss.

    This year? Disappointing, but you know what you’re going to get with this bullpen and this manager. Don’t expect things to improve anytime soon in these two regards.

  12. looked to me the home plate ump was off from 1st inning, Suarez should have gotten a walk in first inning, instead gets a called “strike” on 3-0 pitch and later lines out. that cost reds a run and a bigger inning. Then Meso called out on what seemed to me to be a borderline outside strike. oh well, baseball happens.

    However, this is what to expect this year given the current bullpen alignment for a rebuilding team.

    • I agree, the Saurez called strike ended up costing us a run. But with Meso, the way he is swinging, the ball could be on a tee and would strike out. Each time I saw those BA’s of Meso, Votto, and Hamiton I got exited because they were due. Hamilton and Votto came thru but Meso, well maybe next game.

      Hope we can sustain our play until we get Lamb, Bailey, Lorenzen, DeSclafani, even Reed and Stephenson on the staff. i am sure we can mix and match and have a solid starting and bullpen staff.

  13. Cozart is coming off major knee surgery. The fact that he has been performing at a pre-injury level speaks to a dedicated and aggressive rehab following surgery. Now he tweaks a quad early in the season following such an aggressive rehab. Cozart needs to hit the 15-day DL immediately and treat that quad to a full recovery before even thinking about coming back. Peraza is waiting at AAA for the opening on the ML roster to develope for regular playing time. This is it. Peraza to SS until Cozart is fully recovered.

    • Or maybe in a year of discovery, with Winker also in the wings, Suarez goes to SS, Duvall to 3B and they fill LF with whomever till the three weeks or so pases to save the service year on Winker then bring him up to play LF

      • I was wondering what the thought in the nation would be about sliding Suarez back to short if Cozart goes on the DL? I am not a fan of Suarez’s defense at any position so my thought is leave him at 3rd so he can grow into a new position.

        • With Peraza waiting at AAA, no one else ready to play 3B and the Reds still needing a solid leadoff hitter, I would leave Suarez at 3B and promote Peraza while Cozart is unavailable to play. I think Suarez’ defense at 3B will improve and his bat has certainly played at 3B. As soon as Cozart is 100% ready to play, Peraza goes back to AAA and Cozart takes over at SS. That should be a 3-4 week trial for Peraza at SS and leadoff on the major league roster, which should provide some gauge on what to expect next season and what he may still need to work on before a permanent promotion.

  14. I hope Williams is making plans for the next manager and those plans do not include anyone currently managing, coaching or advising in the Reds system.

      • So we’re stuck with Price for the entire season, then. Because as long as Jocketty is in the picture, he’d probably hire the same ol’, same ol’ even if Price is let go.

      • Since you ask…yes (Surprised?)

        I’ve mentioned this before and it’s straight out of LF, but Ryan Hanigan. There are innumerable managers with minor league experience (whicg Hanigan has none) who are ready for a shot at managing in the show and I don’t know if Hanigan would even be interested, but I think Hanigan could be a great manager if he wants to manage. I do believe this is his last season as a player so his future, after his playing days are over, is ahead of him.

        The chances of such an arrangement happening are virtually nil, but I would look real hard at bringing him in as soon as his contract expires this season (which coincides with the expiration of Price’s contract).

        • Hanigan isn’t bad. But he might not be far enough removed from the current group. If that be the case, I’d suggest Gabe Kapler. He missed out by a hair of being the Dodgers manager. A young energetic manager for young energetic players.
          And if they have to have ML managing experience, maybe Bud Black. He had some young pitchers in SD that he worked rather well with, but not much on the offensive side. The Reds would provide him with a much better offense and defense than he had in SD too.

        • Catchers, any catcher, Corky Miller, Alex Trevino, Dann Billardello, Dave Van Gorder, Crash Davis just stock your minor leagues with them and keep promoting

        • Gabe Kapler is going to be a fine manager me thinks.

          Loving Big56Dog’s idea of any catcher too… Of course, I’m biased when it comes to catchers.

        • Many Acta. Liked him when he was in Cleveland. He’s analytically friendly if memory serves.

  15. The hope here is the front office has orders to go find two LH relievers so the Reds can either option or DFA Jumbo and Cingrani. Neither belong on the Reds 25 man roster.
    As soon as a runner gets on with Cingrani, he pitches scared. And Jumbo is becoming a Home Run machine. His fastball might come in at 98, but it leaves the bat doing 105. I was a big fan of Cingrani, but after last night it is time to cut bait on him. Jumbo should have never come out of spring training on the 25 man roster. They both really don’t deserve 40-man roster spots. Cut bait time on both.

    • I think Cingrani should have a longer leash just because he has been so sparsely used. He has absolute talent and a naturally deceptive delivery. I say give him a solid year of 50+ appearances, but if he doesn’t show us anything he should be released or outrighted to AAA>

      • Is anyone mentoring Price? It’s hard to continue giving Price the benefit of the doubt when he continues to repeat his mistakes. Have the Reds FO made any moves to help mentor him or otherwise improve his game management? This season would be the season to do it.

        • I’m not sure that Price is being mentored, but he does seem to be talking to his bench coach, Jim Riggleman, quite a bit during the game. Will this work to improve the manager’s game strategy? Only time will tell.

      • I agree. This is especially true in a rebuilding year. This is the time to see who can and who can’t.

    • I TOTALLY agree with you on Cingrani. When he was sent down last year (through injury and performance) he was asked what he was working on, he promptly said he wasn’t working on anything. He believed the only reason he was down there was because of injury, and he didn’t need to improve on anything.

    • Agree on Cingrani somehat, I guess I like the snarl attitude and find it bizarre that after such spectacular minor league numbers and decent Rookie season he is ready to be written off after a couple sub-par injury plagued seasons.
      Granted the 0-2 pitch to Heyward was frustrating, but he did get Bryant out in a pressure filled situation. He gets Rizzo and not sure what happened with the next 2 batters but that looked mental rather than aggressive.

  16. The new technologies in baseball know no boundaries. Coming to a ML dugout near you, the Axe Bat and the Smart Bat.

    http://www.foxbusiness.com/features/2016/04/11/baseball-bat-is-finally-getting-tech-upgrade.html?intcmp=fnhpfbc

    The Axe Bat has a handle that looks like an axe handle. It is supposed to help with injuries. The RedSox’s Dustin Pedroia and Mookie Betts and Houston’s Carlos Correa are using it.
    The Smart Bat gives you read outs on certain information for a batter.
    Very interesting.

  17. Tactics are how you achieve short term objectives. Strategy is how you achieve long term goals. Put very simply tactics win battles and strategies win wars.

    Price made several tactical missteps last night, but I’m not really bothered by that. It’s just one game in a season where wins and losses probably don’t matter all that much.

    I’m much more concerned with his strategic blunders, mainly leaving Finnegan in to throw so many pitches in a meaningless game. The future of this franchise depends heavily on the stable of young pitching the Reds have acquired over the past couple years. Finnegan is one of the most talented of those young pitchers. To risk his future in any way in a game like this is unforgivable. The guy had already thrown more pitches than he ever had before in a MLB game after 6 innings. There was literally no way he could have thrown a no hitter without going over 120 pitches. So, why not take him out after 6?

    The Reds can live with tactical mistakes from Price this year. The sac bunts and strange bullpen decisions will be annoying, but it won’t really matter. They absolutely cannot live with strategic mistakes that jeopardize the long term goals. Price needs to understand this or he needs to be gone. The cannot have a situation where the front office is focused on the future while the manager is risking the future to try to maximize wins this year.

    • “It’s just one game in a season where wins and losses probably don’t matter all that much.”

      I do disagree with this statement. Wins and losses definitely matter and mean a lot to Price. If he wins he gets to keep his job. If he looses he is out of a job. He is going to do whatever it takes to win games, even if that means putting our young pitchers in “harms” way. (Although I must say that I do not believe that Finnegan throwing 111 pitches in a game is harmful).

      If the FO feels the same way that you do (and I do as well), then they should remove Price as the manager ASAP and find an interim manager who they can control for the season. We can’t expect him to look after his major league players to protect them for the next manager. People just aren’t built that way any more.

  18. Great recap Patrick. We all knew the Reds pen was going to stink, but it has been really disheartening that Jumbo Diaz and J.J. Hoover were the guys to give up the big bombs. Those were supposed to be the only decent pitchers in the pen. Probably more of an anomaly that those two have struggled and the others have done pretty good. Still, stinks nonetheless.

  19. I am even more optimistic about our young arms than I was before. This may be a pipe dream but as our DL heals a little some of these promising pitchers should end up there. I took a little time to lower my blood pressure because last night I wanted Cingrani cut…………….down from the tree he was hanging from. Thinking what I consider rationally maybe try him in that middle relief spot where he pitches like a starter but just not the second time through the order.
    I know as fans we want to second guess the manager and the GM and as Reds fans we get a multitude of chances so I try not to get wrapped up in that. The reason for that last sentence is because I would like for this to look like a reasonable thought. What in the he…..ck is Bryan Price doing in a managers position? A blind monkey would take the same roster and be within a game of what Price will achieve. I have a question for the nation if Bruce is hitting .245 with 16 HR’s at the break is an automatic trade or do we try to extend him?

    • When I said there, I was thinking in our terrible bullpen. I am sorry that what was swimming in my head didn’t make it to the keyboard.
      I don’t think we have a number 1 starter even with Homer but how successful can we be with 3 number 2 starters and 4 number 3 or 4 starters? to me that would spell a pretty good pen. That is based if they get someone who can manage a game.

    • I disagree about Price. He is pretty much an average MLB manager. What’s that say about MLB managers? 🙂

      No way am I extending Bruce if I’m the Reds.

    • Every starting pitcher taking the hill for the Reds this season has out pitched the opposing starter, with the exception of Melville. Folks that’s saying something even this early and with such a small sample size. The Reds are not even sending their best starters to the hill yet!

      Finnegan is just 23 years old and has a total (including his 2 starts this season) of 6 major league starts. The only time he has faltered in his 2 starts this season is when Price failed to get him off the mound when he was obviously gassed and he threw over 100 pitches in his last outing. This kid has the makings of a serious competitor.

      Iggy represents Arroyo on roids and this is only his 2nd season as a starting pitcher period. While he’s still learning, Iggy is dominating on the mound. 12 SO & 2 BB in 11.2 innings speaks volumes. He’s still working on his stamina and strength too. This is a true diamond in the rough.

      There are 29 other teams playing MLB, and those 2 pitchers can compete with almost all of those team’s #1 stater, except for a handful of CY candidates. These aren’t even creme of the pitching crop yet to start for the Reds this season or next season.

    • When it comes to Bruce, it really depends on if the Reds are in the hunt at the break. If they aren’t, then it’s a pretty easy matter to say “sell” and try to move him. If they are, then I think they just hang onto him. I’d be very, very surprised if they tried to extend him based on those numbers at the break. The org seems to have soured on Bruce over the last couple seasons. I could see them perhaps picking up is option at the end of the year if he isn’t moved before then, but that’s about as far as I think they’ll go.

  20. Reply to Steve’s comments, which are all great questions:

    “To indulge your fantasy, if Stephenson was in the bullpen, who would have started the third game of the season?”

    A: Stephenson. Stephenson needed to get his first start under his belt, and while I have been a fierce critic of management for selling fans on the propositions that: (1) the Reds needed to burn the team to the ground in order to contend in the future; and (2) we should all get our heads wrapped around enjoying losing 100 games this season and simply sit back and watch the yutes develop, I give management tremendous credit for giving Stephenson his first start despite the fact he essentially spit the bit in Spring Training and pulled a Jordan Spieth when offered a mulligan. That said, when Stephenson demonstrated in his debut that he was ready for prime time, I would have kept him on the 25-man, in part because of the injuries to numerous starters, but also because of my fervent belief that his development is accelerated by pitching to MLB hitters at the back of the pen, and spot-starting, when necessary, rather than pitching against journeyman and wannabes in AAA. It’s not like this is his second or third year in the minors. It’s his fifth. And I think his value add this year would be so substantial that it would more than justify burning a service year. What we know from what we’ve seen thus far is that Jumbo, JJ and Cingrani simply don’t have sufficient speed or stuff to blow guys away. At the end of the day, that’s what you need to close out wins. And there’s no one in the pen right now, in my view, who can getter done on a consistent basis. Stephenson can. And the best time to leverage a fireballer’s fastball is when they’re young. Then, after they’ve gained confidence, and honed their off-speed stuff, they can be converted to a starter if necessary. Gullett proved that. I believe Chapman had the stuff to be a #1 starter, but that ship has sailed. All I know is we’re 5-2 and we’d be undefeated if we had someone who could blow guys away and we don’t have that right now.

    “How can you assert that Stephenson would be a good relief pitcher when he has never done it?”

    A.: Gullett and Chapman demonstrated you don’t need experience to do it, you just need a fastball with 95-100 giddy-up and one off-speed pitch.

    “You are missing something. Lots of somethings in fact. Start with: Pirates, Cubs and Cardinals. All clearly better than the Reds right now.”

    A: We’ll have to agree to disagree on that. Based at least upon the limited sample set we’ve seen thus far, the Reds are giving the Pirates and the Cubs are real run for their money. Finnegan is sick good. Iglesias is good, … maybe a couple ticks below Finnegan, but still really really good. Simon, who knows. Bailey seems to be progressing well in his rehab. Cozart and Meso are both what maybe 75-80? Peraza’s not even here yet. Once the competition for spots on the 25 heats up in a month or so, this club could be the sleeper of the year. Again, I’m not buying my playoff tickets just yet, but everyone can see this team has a secret sauce that comes from a bunch of hungry guys who want to be in the show – like Holt and Duvall – pushing everyone else, and these kids really really like playing with one another. I’m very encouraged by what I see. I get the service time argument on Stephenson, I really do, I still, on balance, would have him here.

    • So you would have had Stephenson start on Thursday then pitch out of the bullpen on Saturday. I’m glad the Reds pitching coaches don’t use pitchers that way.

      How many pitches did Stephenson throw that were 95-100 mph in his start? I don’t think any. Fastball mainly was around 92. Stephenson can’t pitch 2-3 innings of relief every night, so he alone doesn’t fix the bullpen.

      Someone wanted me to write an April Fool’s article on a report that the Reds had decided to use Stephenson in the bullpen. I didn’t do it because I didn’t think anyone would believe it, even for a second, it’s such a horrible idea. Another Chapman-style waste of a great arm.

      • No, what I’m saying Steve is that I would have kept Stephenson on the 25-man roster and had him pitch at the back end of the pen. Of course you give him ample time to rest, whatever that looks like, before you call on him to give you innings out of the pen. As far as speed, a starter like Stephenson or Bailey who top-end can throw 97-99 tend to pitch in the 92-94 range in starts because of the number of innings and pitches they have to throw. But if you’re only asking Stephenson to go 1 or 2 innings, then yeah, I think the guy could easily give you 95 to 99. And if you think Chapman closing was a waste of a great arm, then we have to simply agree to disagree. Chapman loved the adrenaline rush of closing and was by far the best in the business and, like you guys are quick to point out, baseball games are entertainment, and everyone loved seeing Chapman come in to blow guys away. For fastball pitchers, I think it lengthens their careers by breaking them in as relievers. Most of the scouting reports I’ve read on Stephenson are optimistic but there are serious concerns about whether he’ll blow out his arm because of his herby-jerky pitching motion. What’s crystal clear is that, while it’s early, this team has some serious game despite the injuries and the fact that there are so many new faces. Given the injury-prone nature of the starters, there’s a better than average chance that Stephenson would get a fair number of spot starts this year, and were he to be lights out in those opportunities, the Reds would be looking at a rotation of Finnegan, Iglesias, Stephenson, Bailey and TBD (a competition between the rest). I like that rotation a lot and I think there’s a chance we might just catch fire in a bottle. Writing off the year based upon what we’ve seen thus far simply makes no sense.

        • I love your underlying optimism. I don’t agree, but I love, love, love it. Stephenson in the pen is an interesting case. If I thought the Reds were going for a playoff spot this year, I could theoretically get behind that idea but with two pretty large concerns outside of simply service time concerns. One, what if Stephenson is great there and has no desire to start after that? Should the Reds point the finger and say “You’re a starter now, deal with it!”? Today’s game and players aren’t the same as when Gullet was plying his trade. Two, Stephenson still has some command issues that I think he needs to address in the minors. The guy has a high BB-rate and occasionally misses in the k-zone as well. This can burn him at the back of a bullpen and I think it will make him a less effective reliever than perhaps one might think.

        • They didn’t keep Stephenson here because it would be irresponsible and not in the team’s long term best interest. Losing a year of team control in order to have him in the bullpen is a terrible idea and defies logic. A small market team cannot waste service time.

          Making emotional decisions based on a 5-2 start ( with 3 of the wins coming against the worst team in baseball) is what dumb team do to drive attendance in the short run. There’s nothing wrong with optimism…..there’s also nothing wrong with pragmatism.

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