Final R H E
Cincinnati Reds (5-4) 1 6 2
Chicago Cubs (8-1) 8 11 0
W: Hammel (1-0) L: Iglesias (1-1)
FanGraphs Win Probability | Box Score

The Good
–Not much to say here. This was a 3-0 game going into the bottom of the eighth, and the Reds ostensibly still had a chance to pull out a fun come-from-behind victory. Yeah, that didn’t happen.

–Jay Bruce had two hits, including a double, and a walk. And if you haven’t noticed, he seems to have an improved approach at the plate thus far, with 8 of his 11 hits so far going to center or opposite field. It’ll be interesting to see if that is a real change or just a small sample size fluke.

But see below.

As noted by Trent, Blake Wood and Caleb Cotham — who threw consecutive scoreless innings tonight — are the only Reds relievers who haven’t given up a run this season.

The Bad
–I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a worse bullpen than the current Reds pen. That’s not hyperbole. I’m serious.

Remember when I said it was a 3-0 game in the eighth inning? It was actually a pretty tight contest, and there’s always hope that the Redlegs can come back in a situation like this. Well, JJ Hoover entered the game, retired the first batter, then promptly dumped gasoline on the fire. When the smoke cleared, Hoover couldn’t escape the inning, collecting only that one out…while surrendering five runs on three hits and three walks. Just terrible. Hoover’s ERA is now a cool 20.25.

Hoover didn’t give up a grand slam, though.

–In the eighth inning, Jay Bruce made a really nice sliding catch. Then he promptly jumped up and fired the ball to first base, hoping to double up the Chicago runner. Just one problem: no Reds player was within 50 feet of first base. Bruce threw it to no one. You can imagine the result.

–Brandon Phillips made an error too. It was that kind of night.

Not-So-Random Thoughts
–Ugh. Never a good night when you get swept by the stupid Cubs.

–Raisel Iglesias was not sharp, but he wasn’t awful. Five innings pitched, three runs allowed on six hits and two walks.

–Zack Cozart and Devin Mesoraco were out of the lineup agqin. I’m sure the Reds will tell us again tomorrow that there’s no problem, no setback, and they’ll be back on Saturday. (Lesson: don’t believe anything the Reds tell you about injuries.)

–So long, Chicago. The Reds are off to St. Louis tomorrow.

–This seems appropriate tonight:

Milton was unhappy with Cincinnati's performance tonight.

Milton was unhappy with Cincinnati’s performance tonight.

Blame Chad for creating this mess.

Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, “The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds” is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad’s musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.

You can email Chad at chaddotson@redlegnation.com.

Join the conversation! 68 Comments

  1. Downright depressing.

  2. JJ Hoover sure is having his struggles. Can’t even hold a 3-0 deficit now. The Walkinator. Brutal.
    Bruce is looking very fine at the plate. Sweet swing on the double down the LF line. I think this is for real, no fluke. Give it a couple of months and if he has stayed the course, its time to pick up the option and talk 3 year extension. Worth the investment if he keeps this going. Make him a pillar of the rebuild/re-boot with Votto and Suarez.
    Uncle Miltie, welcome back.

    • unfortunately, we should have done that over the off season and bought low.

      Jay is playing like an all star. I get the error in doubling off at 1st base, he slid to make the catch and was excited when he saw the runner that far off the bag. and he did double off dexter (?) in the first inning.

      Still gets a milton for the play, but I get why

  3. I think them good news is that Humpty Hoover threw enough pitches tonight that he won’t be available Friday night should the Reds be in a situation where they might have a chance to win.

  4. …and that’s the closer!

  5. i really dislike the Cubs, even when we used to do this to them. Hoover is our Marmol (I think that was the Cubs closers name a couple years back)

    • Marmol would have given up the walks but no the hits. His stuff was unreal. Actually, it was so good it was pretty much uncontrollable. Therein was the guy’s problem.

  6. Price said on the post game that he believes Hoover will respond in his next save chance.

    This reminds me of a political philosophy prof I had 40+ years ago who would stand up on the desk, flap his arms like wings, and say he believed that if he jumped off the desk he would be able to fly even though he had never been successful in doing so in the past. There is one big difference though. This prof would always talk himself down off the desk without testing his theory; but Price is a pretty sure bet to hand Hoover the ball the next time the Reds have a save situation.

    • While I’m not disagreeing with your post, it’s not like Price has a lot of other great options to go to. Jumbo has looked terrible, Cingrani has been the usual disappointment (to me at least). Not sure who else I would try although it likely can’t be any worse than JJ, or can it????

      • They thought enough of Wood as a closer in AAA for the Pirates org last year to give him a major league contract. That’s a place to start.

    • Jim, besides health reasons, can you recall any closer who has ever lost the job without a single clean save opportunity?

      I doubt Hoover is the closer by July, but there isn’t a manager in MLB that would remove without giving him a chance to actually do the job.

      • With Price having formally named Hoover his closer, he is probably “obligated” to let him blow a clean save or two; but. given Hoover’s difficulties with saves in prior years (in admittedly limited opportunities) and overall performance to date this year, he could make a credible case to back away from Hoover as the official closer,

  7. Obviously we have 2014 Hoover again this year. He seems to be another “even/odd year” guy, because his odd years have been impressive and his even years have been disasters.

    Give someone else the chance to close. Whether that be someone currently in the rotation (Moscot will be back Sunday, DeSclafani soon to follow, and Lamb should be back relatively soon, so either Lamb or one of the current starters will be the odd man out), or even giving Cingrani or Diaz a shot at it for a while. In my opinion, Hoover needs to earn the right to close again after this disastrous start to the season.

    As much as I think Lorenzen and Finnegan both have the stuff to be starters, perhaps at some point they should be considered as closers. Additionally, we have Rookie Davis and Keury Mella, to name a few, in the minors that could be potential closers. And I wouldn’t rule out Cotham as a possible closer if he keeps pitching like he has.

    • At this point I have seen a better starter in Finnegan than in Stephenson. I think Stephenson would make for an excellent reliever but he simply hasn’t proven that he can keep his pitch counts down in order to be an effective starter.

  8. pobrecitos los rojitos

  9. Ah, a Milton sighting. I’m not sure what’s funnier, Milton or some of Jim’s comments. Levity in the face of this mess is welcomed.

    • Isn’t it amazing that all these decades later my mind’s eye can still see that guy standing on the desk flapping his “wings” yet consciously at least, I have no clue what any of the points were that he was trying to make with his routine?

  10. Cubs are really good. Reds are not.

    • They are still the Cubs. Hammel is not Cy young. The Reds walked the entire team, and a couple of fans, at one point or another. High pitch counts and walks doomed us after Finnigan departed.

      • Just curious what “they are still the Cubs” means. They are the best team in baseball right now. There are no lingering effects of their hapless past.

    • The Cubbies are not looking so stupid as in days gone past.

  11. Mised Arrieta and still got rolled….not good? Tim Melville to prevent a 4 gm losing streak….not good? If we had most of our pitchers and Mesoraco and Cozart then I think we’re better than the aging Cards but we don’t? Atleast they can’t blame this one on cold weather.

  12. “If we had most of our pitchers and Mesoraco and Cozart then I think we’re better than the aging Cards but we don’t?”

    Not sure if serious?

    • Everybody they have is aging or unproven? Their farm system is depleted as well. They’ll prob finish higher than the Reds this year but we’re on the come and they’re declining

      • umm… The Cardinals middle infield is 25 years or younger, 3b is 30, 2/3 of the outfield is under 25. Yeah, Holiday and Molina are old.. and maybe Wainwright, but they have a guy named Reyes who’s coming and is supposed to be better than Martinez.. oh and their pitching isn’t that old either.. just saying.

  13. Who would buy a “Hoover the Groover” t-shirt?

    • Hoover will be but a memory in a year or two… Ahhh, to be pining for David Weathers. The guy threw strikes unless he was intentionally working around somebody and was a pretty solid closer for a guy who had marginal stuff.

      I do love the “Hoover the Groover” moniker though. It’s tough for me because I like Hoover and really, really want to see him succeed. This has been horrid though.

  14. On to some good news from yesterday…

    From AAA:
    Stephenson pitched 6.0 innings giving up 2 runs, 1 earned, w/ 7-SO & 1-BB
    Winker had 2 hits in 4 PA
    Somsen pitched 2.0 innings w/ 3-SO & 0-BB (0.55 WHIP in 3.2 innings)
    D. Diaz pitched 1.0 innings w/ 1-SO & 0-BB (0.43 WHIP in 2.1 innings)

    From AA:
    Romano pitched 5.0 innings giving up 1 run w/ 7-SO & 0-BB
    Astin pitched 1.0 innings w/ 2-SO & 0-BB (0.82 WHIP in 3.2 innings)
    Peralta pitched 2.0 innings w/ 2-SO & 0-BB (0.40 WHIP in 5.0 innings)

    Stephenson throwing strikes and NOT throwing balls portends good things to come.
    Romano came back with a solid 2nd outing after he struggled in his 1st outing.
    Four solid relief performances last night by relievers who have put in solid early performances this season.

  15. The Reds bullpen is currently 8/15 in the NL in ERA……not sure how that’s even possible….2nd most IP, most BB allowed, and 4th best BAA. Looks like if they could get the frekkin ball over the plate, they may not fare too poorly. The problem with it is more the timing of when the disasters occur….. not much else to say, other than at least we’re moving on to easier teams (haha). Still standing by my prediction of an 8-10 win month.

    • Possibly the bullpen surrendered starter runs. Or the runs they allowed were unearned.

      • Yep. This. I think a lot of the badness of the pen has been in not holding/stranding the runners.

        To try and support that point, I looked up “left on base %” for relievers, expecting the Reds to be terrible. They’re actually 14th best of 30 in MLB.

        Weird.

    • Bull pen did good early on (excepting pirates grand slam). Another series or two like this last one, and those numbers will change.

  16. I am going to go on record and say that Mesoraco was a one season wonder. Hope I’m wrong but not seeing him ever being the production monster that we both want and need.

    • I agree…unfortunately. If he does start mashing again then he’d prob break down physically again? Barnhart is a great overachiever but he might be too small to play regularly? He’s not a big guy. Maybe Mesoraco holds up for 300 atbats and hits 15 hrs and around .240ish? That would be my expectations

      • I was skeptical before his big season, then was proven wrong. I am back on the skeptical side of the fence again. The league has figured him out, and he is not adjusting to it. He still swings violently, so the injury isn’t the issue. I’m still ready to give him the whole year to bounce back. He’s earned that.

    • Between lower body issues and a couple of concussions, Mesoraco has certainly had trouble staying on the field since he arrived at the MLB level.

      He looks really rusty right now. That’s understandable given that he basically missed all of last year.

      I’d like to see them leverage this quad issue by putting him on the DL and letting him do a full term of rehab at AAA to get him back to game speed.

    • He’s injured. No one plays well when injured.

      Maybe he’s never healthy again. That would suck, but maybe it happens.

      I don’t think there’s any of this “the league has figured him out” stuff. He’s had virtually no playing time this season, and all if it has been in winter weather. Also, he’s hit several hard ground balls and none of them have found holes. That’s called bad luck.

      • Yeah…but that’s part of the problem. He needs to elevate the ball more. Perhaps that’s a good article for the editors. Compare his 2014 swing with 2016’s.

        • I agree it would be a neat article, but maybe at the end of May. Can’t really tell anything with the amount of playing time Meso has had in 2016 thus far.

      • Meso’s defense is of more concern to me than his offense right now. I’ve never understood how a guy with the hand/ eye coordination to hit like Meso does could look so klutz at times behind the plate.

        Right now he needs lots of reps catching high quality stuff. The pitching staff at Louisville has guys with as good as and better pure stuff than the MLB staff. That’s why I’d like to see them DL him and subsequently send him out for 2-3 weeks of rehab work at AAA.

      • Completely agree. He is still hurt. You can tell just by watching him play the game. There was no reason to delay his hip surgery for 2 months like they did last year. Absolutely no excuse. He is still rusty because he is playing catch up to his injury. He may never be the same, but we need at least 150-200 ABs to know that in my opinion.

    • Based on what? Pure pessimism?

  17. At least they won’t be playing in arctic conditions for a while…

  18. I don’t know if Lorenzen has the mental make up, but from what I saw last year he is the answer for the closer. I will add that I have no doubt that Price would not get the most from him.
    He either needs time to develop or refine another pitch because last year he didn’t look like he was effective the second and third time to face a hitter. He did look like he could be a 5 or even 6 out closer with his “stuff”, the fact that Price would rather have a fit than pitch his closer more than 3 outs or lord forbid in a hold situation. The fact that I could be as ineffective as Hoover at a lot less money I am betting my phone still won’t ring.

    • Lorenzen impressed the Reds enough as a closer in college, coming on from his everyday CF position, that they spent the 38th overall draft pick on him. Then they decided to convert him to a starter despite the fact most orgs had projected him as a mid 2nd rounder as a outfielder.

  19. On Jay Bruce…We’ve all seen him when he’s going good for brief periods of time. It always coincides with him hitting opposite field and laying off bad pitches. He inevitably has slipped back into all of the bad habits time and time again. Every time we think he has turned the corner, he does a U-turn.

    Here’s hoping he finally turned the corner. But how do we tell? His slumps can only be week-long, not month(s)-long. If he continues to walk, which means he’s laying off the junk.

    • But what goes with JB on defense. The ball Hammel hit for the double last night was beyond a routine chance because Bruce was playing shallow due to Hammel being a pitcher. That said it surely looked like he misread it, turned the wrong way initially, and locked himself into a terrible route on a ball it looked like he might have at least gotten a glove on.

  20. I was at the game……well mostly. Horrible rush hour traffic notwithstanding, now there’s metal detectors that take 10 minutes to get thru. Missed the top of the 1st, left by the 8th. Kids, don’t underestimate travel/parking/entrance hassles in your evaluation of the fan experience. GABP is a gem all things considered. Wrigley is great too once you’re in the stadium….at least for those 30-odd games a year when the weather’s nice. It’s why I prefer Milwaukee hands down—a roof! Nothing I wasn’t prepared for, but the lake breeze had the temps in the 40’s even though it was near 70 in the ‘burbs. Hard to blame the team for looking unprepared and stiff, but man, they didn’t have an ounce of fight in them the whole series.

    Still wondering why Schebler didn’t play vs. a RHP again. Wondering why Bruce can’t will himself to go all out for a fly ball. Wondering why Pacheco is on a major league roster. Ugh.

  21. Don’t know how the clubhouse feels…its still early…but if it slips into despondency, leading to one of our 9 game losing streaks…Price must go. Yes, pros shouldn’t need to be rallied, but that’s really the most important thing a manager can do.

    • I still think Price is a bright guy and might figure it out but that’s def questionable? Sparky wouldn’t win with this pen and 1-2 legit starters available either though?

      • Sparky was a genius when he had the best lineup in history. He lost 103 games with the 1989 Tigers.

        Joe Torre lost 99 games with the 1979 Mets. Bruce Bochy lost 98 games with the 2003 Padres. Bobby Cox lost 94 games with the 1979 Braves.

        Talent matters…managers don’t.

        • Sorry Chuck ,managers DO matter ! Price is NOT a good manager, period.

        • You may have biases against Price, but there is really no evidence that suggest that managers matter. Price has a bad record….Price has a bad roster. No one wins with bad players

  22. Maybe they’ll be in line for a top-2 draft pick next year, too. Which would actually be ok with me.

    • I was thinking the other day that 2 years in a row near the top of the draft and close to having the largest International signing allotment should give the Reds a decent pool of incoming talent. Particularly if they go over their allotment the 2nd year.

  23. Yikes – the last two nights have not been fun. I tend to question the focus and professionalism of players after being swatted around like that. I mean the Cubs are good but not that good.

    Not a popular sentiment, but I wonder if at the first sign of adversity, some players [who fully recognize mgmt’s intent to rebuild/tank] decide to hustle less.

    It’s early and being reactionary is too easy. This weekend may be more telling.

    • The best team in baseball played one of the worst. Focus and professionalism only get you so far.

      • Our perceptions are often skewed in the W/L record as well. A lot of commenters noted the improved fundamentals and the hustle and desire of this year’s Reds team. Now that they got their butts handed to them, the desire is questioned.

        That said, it is relatively easy to play out the string when you know you’re gonna get your butt handed to you or when you see a common re-occurrence of failure.

        • Yep, players are “loose” and “having fun” when they win, or “lack professionalism” when they lose.

          The more, reserved introvert-type players (Griffey Jr., Votto) are calm, collected professionals when the team wins. They “lack passion”, or “don’t care” or have “checked out” when the team loses.

          Fans are both oddly predictable and crazy.

          • Indeed. Sometimes even my teammates would call me out as not caring when in fact I’m horribly introverted in person and am just not a rah rah guy. For a pro athlete, who has even more pressure to perform and the media and fans with their eyes on him/her, I imagine it is 100x worse than what I had to deal with.

      • Now it is three nights in a row. Bad or no, there’s no excuse to get blown out 3 straight games unless the effort isn’t there. Most of the blame is on the pitchers.

    • I disagree. I think the Cubs are very, very good and worthy of WS projections. I know it’s been awhile, but that team is admirable. I don’t even hate them like other teams they’ve had (their fans are another story).

      I love Maddon and love the roster flexibility they’ve built. And, as we noticed, a team that is willing to take pitches tends to take wins right along with them.

      • Finnegan shut them down and they’re getting shutdown today! Of course they have a deep lineup and they work pitchers but I wouldn’t compare them to some of the patient Jeter and ARod teams or Red Sox teams when it comes to hitting for average and/or power along with running up pitch counts. If they lost Game 1 with Arrieta 2-1 or something then they could be in trouble?

      • Still the Cubs. They are exceptional in forcing opponents to throw strikes – picked that up from STL.

  24. “Lesson: don’t believe anything the Reds tell you about injuries.”

    Sadly, no reason to give this franchise the benefit of the doubt.

    • We’re saying this without knowing the extent of the injuries. We can hardly claim to be victims of subterfuge until the subterfuge is verified.

  25. Lack of quality starters, depressing bullpen, and streaky hitting… Starting to look like last year…

Comments are closed.

About Chad Dotson

Blame Chad for creating this mess. Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, "The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds" is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad's musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine. You can email Chad at chaddotson@redlegnation.com.

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2016 Reds, Titanic Struggle Recap

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