After Thursday night’s win over the Reds, the Pirates record stood 69-69. If they had proceeded to sweep the Reds, they would have been just a couple games out of the second NL Wild Card slot. With their next 11 games against the Phillies, Brewers and Reds, the Pirates would have had a decent shot at making the postseason.

Instead, the Reds won three straight, effectively pushing Clint Hurdle’s Pirates off the end of their own plank. They’ll spend the postseason dog-paddling in an ocean of mediocrity.

If you predicted the Reds wouldn’t win 60 games this year, you were wrong. Eight of those wins have been against the Pirates.

Cincinnati 8  Pittsburgh Hurdles 0 |  FanGraphs  

Brandon Finnegan made it through five innings. There are two ways to look at his performance. On the one hand, he gave up no runs. His strike out numbers have been fantastic. In his last five starts – including 7 Ks today – Finnegan has struck out 42 batters in 30 innings. But he also surrendered five walks and five hits. Twice he worked around bases loaded. Walks continue to be a problem for Finnegan, he walked four in his previous start. Finnegan’s ERA is now 4.04 but his FIP is 5.28, far and away the worst for a qualified starter in the NL.

Today’s start was Finnegan’s 29th of the season. He’s now thrown 164.2 innings compared to 105.1 last season. Bryan Price said earlier in the week he was looking for Finnegan to make one more start after today. “I’d like to see if we can get him to 30 starts and into that 170-175 innings range,” said Price. “That would be a good workload and a good season for Brandon.”

Jumbo Diaz, Ross Ohlendorf and Wandy Peralta finished the last four innings.

The Reds pulled way ahead in the top of the 2nd with five runs. Adam Duvall started off the inning with a triple. Brandon Phillips lined a single to center that Andrew McCutchen misplayed into two more bases for the Reds second baseman. A Scott Schebler ground out scored Phillips. Tyler Holt tripled past a diving McCutchen, driving in Ramon Cabrera and Ivan De Jesus Jr., who had walked and been hit by a pitch. Eugenio Suarez plated the final run with an infield single. Phillips and Schebler hit back-to-back doubles in the third to add the Reds’ sixth run.

Andrew McCutchen’s poor defense in CF doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone who pays attention to actual measurements of that skill. McCutchen has consistently put up negative defensive metrics over his career. Even before today’s game, McCutchen rated as one of the ten worst defensive players in the NL. The Derek Jeter of his day.

Tyler Holt was 3-for-5. Eugenio Suarez had two hits and a walk, but also let a double play ground ball go between his legs. Brandon Phillips was 3-for-4.

Bryan Price announced today that the Reds are skipping Anthony DeSclafani’s start tomorrow. Zach Buchanan reported that Price said DeSclafani is fine, but that the manager had noticed a downtick in DeSclafani’s stuff the last few starts. “It’s just a breather,” Price said. “He’s had a little bit of a lull in his stuff. He wasn’t saying anything, he’s fine.” Instead, Keyvius Sampson will receive a spot start. Sampson last started on August 16 against the Brewers. He gave up two hits and a walk while striking out four in five innings. Sampson is a logical candidate to take Finnegan’s spot in the rotation the last three weeks of the season.

Nick Kirby, who is on his honeymoon, was repping Redleg Nation at Cooperstown today!



Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

Join the conversation! 53 Comments

  1. I don’t see Finnegan as a vialdidate to start for us next year. I am sure he will but he is basically Simon in 2014. He gets good fielding, run support and luck. That will not always be the case.

    I know I will get backlash but look at the numbers on the 3 lefties from the Cueto trade. If you were not biased by being a Reds fan, what does the data say! They are probably 3 of the worst starters in the entire MLB. I think Finnegan has a future in the bullpen, and Reed always has hope but I don’t see more than minimal value for a future playoff team.

    • Reed is far too young and inexperienced at the Major League level to draw any legitimate conclusions about his future. Seems like many overreacted when Reed struggled in the Majors, but I just think he wasn’t quite ready for the Majors yet. I agree that Finnegan is likely to end up in the bullpen, and I think Lamb is a 5th starter or bullpen arm, if anything. But Reed has the potential to make this trade look pretty good if he can continue to improve and realize his full potential.

      • Cueto was going to be an expensive rental for the team that acquired him, and the Reds had little chance to sign him for an affordable price, so the trade could very well end up looking good. The three guys the Reds got are all young and have upside. Command is their common issue, as it is for most young pitchers.

    • But Reed and Finnegan are only 23 there is no comparison to Simon. Finnegan has also picked it up the 2nd half which exactly the opposite of Simon who made the Allstar that year. Reed only pitched about 100 innings above single A and was rushed for whatever reason. Lamb chances are fading at 25 but its a very pessimistic outlook to think they will have minimal value. I agree Finnegan future is the bullpen mainly because of all the talent- and he has playoff experience in high leverage situation which Simon did.

    • Even if Finnegan turns out to be a lock down back end bullpen guy for several seasons, which seems his floor, that seems to me to be a reasonable return for 2 months and a postseason of a guy who was unaffordable to the Reds going forward. In that situation, any value added by Reed, who I still think has a middle of the rotation floor barring injury, would be a bonus.

      • I still don’t see anyone arguing against that the existing data is pretty bad. I personally think these guys will help out somewhere but to say this has been good value is not accurate. Addison Russell for Samarja the same year and Fulmer for Cespedes last year are examples of quality over quantity. This team needs to hit big on trades, not just get by. Treading water will lead to another lost decade.

        • Probably all you need to conclude at this point is that it’s too early for conclusions.

        • So with very little data on the three pitchers we got, you are already to call it a poor deal? Wow…

  2. A nice turnaround after the Reds recent downturn. Why is Peraza not in the starting lineup? It makes no sense.

    • His finger is banged up from getting hit yesterday.

    • Even if his finger wasn’t injured yesterday, he was likely due for a day off, having started 8 straight games, and struggling a bit at the plate in his past 3 games.

  3. If and it may be a big if Finnegan cuts down on the walks he could be dominate for a long time.The changeup has made him a legit starter and he gets a lot of swings and misses with it.Another young guy who has learned to pitch at the big league level and at only 23 has a very high ceiling.

    • His change up is promising but he has a tendency to walk guys and give up homers. That is not high ceiling, more like unfulfilled talent. I have no issue with him starting this year, but just don’t see him as realistic long term.

      • Plenty of good pitchers give up homers–Robin Roberts, for example. Finnegan walks too many, sure, but he’s too young and there is a reasonable chance that his control will improve.

  4. Thanks for the great recap! My son had for about a day and was unable to do much more than catch the occasional update on game day.

    A friend of mine asked me if Joey Votto or any of the other players could have any influence on whether or not Price is retained. I said I didn’t know. It appears to me the players are still playing hard. And I think that’s the best indicator that Price will probably be retained.

    Any thoughts on players’ opinions?

    I left last Sunday’s game with an extra bobble head. I think it might belong to LWBlogger’s daughter. But I am not sure.

    • Seemed like there were a lot of post earlier in the week how this team had quit, amazing what a few wins against a disinterested team can do, especially when Hurdle continued to make questionable decsions

    • Nope, it isn’t ours. My girlfriend gave hers to my daughter and I have mine. Your extra Suarez bobble-head remains a mystery.

  5. When the Old Cossack saw Cozart leading off today, I just shook the ol’ noggin in despair. When Price revamped the lineup afterCozart was removed from the lineup with an aching knee by inserting Holt in the leadoff position with Suarez batting in the #2 hole, I got excited. Then I realized there was no TV coverage of the game and just cursed under my breath (the young Cossacks were within easy ear shot).

    Holt => 3-5 w/ 1-2B & 1-3B
    Suarez => 2-4 w/ 1-BB

    That beat the heck out of the top 2 spots in the lineup for the last 2 games. Dang I like me some Holt playing regularly and hitting in the top of the lineup, but there just isn’t a position for him to play and he doesn’t seem to adapt well to a utility role.

    It’s a shame that Price had that dang Votto guy hitting in the middle of the lineup. With everyone else having an offensive hay-day, any contribution by Votto would have made it a laughable, in-your-face kinda day against the Bucos.

    • I don’t understand what you see in Tyler Holt that I don’t. He’s a low power guy, with subpar defense. Even if he hits right at his career MiLB numbers (.274/.367/.351/.718), with his defense, he’d be a below-replacement level player.

      • Holt is bad defensively? I haven’t seen enough of him to have an opinion, but my impression is that he’s considered to be a good fielder.

        • We must have watched him playing a different game. I have seen him in RF a couple of times and in CF a couple of times. When playing RF his lack of arm makes me think CF when he plays CF his lack of speed makes me think RF. He is just south of terrible in the field!

        • He most definitely does not pass the “eye test.” The metrics seem to agree, as he has a negative UZR, -4 DRS, and all-around poor defensive metrics.

        • Here’s the link to his fangraphs page, forgot to include it in my previous post.

        • I had thought that Holt was a plus defender but upon seeing him on the TV and a few times in person, I’ve been less than impressed. I’d say he’s on the low side of average for a CF and above average in LF. He really doesn’t have the arm for right.

  6. Finnegan’s uptick in strikeouts is encouraging. One aspect of being a successful MLB starter is being able to strike out MLB hitters, and he has shown he can do that.

    Unfortunately, the other part of the occassion is giving up minimal walks. So far, he’s not there yet, but he’s already won half the battle.

    If he can get the walks down, he could be a very decent #2-#3 starter for the Reds for a long time.

  7. I’m going to throw something into the discussion about FIP which occurs to me pretty much every time I hear it discussed. It seems to me that the strength of FIP can also be its weakness because in real life pitchers don’t pitch in fielding independent circumstances.

    FIP is in all likelihood a reasonable or even outstanding index of how a pitcher might perform in a virtual fielding independent environment. However if i am running a specific team, it provides nothing more than a starting point at best. I’m going to want to overlay my defense and the parameters of my home park and most likely the other parks in my division before I start using the output in my shaping my final decisions on pitchers.

    Not that such a process is likely to turn a Straily or a Finnegan into top of the list pitchers; but, it may well show that in given circumstances they might emerge as solid middle of the rotation risks in a favorable contract/ control/ cost situation. .

    • I think the better way to look at it is “what is the likelihood that the actual ERA is valid” which is more important in the case of a small sample size. Ultimately FIP is an attempt to find something that is predictive more so of future success. However, there are players who outperform FIP over large samples (the good ones mostly).

  8. I was one of those people back in May who thought the Reds wouldn’t win 60. Glad I was wrong. Team is way better than I expected. Gives hope for next yr.

    • I don’t remember if we had a ‘predict the number of wins’ thread this year or not. I had them at 68-94 and in 4th place. I had the Brewers losing 99 games and in last.

  9. Try thinking of ERA and FIP (or xFIP, etc.) this way:

    Both measure how a pitcher *has* pitched.

    ERA measures the pitcher based on how many earned runs he gave up. Nothing more.

    FIP measures the pitcher based on strikeouts, walks and home runs given up. Nothing more.

    xFIP leaves out home runs.

    SIERA gives extra weight to strikeouts and also factors in batted ball type (ground ball rate).

    There is nothing inherently predictive or theoretical about FIP, xFIP and SIERA. They just base evaluations of pitchers on things other than runs given up.

    The argument for FIP > ERA is that pitchers have more control over strikeouts and walks (and ground balls) they do earned runs.

    • Thanks for the tutorial!

    • FIP, xFIP, and SIERA are all great. I prefer SIERA just because it accounts for some of the complexity of batted balls. Guys that produce a lot of GBs consistently limit the damage of balls in play. You can’t rely totally on ground balls, but add in solid walk and strikeout rates, and you have a good pitcher. SIERA seems to predict future ERA better than the others if only slightly.

      • Top 3 Reds pitchers by SIERA (min 40 IP)
        1. Michael Lorenzen: 2.85
        2. Raisel Iglesias: 3.71
        3. Anthony Desclafani: 3.91

        I’m a big fan of those three.

        • That list jives nicely with “name the people on this staff with the best stuff”

      • I like SIERA as well. Nothing in a vacuum though. There is no accounting for how well a pitcher controls the running game, for example, in any of the predictive measures. When looking at a pitcher, if he is pretty consistently outperforming his SIERA (with a lower ERA), then there is likely some reason. I like to try to find the reason(s).

    • Thanks, Steve.

    • Thanks for the detailed explanation. In my personal opinion, there is not one metric that is better than the other. Rather, looking at them all together gives you a better idea of how good a pitcher really is.

  10. Watched the score from my seat along the RF line in DC today. Kind of amazed we whipped the Rats that big, but I guess that’s baseball for you.

  11. Considering this is Brandon Finnegan’s first full season as a starter at any level, I think he has shown improvement as the season has gone on and looks to make it through the whole season. I don’t know that he will ever be a top level starter, but he’s really only 23 years old and really maybe a 10-15% improvement away from being quite solid.

    • Agreed

      Lots of movement on his pitches today. I liked it even if the pitch rolled off the plate more than on. It was moving both ways. He gets that 2 seamer movement down where it backs up when thrown inside and we will see his era start to creep downward

      Finnigan is a starter

  12. Rebuilding Reds will start 2017 payroll with at least $67MM on guaranteed contracts to only 5 players (Votto, Bailey, Philips, Mesoraco & Iglesias). From those 5 players, 2 are not sure to play in 2017 due to injuries.

    • Yeah, that’s not ideal but the Reds tried to move BP and failed. There is still a chance he won’t be on the payroll next year. The others? Well, not sure what you want the Reds to do? Votto and Iglesias may have value in a trade but you need to keep some good players and Votto has full no-trade protection. Bailey and Mesoraco are not movable with their recent injury history. The Reds’ hands are tied.

  13. Pirates cannot expect to be in the post-season with such a terrible outfield.

    • The Bucos are facing a tough decision coming up next season regarding Cutch. He has a below average 96 OPS+ and a below replacement level -0.8 WAR in his age 29 season. In 2018, he will command a team option of $15MM or a $1MM buyout. His current contract has been very team friendly for the Bucos, but anything beyond 2017could be $$$ down the disposal.

      • It’s been a couple of years since McCutchen at the plate made me nervous. Right now he’s not even the toughest out or biggest threat in the Pirates lineup, let alone one of the top hitters in the league. I think if the Pirates are smart they’ll let him go, and he’ll find a supporting role on a good team somewhere. That happened fast though.

      • I would bet that the Pirates try to trade McCutcheon this winter. I’ve been watching this play out this year as I also get the Pirates games and watch some when the reds aren’t playing. McCutcheon has had a remarkable decline over the last 2 seasons. This year though the decline has been more noticeable.
        It won’t be a hard choice for the Pirates to trade McCutcheon. They have Polanco and Marte who are both really CF’s. And they have that monster in the making in Josh Bell. They also have a 1st round draft pick at AAA that is an OF, Austin Meadows. He stalled some at AAA this year after a great start at AA, but he is about ML ready.
        It is odd how 3 great NL Central OF have declined before their age 30 seasons. Two got traded. Milwaukee traded Carlos Gomez in full decline. The Reds traded a resurgent but now slumping Jay Bruce. The Pirates will trade McCutcheon and they should this winter instead of waiting until next year’s trade deadline. They need everyday AB’s for Josh Bell.

      • didn’t Cutch have a knee/ leg issue a couple of years back coming out of ST that he played thru? I’m wondering if that links up with the onset of his offensive fall off.

        • The knee injury qwas spring training/ early season 2015. The exact nature of it was never publicly revealed that I found except that it wasn’t “structural damage”. I found articles and quotes from ST 2016 where Cutch is saying it is good to have his legs back under him. Given the big drop off this season following on the incremental drop off in 2016, one has to wonder.

  14. The cash poor A’s can dump a contract. The Reds can too. “The Athletics recognized a major sunk cost on Sunday and finally decided to cut bait with Billy Butler. The 30-year-old has been a colossal disappointing since inking a three-year, $30 million contract prior to the 2015 season, slashing a paltry .258/.325/.394 with 19 homers and 96 RBI in 236 games. He’s still owed $10 million for the 2017 season, but the A’s are much better off just eating that money and seeing what they have in other options at the designated hitter spot over the final three weeks of the season.Some club will probably be willing to roll the dice on him next season, as he can be had for the veteran’s minimum while the A’s pay the rest of his salary, but his days of being a fantasy-relevant commodity are long gone.”

    • That is not all the A’s are doing. They are set to release 3B Danny Valencia and his slash of .289/.346/.458. He made $3.2M and he is a 3rd year arbitration eligible next year.
      Didn’t both of these players duke it out in a clubhouse skirmish last month?
      Several teams now have set a precedent by releasing players who are signed for 2017. The Reds should follow suit and begin for life after BP. If the Reds can afford to throw $7M down a rat hole for a 22 year old Cuban SS that hits .234 in a league of 18 year olds, then they can afford to release BP and eat the money owed to him. Look at it as a down payment on the re-build and the cost of opening a roster spot for Herrera or somebody else.

      • The Reds aren’t going to cut BP loose but they have to let Cozart go or trade him for a scrub to be named later. He’s 31 and hit .212 in August and .167 this month with only 1 hr! He can barely run….they need to move on already and free up a spot for Peraza!

      • Not necessarily arguing that it’s right or wrong to release BP but I just don’t see the Reds doing it… What the Reds need to do is trade him, assuming there is any market. They need to kick in whatever cash is needed to make it happen. That way, it doesn’t cost them BP’s full salary and they get a warm body in return.

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About Steve Mancuso

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky's Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve's thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.


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