2017 Reds / Titanic Struggle Recap

Titanic Struggle Recap: Opening Day Edition

Final R H E
Philadelphia Phillies (1-0) 4 10 0
Cincinnati Reds (0-1) 3 9 1
W: Hellickson (1-0) L: Feldman (0-1)
FanGraphs Win Probability | Box Score

The Good
–Baseball is back. Forget everything else for a moment. Baseball is back and this is a good thing. We’re going to have a lot of fun here at Redleg Nation over the next six-plus months.

–Scooter Gennett made his Reds debut in the bottom of the seventh. Smoked a line drive right at the first baseman, who tagged Tucker Barnhart off first. Hard luck double play.

Then, in the bottom of the ninth, with the Reds trailing 4-1, Gennett hit a two-run opposite field home run. It’s Scooter’s world, we’re just living in it.

–Adam Duvall had two hits, including a double. Jose Peraza went 2-4. Billy Hamilton tripled and drove in a run on a sacrifice fly. Tucker Barnhart singled, drew a walk, and threw a laser to second base to nail a runner trying to steal.

–Good work by the bullpen tonight: 4.1 innings of one-run relief. Blake Wood gave up that run, but it only run scored thanks to some unfortunate defense by Scott Schebler. It wasn’t ruled an error (and it wasn’t the easiest play to make), but Schebler let a line drive skip past him in the sixth for a triple by Phillie pitcher Jeremy Hellickson. Philadelphia’s final run crossed the plate, and it was an important one, as it was the difference.

–Michael Lorenzen and Raisel Iglesias were bringing it, each throwing in the high-90s on the radar gun. Each pitched a scoreless inning.

–Barrett Astin made his major league debut in the fifth inning, and manager Bryan Price didn’t wait long to throw Astin to the wolves. With the Reds down 3-1, Astin entered with runners on first and second with two outs. He induced a ground ball, but Zack Cozart made an error to load the bases. No sweat; Astin just threw up another ground ball, inning over.

Nice work by the kid.

The Bad
–Scott Feldman got the Opening Day start in his Reds debut, and the boos began raining down on him early thanks to a rough first inning. Feldman allowed a home run to the leadoff hitter, and when the inning was over, the Phillies had scored two runs on four hits. Second inning, second homer.

Feldman then settled down a bit, until the fifth, when the Phillies lineup got a chance to hit against him for the third time. After a double and a walk, Price finally pulled the plug, bringing on Astin (see above) who quelled the rally and kept Feldman’s final line from looking even worse than it was.

In 4.2 innings, Feldman allowed three hits on seven hits and two walks.

–The Reds left seven runners on base. Five of those came in the third and fourth innings, when the Reds loaded the bases twice, yet came away with only one run.

–Rough game for Joey Votto, as the curse of Jeremy Hellickson continues. Votto was 0-4 and really didn’t make good contact all day. After his eighth-inning strikeout, Votto abused some equipment and said a naughty word in the dugout.

Not-So-Random Thoughts
–Largest regular-season crowd in Great American Ballpark history. You can tell Reds fans are excited! (Or something like that.)

–Welcome back to Cincinnati, Scooter Gennett!

–In the top of the seventh, we saw the first intentional walk under the new rule that doesn’t require the pitcher to throw an actual pitch. Drew Storen had a 2-0 count on Michael Saunders when Price ordered up the intentional pass. As Saunders trotted to first, everyone — including Thom Brennaman on the television broadcast — seemed confused. I was confused, too.

Probably shortened the game by at least seven seconds, though!

–Joey Votto will be fine.

–For an innings-eater, Scott Feldman sure didn’t eat very many innings. It was interesting to see how Bryan Price used his bullpen in the absence of a long outing by the starter in the opener. Specifically, we saw Storen in the 7th, Lorenzen in the 8th, and Iglesias in the 9th. Does that show us anything about Price’s mindset when it comes to these guys? Who knows, but it bears watching.

–Astin had never pitched above AA until today. Not a bad debut.

–Up next: Brandon Finnegan will face the Phillies on Wednesday night.

76 thoughts on “Titanic Struggle Recap: Opening Day Edition

  1. Did anyone else see what I thought I saw in the eighth inning? When Joey Votto was batting, Neris came right after him, giving him pitches to swing at. Then when Duvall came up next, Neris was bouncing the ball across the plate or missing badly as if he wanted nothing to do with Duvall.

    • He could have been dialed in focus-wise on Votto and then lost it for Duvall. Who knows?

      That said, Joey might take some time to find his wallet. It’s still just one game, but Joey’s spring was about the opposite of last year where he was on fire.

        • He wasn’t credited with an infield pop-up last year. I think that might be what you are thinking. Which is weird, because he had one. I remember it vividly.

          I think because this one caused the 3Bman to run a long way and drift deeper, they won’t count it as an infield pop-up.

  2. Key stat of the day:

    On opening day, before a packed stadium, at home, against the lowly Phils, our Redlegs go 1 for 8 with RISP. That disappointing execution seems, to me, to stem from a chronic lack of confidence. A team afflicted with an en masse case of situational “yips”.

    Not-quite-there offense + poor starting pitching = worst Reds season in many years, possibly ever. 100 losses is not out of the question, especially since Bryan Price will see the handwriting on the wall and start to mentally check-out of his job shortly after the All-Star Break.

    I know this is only opening day. And I know several aspects of the team will improve a little over the season. But I also know that there will be injuries, a Cozart trade, etc. I hate to always be the Debbie Downer of Redleg Nation, but I think this is just being realistic.

    I wish it wasn’t the case, but it is. The Reds will probably have the worst record in the league this year.

      • You’re right. But there’s no indication that things will get any better. I don’t have confidence that we’ll see a healthy Bailey or Mesoraco to come in and save the day. Healthwise, both of them are like used cars that keep having problems. (Which is a shame, because I really enjoyed watching both of them.)

        This is a situation where, theoretically, the Reds had every chance. A piss-poor opponent (picked by Sporting News to be last in the NL East), a home game, big crowd, early in the season, and they STILL flubbed it.

        Based on 5+ years of watching this team, I think today’s performance will be the rule rather than example. I hope I’m wrong.

        • What…5+ years? I kid; love lighten up Francis. Would have loved to see a win and it will be a year of growing pains, but there is no chance we lose more games than we did last year.

    • So when the Reds don’t lose 100 games and the pitchers end up being around league average what will you say?

    • They won last year on Opening Day and sucked so your projection makes zero sense

      • Sure it does. They sucked last year. They’ll suck this year. Only they’ll suck a little *worse* this year. Again, I hope I’m wrong.

        Obviously, one game does not a season make. But this isn’t a knee-jerk ragefest after one loss. It’s about how they played today and how the problems from this game are the same problems we’ve seen in the past. It’s about recent history (last year they lost 94 games) and about how there’s no signs of things getting better this year.

    • I have been Reds fan since 1961. I am very pessimistic about the future of this organization. Feldman is our ace- that about says it all. What a return for all the trades of star players.
      I know people want to think that the Reds will be good in 2018 or 2019. Don’t count on it. This is a bad team and a bad organization at the present. Jocketty was a disaster and the jury is out on Williams. I see lots of losing seasons in front of the Reds. This year the team will probably lose 90-95 games. Bad pitching will demoralize the hitters.

      • Feldman isn’t the ace. Nobody is pretending he is. He was just the healthiest veteran on Opening Day. No reason to put any more pressure than necessary on the young arms. If the organization could have predicted that bailey and disco would be hurt, they probably would have planned accordingly. Injuries happen. This team has a lot of young, exciting talent. Won’t necessarily materialize into wins every day, but they’ll be fun to watch if you want to look on the bright side.

        • A reason I can think of to put pressure on *one* (not all) of the young arms is to provide that player the experience. It would give the Reds a pitcher who had experience starting a game on Opening Day going forward, which they don’t have now. Big missed opportunity in my opinion.

          • Besides, Finnegan pitched in the College World Series and the MLB World Series in the same year as a very wet behind the ears kid. I think he could have coped with Reds’ Opening Day pressures. This coming from me, who’s not even sure if he’s really going to be a very good starter. Just don’t buy the “pressure” argument for not starting him.

        • Well, then, it was stupid to have Feldman pitch on opening day if he is not the “ace.” And just so you understand I realize Feldman is not a true ace. That is my point.

    • I think you underestimate the gravity of the situation. The Reds will not win a single game this year. It’s obvious, after the opener.

      • They are on pace to go 0-162. Things are very grave.

        When they won on opening day last year there was a chorus of ” they could contend for the wild card.”

        • It wasn’t so much that opening day win but after they went 3-0 to start the season, I recall a lot of people saying that very thing. Good call Chuck.

    • Votto went 0-4. Does that mean his true talent level is a .000 AVG? No, it doesn’t.

      So you shouldn’t think 1-8 with RISP means ANYTHING AT ALL. It’s completely useless to even give a 2nd thought to.

      • He looked uncomfortable and awkward just like he did last year at the beginning of the year. That’s why I’m a bit worried. He is still having serious issues with hard stuff inside and everyone in the league knows it. Whatever adjustment he made last season will need to be refined or refigured. I love Joey Votto and think he’ll get himself sorted but the Reds need him to figure it out sooner rather than later.

    • My dad says 100 losses too. I don’t think so. I simulated the season w/ my projections for the Reds and ZiPS projections for everyone else 100 times in Diamond Mind. The Reds managed to lose 100 or more 5 times. They won 90 once. Their average loss total was 94. Not out of the question they’ll lose 100 but I doubt it.

    • His last at-bat was ugly, but I think today was a microcosm of what we can expect from Peraza. He made good contact, played pretty good defense, an ugly at-bat because he swings at too many pitches outside the zone.

      I think he’s going to be fun to watch this year.

      • I am as well. If Gennett keeps up his hitting, the Reds will have a dilemma.

        • He probably won’t, so the Reds probably won’t until/unless Herrera gets healthy.

  3. Well, the Redlegs won’t go undefeated this year. I don’t really see how they can be worse than last year. I mean, the pitching can be bad – and still be much better than last years gasoline-inducing staff. I think the ceiling is .500 – and that seems amazingly unrealistic given we run our Scott Feldman on Opening Day. But I do think this crew has some interesting talent.

  4. I know it’s a titanic struggle, but with a team of new faces and some optimism, maybe we can make a more optimistic title for the recap. I get all sad when I see Titanic Struggle. Maybe blooper(real) or Re-Boot-Build, both seem apt. Anyway, I anticipated Feldman would be just about here for opening day. Still feel we shoulda let one of the young guns get the start, but today is past, tomorrow is coming, and my hopes are Brandon continues from last year en route to a sound win on Wednesday. Go Redlegs.

  5. Just one game but I believe that other than one bunt attempt, Billy Hamilton hit the ball in the air every PA. Time to watch Major League, Billy.

    • Not correct Michael, but your point is valid. Hamilton rolled over a pitch and grounded out weakly in the 1st inning after fouling off a fly ball out of play down the 1st base line. I did not see anything positive in his plate approach during spring training or today to give hope to results at the plate to mirror his 2nd half performance from last season.

      • His triple looked like a line drive to me. If a mortal had hit the ball, it still would have been a legit double. He’s got things to prove, no doubt, but learning curves are seldom smooth upward arcs, and I’m not pessimistic.

  6. Barry Larkin was dreadful in April and had some horrific West coast road trips with throwing errors. Joey Votto apparently needs 80 at bats and warm weather to get going. Perhaps since no one ever plays competitive baseball outside in Canada in April…..Joey never got used to April baseball….He’s still in hibernation.

    • For his career, Joey Votto, has a slash line of .300/.417/.509 during March/April, with a 150 wRC+.

      I guess it is his second lowest performing month of his career. He is absolutely dismal in the month of June, putting up a pathetic 149 wRC+. Sad!

      One year does not constitute a trend.

      • This was not meant to be an analytical comment….,only to poke fun at Joey who had an un-Joey like day. But, since you did….Joey has had lots of Un- Joey likes in April and May over the last 2 baseball seasons….There is no question that the splits on Joey Votto the last 2 years between the first half and the second half are a “trend”. His “cold weather….non-summer….first 175 Canadian like weather at bats” in the months of April and May the last 3 years have been far below his career averages. Throw in his injury in 2014 May and his stats for his first 175 at bats the last 3 are not even pedestrian….but indeed poor. That is a trend and an aberration from the Joey Votto we all know and love.

        • Oh, so we’re now pushing things out to May? Maybe we can keep moving them goal posts?

          He had 186 wRC+ in the March/April of 2015. His May 2015 was kind of weak (for Joey), but a 98 wRC+ is hardly Barry Larkin-start-the-season slow. When your star player’s slump is becoming a league average hitter, you know you have an elite player.

  7. The team forgot the “get ’em in” part of the equation today.

    Scooter smoked the ball both ABs. I didn’t think the oppo had a chance in April. May be a GABP special, but he does give us some power off the bench.

    Iglesias seems to fool himself sometimes with the constant changes in his arm angles and his timing. Hopefully he’s just finding what makes him comfortable. His stuff is electric and he really doesn’t need to be sneaky. Repeatable motion probably suits him better.

    I’m very excited about Peraza, and his little league helmet.

    Billy is fast.

    Trying to ole’ a sliding catch is rarely a good idea.

    It will be interesting to follow the Philly bullpen this year. They look solid.

    Yay, baseball

    Was confused yesterday when I was listening to the radio to a Cubs/Cardinals game. They claimed it was opening day. Nonsense, I say. Its not opening day until after the Findlay Market Parade……and it was Cubs/Cards…….eeeewwww.

  8. It always seems like the Reds (at least since 2010) have winning season when they lose OD and not when they win first game. Only twice has this pattern been wrong in last 7 seasons – 2012 with 97 wins and OD win and 2014 with 76 wins and OD loss. 2012 was of course an amazing season for Reds and 2014 was last year the Reds seemed to be competitive before rebuild.

    So maybe Reds have a good season in 2017? I’ll stick with my 81-81 prediction.

    Also, interesting site for information on Opening Day results since 1882:
    http://www.baseball-almanac.com/opening_day/odschedule.php?t=CN5

  9. Also, just noticed that Feldman is going to supposedly start before Arroyo’s first start – so maybe he will only be 4th starter going forward?

  10. Question for those who saw the game- Was Feldman off today somehow or is this who he is now?

    • This is Feldman. He gave up 3 runs in 4.2 innings and the Phanatic hitters were barrelling up on the ball. As Chad mentioned, the damage was done early and his 3rd time through the lineup is not going to be pretty. Feldman may settle in as a 5-6 inning pitcher, but will certainly have outings where he simply struggles.

    • I know little about Feldman and often find myself defending questionable pitchers, but he looked better when he settled down and kept the ball down. Chris Welch said that he has to do that to be effective, and the game seemed to bear that out. He’s unlikely to be great, but I wouldn’t draw a lot of conclusions after a rainy and cool first start of the season.

  11. After two or three bad outings there’s no meaning in keeping him in the rotation, do not repeat the Alfredo Simon fiasco.

  12. We have to remember Peraza is still only 22 years old, he’s going to be good, possibly very, very good. Other worldly good? Of course not, but definitely the potential to be an all star. Maybe a perennial all star. There’s a reason he was ranked the number 1 prospect in the braves organization a few years ago.

  13. I can take a loss. No problem. Can’t use the bullpen like that, though. Even in the same game, what if we pull even and we go into extra innings? One of those 17 inning affairs? Granted, you don’t plan for each game in doing that. However, it’s not like we were being blasted 22-0 after 3 innings and everyone just needed to get a little work in.

    When our starting pitcher of opening day is a pitcher of the quality of Feldman, who we traded for to shore up the bullpen, who doesn’t have a great reputation at being a phenom reliever, you know our starting pitching is in trouble. And, honestly, this isn’t anything that Homer and Desco is going to be able to save. I do believe we will have the offense (from somewhere; I don’t know where it will come from, but I believe it will be there, enough of it). And, I don’t believe our bullpen can get much worse. But, when your one player who touches the ball on every defensive play, the pitcher is “that good” (as in not very good), then you know the starting pitching is going to be this team’s Achilles heel. The youngsters are going to have to step up for this team to be good. The question is, when will that season come? Will they still be here before we decide to unload them and either go get some arms or bring up the next crop?

    • They traded for Feldman? Are you sure about that? Seems they signed him as an FA with the original purpose of using him as a long man in the BP. Of course, after Disco and Bailey went down that he was shifted to the rotation and opening day starter.

      We can certainly debate whether he should have been the OD starter v.s. someone else. Personally, I don’t think Feldman will last the season, barring any more injuries. There are plenty of young guys who will be auditioned.

    • “Can’t use the bullpen like that, though.”

      Chad also alluded to a possible issue related to bullpen usage based on opening day. The Old Cossack opts to give Price a one game pass for the bullpen usage today. Everyone in the bullpen was rested and ready with an off day scheduled for today. The entire bullpen needed work so Price probably managed the situation quite effectively as long as this was simply a one game plan for opening day and not a long term trend, but as Chad mentioned, “…it bears watching.”

      • I’m glad Price used the bullpen exactly like that. With an off day today it was important to get as many of the frontline pitchers an inning of work as possible. Being behind by three runs gave the Reds less than a couple percent chance of comeback. Saving relievers for that extremely rare circumstance is how Dusty Baker would have mismanaged the bullpen. What if the game had gone 17 innings? Besides, using the best pitchers to hold the lead at 3 runs almost paid off!

      • In case it was unclear, what I intended to say was that the order of usage bears watching. In other words, does Price consider the bullpen heirarchy to be Iglesias, Lorenzen, Storen. I just assumed he’d have Storen in the traditional “closer” role early in the year.

        • I think that may have been his idea going in but Storen’s poor performance and lack of velocity in ST may have changed his mind.

    • Of course the youngsters have to step up. That’s what happens when you rebuild your pitching staff. Feldman isn’t representative of the staff as a whole, and he probably didn’t get the start because Price thinks he’s the ace. Price probably didn’t want to put one of the kids in that relatively high pressure situation, and we can all disagree with him if we like.

  14. I hadn’t seen Feldman before (at least, not to,pay attention to), but for a guy with average “stuff” who supposedly limits damage by limiting walks and home runs I’d say he’s in trouble already. Not horrible, but there’s no reason to be giving him starts with so many more promising young arms in development. I’d much rather see Robert Stephenson working on his control, or Sal Romano figuring out how to handle adversity, or… almost anyone else. Very disappointing. Otherwise baseball,is back and the Reds are better than the 2016 version. I’m ready. And can I just say I hate that the day after Opening Day is always an off day? More baseball please!

  15. Small sample but I wonder if Lorenzen has been working on the curveball over the offseason. Threw a couple good ones and one that was way off. If he can control that pitch, he’s going to be dominant. Cutter was fooling people.

  16. Except for the loss, yesterday’s game was pretty enjoyable in a season portending huge struggles. The pitching was OK, not great but OK. We obviously did not have an ace on the mound, but the bullpen was solid and deep. That is such an enormously marked improvement from last season, that I can’t help but feel encouraged for the 2017 season.

    The hitting had issues, but there were some good individual performances. I don’t want to see Hamilton hit another sac fly for the rest of his career with the Reds, especially with the bases loaded. Votto looked like he is still in spring training mode, but he’s all about the process rather than the results. Votto will be Votto soon enough. Duvall, Schebler, Peraza and Barnhart had good games at the plate with Gennett contributing as a LH hitter off the bench.

    I may have to just get used to Peraza’s plate approach and adjust my expectations for Peraza as a top of the order hitter. A .350 OBP is a .350 OBP even if Peraza is not working the count and making the pitcher throw strikes. If Peraza can consistently smack line drives through and over the infield, his bat will play.

    I really don’t want to see Hamilton bunting again until he can consistently barrel up the ball with line drives and move the infielders back. I’m already running out of patience with Hamilton’s propensity to hit fly balls and weak grounders this season, even after just one game.

    • “I really don’t want to see Hamilton bunting again until he can consistently barrel up the ball with line drives and move the infielders back. I’m already running out of patience with Hamilton’s propensity to hit fly balls and weak grounders this season, even after just one game.”

      That sums it up very nicely for me too.

  17. There’s more to Opening Day than just the game. There’s the Opening Day parade. My granddaughter loved all of the fire trucks! Opening Day in Cincy is still the best holiday ever (maybe excepting Bockfest). All of the Reds fans wearing their Cincy gear who never made it to the ballpark but watched the game in the bars! Cincy is simply a great baseball town!

  18. Feldman should get another shot as a starter, but if he is as ineffective as his first start, he should immediately be sent to the bullpen. Let the kids start. How about batting Votto down in the lineup – six or seven hole – until he starts hitting like J V, than move him to the two hole in the lineup. If Cozart gets traded, does that mean Paraza moves to short and Scooter plays second until Herrara is deemed ready? I love the new bullpen, but we need to find starters who can go six plus innings.

    • II know Disco and Bailey can give six to seven innings when healthy, and I’m still optimistic that both will be starting before the all star break.

    • I can’t think of a finer idea than to proactively give their best hitter fewer at bats because he had a rough start a year ago. A rough start in which he was hitting the ball extremely well and endured a historically awful BABIP.

      What a great message that sends to your best player.

  19. On Schebler’s sliding attempt yesterday, he did indeed misplay that ball into a triple. That said, had he played it more traditionally, I think that ball falls in front of him and the run scores anyway. I don’t think he cost the Reds a run there but he could have cost them an additional run had the pitcher ended up scoring.

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