Titanic Struggle Recap

The limit of enlightenment

A few games ago, Bryan Price’s handling of the Reds bullpen – pulling starter Brandon Finnegan in the third inning for Michael Lorenzen – triggered a tidal wave of acclaim (CBS Sports, Cincinnati Enquirer, FanGraphs, and here at Redleg Nation) directed toward the Reds manager. The basis for applauding Price was his apparent disregard of traditional baseball thinking, namely reverence for the Save statistic. Price announced an intention to put the best pitchers in the toughest situations and ignore the pursuit of individual statistical accomplishments.

“Don’t worry about saves, holds, etc,” Price had said. “Just help us shake hands after the game.”

Tonight, Price made exactly the opposite decision in managing the 5th inning and Scott Feldman, the 34-year-old starting pitcher. Feldman had thrown over 80 pitches through four innings, yet was allowed to bat with two runners on and two outs in a one-run game in the bottom of the 4th. Then Feldman was allowed to pitch the 5th. He walked the bases loaded with one out and Price visited the mound.

A thoroughly modern Bryan Price would have ignored the Win statistic and pulled his fading starter, who had at that point had thrown 100 pitches. Eight *eight* members of the bullpen fully rested, the obvious choice was bring in a better, fresher arm.

Instead, Price stuck with decades of managerial devotion to their starters’ attempts to qualify for a Win and left Feldman in. Dusty Baker would have been proud.

Apparently Price’s “etc.” didn’t include pitcher Wins.

Feldman induced a double play and the bullpen imploded in the 6th and 7th innings. But that the Reds and Price were lucky to get a ground ball hit at an infielder doesn’t matter. Price’s creaky decision making provided powerful evidence of the clear limit of his commitment to modern baseball thinking.

Cincinnati Reds 4  Milwaukee Brewers 10 || MLB || FG || Statcast

Scott Feldman gave up three runs, four hits and five walks in five innings. He struck out two. Feldman, of course, didn’t get the win.

Don’t ask me to explain the pitcher use in the next two innings. The two best arms in the Reds bullpen watched on as the Reds lost the lead in the 6th inning. Blake Wood and Wandy Peralta squandered the narrow margin. In the 7th, with the Reds now down three runs, Michael Lorenzen gave up four runs. Lorenzen’s pristine ERA of 0.00 ballooned to 5.14. The bullpen was overdue for a night like this.

Cody Reed continues to work his way out of the crowded “need to send him a message” dog house and into the starting rotation. Reed, wearing his new goggles, pitched two clean innings with 2 strikeouts. He’s started the season with 7 shutout innings and 7 strikeouts.

Zack Cozart, the hottest hitter in baseball coming into the game, put the Reds in front with a two-run homer in the second inning to deep left field. Eugenio Suarez, who had singled, scored ahead of Cozart. Joey Votto mashed a 422-foot homer off the batter’s eye against Milone in the third inning to make the score 3-0. Patrick Kivlehan, who got a start in right field, had two hits and was hit by a pitch.

No one was on base for the Votto home run because Billy Hamilton and Jose Peraza were in the midst of a brutal display of failure to get on base. Entering the game, the Reds #1 and #2 hitters had recorded 84 plate appearances with just one walk. Tonight, Hamilton and Peraza combined 0-for-8, including several 0ne-pitch at bats. They have identical .289 on-base percentages. If you’re in favor of good at bats that work the count, you won’t find them at the top of the Reds batting order.

Bryan Price passed up at least four opportunities to give Jesse Winker an at bat. Then with a rally kept alive in the 9th, Winker was sent up to hit for Billy Hamilton. He struck out in his first major league at bat.

The Cubs lost again today. They appear to be in free fall that can only be explained by the crushing pressure of trying to keep up with the Reds. Or something like that.

Valuable perspective from our esteemed leader:

48 thoughts on “The limit of enlightenment

    • Thom continues not to grasp the argument against the win stat. He says “give me the guy who wins!” Well, yeah!

      The argument is that it is a poor stat for evaluating a pitcher’s effectiveness. Can’t seem to understand that. Poor, Thom.

  1. I’m not ready to save Price is unfit nor unchanged after one game of questionable decision making. Could be that the decisions he made had nothing to do with winning or losing. Could be he was trying to mature the pitcher. Did you think about that before deciding that Price was an unchanged manager from last year?

    • Yeah, I thought about whether Price was trying to mature the 34-year-old washed up pitcher who won’t be with the Reds in a few months. I thought about it and decided it wasn’t likely. I also didn’t say Price was unfit or unchanged. Nice take, though.

      • While I agree I doubt the decision to leave Feldman in was due to trying to “mature” him, there could be a myriad of reasons why the decision was made besides “going for the win”. I have a hard time questioning someones motives for doing what they do, especially when I’m not directly involved in the situation. Seems … harsh. Wish we could talk about the decisions without assuming the omniscience of knowing motivations.

        • A wise statesman once said, “It’s always appropriate to question another man’s judgment, but never appropriate to question his motives because you simply don’t know his motives.”

          Now, this is baseball we’re talking, not matters of serious importance. But this statement really applies anywhere. You can’t advance your own argument (even a very good argument) when you get bogged down in personal assumptions.

          In this case, I would say that Price acted contrary to his earlier assertion that he wouldn’t worry about saves, holds, etc and that he just wanted his BP to help the team win. Steve correctly points out that this philosophy could extend to pulling starting pitchers when they’re in trouble and that keeping Feldman in would run in contrast to that approach. After all, they did have the entire BP well rested and at their disposal. And it doesn’t seem clear why Price kept Feldman in the game, much less, allowed him to bat with 2 on and 2 out in the 4th inning of a close game. No explanation was offered. And perhaps no one called Price into question after the game.

          Personally, I don’t think the proposed liberal use of the BP will hold up over the course of a season anyway. If the Reds keep pulling starters after 4 or less innings, those BP arms are going to fall off before the end of the season.

    • I’ll speculate that the bullpen management had more to do with trying to “mature” or test the bullpen guys not named Lorenzen or Iglesias and see if he had other arms that could handle high leverage situations. I’m not saying it was the right decision. But if that were the reason, given that this was only game #11 in a 162 game season with a lot of young pitchers both on the team and trying to make the majors, I would at least understand it. As far as keeping Feldman in? Maybe Price just “felt” he had another inning “in him” and happened to win at the roulette table for that one inning.

      • Both good points, Joel. Lorenzen and Iggy aren’t going to be able to pitch in every high leverage situation. Might as well test the other guys because they’ll be needed. It’s not as if the Reds were in a “must win” situation as you noted.

  2. Still mostly impressed with Price’s performance thus far this season, but the criticism above is certainly justified. Maybe Price didn’t burn “The Book,” he just tossed it behind the couch temporarily.

    • With the go ahead run at third and two outs in the 6th, I would have brought in Iglesias. That is where the game was on the line

      • The game is on the line in lots of places, seems silly to criticize the situation in the fifth since it actually worked. You cannot bring Iglesias for every high leverage situation in the middle of every game 1 run or tie game. Let alone he will only pitch in 70 games all season, wood has got to get that out, Kiernan has got to make that catch. Plus if you burn Iglesias in the 6th, you are right back at it in the next innings

  3. I love the adjectives. Joey Votto “smashed” his home run but Cozart only hit his. But I am loving Votto’s aggressive approach, so i am going with the “smash” myself.

    I agree, the pitching was due for a game like this, just wish it was against a better team. The team’s overall hitting is worrying me. And i would also like to see a little plate discipline from the top two.

  4. In this game, the 2017 reds looked like the 2016 first half reds. I know that it is only one game. Lets hope that the team confidence (and the bull pen) rebound tomorrow. Please, no 2 Win and 9 loss sequences coming up.

  5. Are you actually criticizing Price for making a move (or lack of a move) that worked instead of going with the guys who were shelled an inning earlier than when they were shelled?

    If one rigidly adheres to modern baseball thinking then doesn’t that limit progress and advancement? 15 years ago modern baseball thinking taught us that defense doesn’t matter and stolen bases are taboo….OBP is really all that maters, Then OBP became too expensive, defense and speed became such outliers that a team that was fast and could catch the ball was able to develop advantages. Modern baseball thinking evolves all the time.

    • Price has pretty much established the mantra this year that when he has a lead, he is going with his best and running for the door at full speed. Tonight with Lorenzen and Iglesias both full rested and capable of finishing out the game in tandem, he switched course and sent in the “B Team” instead.

      If Price would have brought Lorenzen into the game in the 6th to the same result he produced in the 7th, that’s life.However, giving Blake Wood and Wandy Peralta first shot at turning the game upside down is reversion to old form.

      • Didn’t see the game but am puzzled by Price’s decisions, not that that matters. I do take slight issue with the implied dismissal of Peralta, who has been very good. Actually, Wood has been ok, as well, hasn’t he?

        • Wood had issues which forced the 5 out save by Iglesias in Pittsburgh.

          Still, I was not so much degrading Wood and Peralta as pointing out that Price chose not to go with his best when he had a lead and needed 12 outs, which they could have gotten for him, to win the game.

    • Yes. Explicitly. Was that unclear? Maybe you missed this paragraph:

      Feldman induced a double play and the bullpen imploded in the 6th and 7th innings. But that the Reds and Price were lucky to get a ground ball hit at an infielder doesn’t matter. Price’s creaky decision making provided powerful evidence of the clear limit of his commitment to modern baseball thinking.

      Are you implying that decisions can’t be criticized if they work out?

      In this case, Price wasn’t adhering to the policy that **he** set up just a few days ago. Are you saying baseball has evolved since the day he put Lorenzen in for Finnegan in the 3rd inning.

      • Perhaps Price was trying to push Feldman. Perhaps Dick Williams “suggested” they should see how Wood and Perlata perform under pressure in case Lorenzen becomes a starter. Perhaps there were proprietary analytical reasons. Maybe he’s a bad manager. Maybe he had a concussion. Maybe his first dog was named Wandy.

        There are often reasons that a manager will deviate from modern baseball thinking….or any kind of thinking. We may not care about wins and saves, but the players do…..and more importantly their agents really care. Is it possible that Lorenzen’s agent has expressed his displeasure that his client is the most important reliever, yet will likely not have any relevant stats to assist at contract time? Extremely possible…..if not probable. Would that be an ongoing battle Williams wants to fight in what will likely be a 90 loss year? Probably not.

        • I feel…unpersuaded. If the Reds continue to use Lorenzen in high leverage and multiple inning appearances (and this assumes for the moment that Lorenzen remains in the BP), then this usage coupled with the team’s public statements eschewing the save and hold statistics will be determinative. Any agent worth his/her salt will be able to demonstrate that.

          Now, it’s possible that in arbitration the more traditional stats might be more relevant. But even then there is a growing body of factors and metrics available to arbitrators. By the time he reaches FA, I don’t think you’ll see the save as the holy metric that it once was.

          • Pre-arbitration, none of it matters as the Reds can just pay him whatever they want regardless of what their public pronouncements happen to be. If I’m Lorenzen’s agent, I don’t trust the current arbitration process to be able to adequately handle a true outlier.

            I agree with you that it’s evolving, but most arbitrators know very little about baseball and are very mindful of the precedent they are setting when a non closer is awarded closer money.

          • Agreed. Reds are in the driver’s seat pre-arbitration. It will be interesting to see how the choices they make now will affect their position later when it comes time to pay Lorenzen.

            I think Betances tried to test things when he went to arbitration earlier this year. He had a somewhat similar situation to Lorenzen. Not a closer, so no traditional numbers to back his request. I agree that arbitrators are beholden to precedent which is why things didn’t work out as well as Betances had hoped. There will have to be a steady, but slow, shift in decision making before players like Lorenzen get rewarded commensurately in arbitration.

  6. I don’t get sending Lorenzen into the game at -3 runs with only 9 offensive outs left. If Reed was at the top of the to be used tonight list that was the spot for him versus a purely mop up role.

    • I don’t get it either, unless it’s because he had Lorenzen warming up earlier.

  7. Mancuso you are the man (sometimes)! I loved your recap for tonight’s game! I wasn’t able to watch it but after reading this I feel like I know all I need to know.
    Thanks,

  8. I’ve been railing for a few years now against Price for letting pitchers hit just to try to wring an extra inning out of them — and yes, likely for trying to get them the win. And now we’re at back to back games.

  9. Interesting to see our old friend Chapman continue to torment the Cardinals. He ran his scoreless streak against St. Louis to 30 ¹/₃ innings in 30 appearances since the start of 2012.

  10. In the big picture, Feldman has only pitched 15 innings in 3 starts with a very high walk rate. He hasn’t been particularly bad but he is taxing the bullpen. He also is not doing anything at this point to create a market come July.

    • Arroyo has pitched only 10 innings in two starts. Finnegan only 9. Davis pithe seven in two starts. The entire rotation has struggled with efficiency so far, and it will affect the bullpen. Not that worried about Finnegan, but I am the others.

  11. Bottom line we have four losses 2 were starts by Feldman where he couldn’t get to sixth inning because of high walk rates and the other two by Arroyo whose fastball is about the same speed as Garrett’s change up but without location. And those are the two veteran “leaders” of the staff that is supposed to save the bullpen innings. Sat least it sounds as if Arroyo has enough sense to know that the end is near for him.

    • I’m with you, Scott. Those two are doing the opposite of what they were brought here to do; provide stability and eat innings (and perhaps provide wisdom to the younger staff). Maybe they are teaching the young guys some valuable lessons but at what cost? They’re taxing the BP, which is supposed to be relied upon when the young starters falter. If these two can’t get it together, then the Reds have to move on. I would give them each 2 more starts max at this point.

  12. We got lucky when Feldman got the double play in the fifth period.There were lots of questionable decisions on Price’s part beginning with why he let him hit with two on in the bottom of the 4th knowing at best he would pitch only one more inning.The pen was due to give some up but why not Lorenzen in the 5th or to begin the 6th.We praised Price when he jerked Finny last week but now he returns to his usual self.Lorenzen pitching down 3 runs at any time is a waste.Sure he could have gave up the lead just like Wood and Peralta but we will never know.One step forward and two steps back.Feldman and Bronson serve no purpose unless they can give us 6 or 7 innings and keep us in the game.Finally letting the game slip away while your two best relievers watch is just plain dumb and then to put one of them in after you go down 3 runs is even dumber.One step forward and two steps back

  13. I didn’t see anything in the short Price interview on Gameday that indicated he was trying to get Feldman a win. Watching the game, it seemed to me he put his trust in a veteran pitcher to get the job done. Was it risky…yes. Was it lucky it worked out…maybe so. Maybe it was a lesson to the younger pitchers on how to stay cool and get out of a jam. Now, why Wood vs. Lorenzen I dunno. With a one run game, I think I would have gone with the guy who’s been dominant and not the guy who, while good, is just as likely to be shakey. Maybe the outcome would have been the same. Most damage was done by hitters with 2 strikes and pitchers counts…bad pitch calling or bad execution??

  14. THOM! continues to be even worse than usual, barely even paying attention to the games even when they’re close/exciting and then occasionally offering his wonderful “insights”. To be fair, he was talking about baseball briefly in the 9th….when he went on a rant about the batter swinging at a 3-0 pitch with a big lead. His rant made no sense since the count was 3-1, and while ranting he missed another very good defensive play by Suarez.

  15. Feldman bad now in 2 of 3 starts

    Bronson bad in 2 of 2 starts

    We have taken a team who was hitting 210 or so and made them the 27 Yankees. Momentum from a starter is such a big deal

    What s the status of DeSclafani?

    I would rather be watching bad starts from Reed and Stephenson

    Don’t care that we invested millions in Feldman, I’d move him o the pen now. The reason we got him was to show leadership but Reed or Stephenson can both walk 5 guys in a start. I had no idea he could not control a running game

    Bryan Price loses his pitcher whisperer status I anointed him with just a few games ago. Hey if the team kept winning I would be on board but we have lost 2 in a row and dad gum it there needs to be change. Hope Winker gets a start today.

    Should Peraza and Billy have a mandatory first pitch take sign today’s?

    Lots of kids. Mesoraco coming back soon will help with leadership

  16. Feldman did not have it yesterday, but that happens. There were a few issues from yesterday’s game that distrurbed the Old Cossack. The first issue occurred in the 4th inning with the Reds leading 3-0. Feldman gave up a single and double to the 1st two hitters, leaving ruinners at 2B & 3B with 1B open and no outs.

    Broxton (.671 OPS and flied out in his 1st PA) was at the plate with Pina (.889 OPS and singled in his 1st PA) on deck. If Feldman had to pitch to one of those two hitters, the obvious choice s Broxton. He did and Feldman struch out Broxton leaving runners at 2B & 3B with 1B open and one out. That decision was a no brainer.

    Pina (.889 OPS and singled in his 1st PA) was at the plate with Arcia (.567 OPS and flied out in his 1st PA) was on deck followed by the pitcher. With 1B open and 1 out, the decision seemed equally obvious, issue Pina an IBB and face Arcia, a no-hit SS, with one out and the bases loaded. Price opted to let Feldman face Pina, who promptly doubled, plating 2 runs. The next two hitters, Arcia and the pitcher, equally promptly grounded out.

    Not issuing Pina an IBB to face the 8th and 9th hitters in the lineup with one out and bases loaded was simply a bone-head decision and that was completely on Price.

  17. Then came the bottom of the 4th inning that Steve mentioned. Kivlehan and Turner single with 2 outs, bringing Feldman to the plate. Feldman did not have it yesterday and had already thrown 82 pitches in the 1st 4 innings. The top of the Brew Crew lineup is coming up in the top of the 5th inning and the Reds had a one run lead. Why not pinch hit for Feldman? The Old Cossack’s argument with this decision is not simply based on letting Feldman hit, it is based on pulling Feldman out of the game and replacing him with a fresh pitcher whose role is to cover long outings when the starter struggles early.

    The Reds have 2 pitchers in the bullpen (Reed and Stephenson) who are there specifically to cover long outings when the starter struggles early. Both pitchers were fully rested. In fact Reed was passed over to start in place Rookie. This was exactly the situation these two pitchers are in the bullpen to cover, but neither was even considered. Instead, Price opted to eventually run through the bulk of the bullpen in a 10-3 loss rather than bring in Reed or Stephenson to fill the role Price has designated for them. That’s just a bone-head decision.

    • Regarding the decision to let Feldman bat in the 4th, the cumulative impact of all these short outings has to be taken into account. Tomorrow you’ve got Finnegan going, and he didn’t even get through 3 innings with a five run lead last time. (Stephenson is probably his “backup” today if throws 100 pitches in 4 innings or something.) Then you’re starting a rookie. I’m with you on walking Pina, and maybe with everyone who says Feldman shouldn’t have been allowed to finish the 5th once he got in trouble, but Price is having to manage a starting pitching staff where no one can be counted on for even 5 good innings on a given day. You don’t pinch hit in the 4th in that circumstance.

      • Exactly. Great points.

        You can’t manage a game in April like it’s Game 7 of the World Series. A manager has to be mindful of what ancilllary impact any move may have.

      • I hope Stephenson is his backup today, but that leaves Reed available yesterday when he was needed and ready. That’s two pitchers who are not even being used to prevent Price from going through the rest of his bullpen in those situations.

      • Actually, you can

        Plenty of pitchers at AAA to shuttle. Right now I like Adelman better tha Feldman

    • I can’t disagree with any of these comments…I would view reed and Stephenson as starters 4/5….But if the reds insist on arroyo/Feldman…..Then make them starters 6 and 7 and ready to go inning 3 when a starter fails…

Comments are closed.