Titanic Struggle Recap

Sending messages

If you Google “retires 19 in a row” and “Reds” you’ll find the stories reporting on Brandon Finnegan and the second game of the season. Finnegan struggled in the first inning on April 5, giving up a walk and a hit, throwing 25 pitches. After that, the Reds lefty retired every other batter he faced, striking out 9 Phillies, throwing 88 pitches in 7 innings.

Brandon Finnegan wasn’t given the opportunity to perform a similar Houdini act today. He walked the first two batters he faced on 9 pitches. Before the inning ended, he’d walked another and unleashed a wild pitch. Finnegan threw but 10 strikes in his 26 pitches. Between today’s inning and Finnegan’s short second start of the season, Bryan Price had seen enough. He summoned Robert Stephenson from the bullpen to pitch the 2nd.

The Reds later announced Finnegan left the game due to a “strained left lat muscle.” Yet several signs point to Finnegan being yanked on merit, rather than injury. He received no visit from a trainer (or pitching coach) on the mound and afterward the Reds pitcher sat by himself in the dugout, without medical attention. Price had Stephenson warming up while Finnegan was still pitching.

The Reds are sending messages to Brandon Finnegan like a teenager on a smartphone. The lightning-quick hook today by Bryan Price was one. Opening Day was another. As a returning pitcher, Finnegan would have been the logical choice to pitch on April 3 and he didn’t get the assignment. The organization is desperately trying to communicate to the young lefty that he needs to focus more on the mound and that his role on the team shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Maybe Finnegan was hurt. Maybe Bryan Price was making a point. Whether he has a strained left lat or a “strained left lat” don’t be surprised if Finnegan hits the DL leading to a start for Cody Reed or Robert Stephenson. The DL is 10 days now, not 15, so Finnegan would miss one start.

Cincinnati Reds 7  Milwaukee Brewers 5 || MLB || FG || Statcast

When Bryan Price isn’t coddling veteran pitchers, he’s doing interesting things with the pitching staff.

Robert Stephenson was effective for his three innings, mixing 95+ mph fastballs with a sharp curveball. Stephenson struck out five, including two key whiffs of Keon Broxton and Jett Bandy in 3rd inning with two runners on. Stephenson struck out Jonathan Villar with a changeup. He only walked one Brewer hitter, largely correcting his control issue. One way or another, Stephenson is coming to a starting rotation near you.

Price then used the best pitcher in the bullpen, Raisel Iglesias, in the 4th inning, with the score still tied. Iglesias pitched two innings, striking out two and walking one. Iglesias doubled in his one at bat. Great idea using Iglesias in this situation.

Tony Cingrani and Drew Storen handled the 7th and 8th before giving way to Michael Lorenzen to close out the game in the 9th.

The meat of the lineup delivered offense today. Zack Cozart barreled another ball to deep left center, tying the game at 2-2 with his third triple of the season. Cozart drove in Eugenio Suarez who had doubled. He added another hit and walk. Cozart is batting .500 with a 12.3% walk rate.

Scoot Scoot Scooter Gennett exacted a bit of revenge on his former club by singling in Eugenio Suarez in the 6th inning to tie the game 4-4. In the 7th, Gennett doubled to right field, knocking in Joey Votto.

Scott Schebler capped off a great 11-pitch at bat in the 2nd inning, slamming his third home run of the year. It’s pointless to hope the radio broadcast will quit evaluating players based solely on batting average, but the rest of us can avoid that mistake.  Schebler has contributed mightily to the offense with walks (12.5%) and power (.324 ISO). Those are elite numbers. Schebler walked in his next at bat and singled later in the game.

Jesse Winker hit a two-run bloop double to left field putting the Reds ahead 6-4 in the 6th inning. It was Winker’s first major league hit.

Maybe Bryan Price ought to consider sending a message to his lead-off hitters about looking to walk. Billy Hamilton and Jose Peraza continue to struggle getting on base. Their on-base percentages are .260 (Hamilton) and .255 (Peraza). The players have combined for 1 walk in 102 plate appearances this year. Peraza has 118 PA (regular season plus spring training) with no walks. How about moving Zack Cozart and Eugenio Suarez to the top of the lineup?

Mark Sheldon says Devin Mesoraco might join the Reds next week if he is able to catch back-to-back on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Reds are 8-4 and will remain in first place tomorrow.

77 thoughts on “Sending messages

  1. Nice write-up Steve and interesting speculation about Finnegan. I love the idea of moving Suarez and Cozart to the top of the order to send a little message to the current hackers. Maybe giving Billy the sac bunt sign after Raisel’s double was a message—or it could just be that Brian Price still loves the stupid bunt.

    Go Reds! Salvage the series tomorrow behind Big Sal.

    • It was a tie game, I didn’t mind the bunt there. Peraza, Votto (IBB), and Schebler had a chance to get him in.

    • I heard that apparently Hamilton didn’t have the bunt sign in that one. He was told he could swing away or bunt. He apparently chose to lay one down.

      • I don’t even view a B-Ham sac bunt as a true sac bunt. Plus, the run expectancy tables are close enough that his sac bunting isn’t giving up the same % of outs as he average bunter, and his hitting is so below average that maybe it does make some sense.

        • This was sort of my thought. Although, he shouldn’t square early to bunt like he did. He needs to try and bunt for a base hit, at least the first attempt. IMO.

  2. Great recap! I even put it on my Facebook feed.

    That said, the pregame write up was good too.

    Concerning Mr. Winker, I would not have started him in either game. Give him just a taste and make sure he knows he has to earn his time up here if he wants more. After all, he didn’t earned a starting spot in spring training now did he?

    The discussion concerning the general manager and the manager seem to almost get heated. Both sides made some good points, but I think Williams and Price we’re on the same page about not starting Winker.

    The Homeplate umpire, I think, called a great game.

    And finally, if the ball continues to carry the way it is right now into the summer, we’re going to see a lot of records broken!

    • Ball was flying out to LLCF. I wish a young version of me could take BP at GABP with the ball carrying like that.

    • Do you really believe that Winker is not on the roster because he did not have a good spring training?

      The Reds obviously had no intention of starting Winker while up, they started a player that has never played OF before that was just picked up the week prior to the start of the season.

    • A .390+ OBP in AAA as a 22/23 yr old is the only “earning” Winker will ever need to do. And he’s done it.

      • Exactly, and to illustrate the value that provides to the Reds, below is Zips OBP projections for some key Reds players for 2017. Note league average OBP is about .320. No wonder we can’t find a leadoff hitter.

        Reds 2017 Zips OBP Projections

        Name OBP
        Joey Votto .421
        Jesse Winker .358
        Devin Mesoraco .318
        Tucker Barnhart .316
        Scott Schebler .314
        Eugenio Suarez .314
        Jose Peraza .312
        Scooter Gennett .311
        Dilson Herrera .311
        Tony Renda .309
        Billy Hamilton .304
        Zack Cozart .298
        Adam Duvall .297

  3. I think the Scheb is capable of putting up some major numbers once some of those hot shots start missing gloves.

  4. I’m pretty sure that the other teams are told under no circumstances should you walk Billy Hamilton. I don’t know how you “try” to walk if they aren’t throwing you balls. He did lead off the game with with a 9 pitch AB and hit the ball sharply twice to go along with his sac bunt. Peraza is a little different, you don’t have to throw him strikes

    • I was thinking that Hamilton seemed to be swinging at his share of pitches outside the zone too though and according to Fangraphs, he is. He’s swinging at a career high 33.7% of pitches outside the zone. That’s over 2% more higher than he did in his rookie year and almost 6% higher than his career rate. The MLB average is 29%. Billy is expanding the zone and getting himself out.

  5. Went to the game with my 5 and 3 year old. Both had been before but wanted to start an opening day tradition with them and the kids variety was the trial ballon. The reds red carpet was great and a lot of the younger players – noted Stephenson, Garrett, and Peraza were out there for 20 minutes signing stuff for kids.

    Made it through 4 innings.

    Observations: dippin dots continue to be a rip off, Stephenson looked like an MLB starter for the first time ever and spending an inning standing around while your kids play on a nicer version of the play set they have at home for $30 tickets is maddening.

    • Classic…
      The Reds are 1-0 when you do this on Kids Opening Day. So we are all counting on you to continue the tradition.

    • You are not alone. One of my sons will sit with me to watch the game and enjoy it. My other son and take three innings before he needs to wander around and end up down in that playground area

      The plus is that they are at a ballpark and they are having a good time. The baseball will take care of itself. Of course the most maddening part is you’re not watching the game live you’re at the ballpark watching it on TV

    • Very cool to hear the young guys were out there for so long signing. That’s great to see. The kids will remember that stuff and hopefully they turn into baseball fans for life.

      Yes, Dippin’ Dots are a complete rip.Get the helmet sundae if the kiddos want ice cream 🙂

  6. I think you are on to something with Finnegan’s “injury” They could have faked it just to give Bob Steve all the warm up time he needed.

    If it is a real injury, it probably provides a little bit of job security to Bronson Arroyo, unfortunately.

    • Possible Finnigan didn’t even say anything about the injury until later. I mean, especially considering that Price pulled him probably without knowing for sure he was hurt. Of course, for all we know he was hurting after his last start and Price saw all he needed to see in the 1st to know he was still hurting.

      • The “fix” seemed to be in during Price’s postgame on Fox. He said something vague about Finnegan experiencing a slight problem during or after his last start but that it seemed to have cleared up until it returned today while he was on the mound.

        But he was forthright in saying Finnegan would be “out awhile” and mentioning depth at AAA as well as the obvious guys, Reed and Stephenson.

  7. We need Finnegan! He needs to work out his issues because he’s got a live arm and that changeup was really progressing last year. He needs to focus and throw quality strikes!

    Thats the first time I’ve seen Winker and he looks like he needs to find the weight room! He’s a little soft and that could explain why he doesn’t have alot of power yet! Look at the muscle that Iglesias and Lorenzen have put on! I’ve been harping on Billy for 3 years now with the same complaint!! It makes a difference and the extra weight really helps as the long season grinds you down!

    Good team win though….Suarez is smoking baseballs in every direction! He looks stronger then we came to the Reds as well. They’re professional athletes for Gods sakes!! No reason whatsoever that Billy should still weigh 165 or whatever? They need to bat him 9th like I’ve said all along and make him earn leadoff with a month of .330+ obp! They could bat Schebler leadoff vs righties and Cozart 2nd if need be?

    • Winker had plenty of power in the lower minors. He had two wrist injuries which sapped his power. And his approach is geared towards line drives and spraying. He’ll hit for some power, eventually.

  8. IT WAS REPORTED ON THE RADIO BROADCAST that Finnagan has t strained or torn lat. Looks like the 60 day d l. Sorry for the caps. L.

  9. MLB.com reporting that Finnegan has a strained left shoulder (not lat). Which would you rather have?

  10. Hmmmm…… Tim Adleman was the Bats scheduled starter tonight, but Nick Routt started the game for the Bats in his place. Maybe looking like Finnegan goes to the DL, Winker back to Louisville, and Adleman and Astin get brought up to the Reds to shore up the bullpen, with I’m guessing Reed taking Finnegan’s rotation spot.

    • Do they need two moves for Sunday? Just DL Finnegan for Romano. They have the off day Monday; so, why make the bullpen move now? Finnegan’s spot won’t be up till Saturday; so, they should be able to use Reed and Stephenson out of the pen thru Wednesday as long as they keep them to a couple of innings. The only hitch would be if Reed isn’t ready to go Sunday after pitching 2 innings on Friday.

      • It appears that you are correct that they could probably handle the game Sunday without making a bullpen move. If Reed or Stephenson moves into Finnegan’s rotation slot, I’d be surprised if they threw them again out of the bullpen before their start. That probably still leaves leaves Wood, Peralta, Cingrani, Storen, and probably Iglesias (two innings on Sat. but with only 19 pitches) available for Sunday. So the thing is, this is the Reds, and they’ve already posted the Winker option to AAA on Saturday, so I guess they could simply recall Romano today in his place and let the bullpen move and the Finnegan move to the DL wait until later. But then it seems a little odd to pull Adleman from his Sat. start altogether if he is coming up and not needed in the pen until Tues at the earliest. They could have let him start and pulled him after 2 IP or so to get his work in, but since they yanked him, it would make think that they wanted him available for Sunday. Who knows, it’s the Reds.

    • Price said he had it before his start today when interviewed. Have no idea what Mancuso’s agenda here is.

      • I was going to say you had no idea what you were talking about then I realized you said it yourself. Keep checking under the bed for hidden agendas, though. 🙂

      • Makes you wonder why the heck Price, Williams, and Jenkins let him start today.

        • I was kind of thinking the same thing when I read that. They did say that he felt it was better. Possibly he was was thinking he could pitch through it, but, it was clearly bothering him. That first inning would have been a big inning if not for Braun free swinging and stupid base running by the Brewers getting picked off at second

  11. I thank you for the last paragraph about Hamilton and Peraza but I didn’t much care for your blind eye about Brian Price he is a moron! He has 2 guys that are young and supposedly the future of this team the FO made an idiotic trade to get Peraza playing time! We are 12 games into the season they have 98 AB’s between them and 1 walk and they are still 1-2 in the order! I get that he has to play them but D–n hit them 8 and 9 in the order! This is Hamilton’s 4th season at this level and he still has that big old drop the head looping swing of a power hitter! Peraza may just be overmatched but his history is if it leaves the pitchers hand it is a strike! Their speed is next to useless walking back to the dugout, Hamilton makes up a little bit for the ground he covers! The truth of the matter is they have to play right now but his job as a manager is to give his team a chance to win that doesn’t happen with them at the top of the order!

    • Price’s management of the bullpen this year shows that he does have the capacity to evolve as a Manager.

      Although the top two are struggling, pretty much the rest of the lineup are absolutely raking!

      This Team had been a lot of fun through the first two weeks of the season….

    • The BP trade was idiotic?!? We have a different definition of that word then. I considered it joyous, long-overdue, and a source of a smile whenever I think about it.

      • What did the Reds get in return for BP? It was not a trade. It was a give away.,

        • What do you suppose they could have gotten for him? And what does he do if he isn’t traded? I’m a BP fan, but the Reds need to play young guys now and BP lacks the positional flexibility to be a wise addition to a very short bench.

  12. I don’t like bunting much even though there are times when it makes sense.Bunting in the 5th inning of a tie game with your lead off man at the plate with no outs and your pitcher on second is not one of those times.Just my opinion of course and we need to look at Billy and Peraza batting one and two in the line up.I mentioned it during the game but neither guy has done anything for the last three games.Walks appear to be foreign to both and Peraza swings at almost anything.Speed only comes in to play when you get on base and they aren’t getting on base.Maybe time to drop one of them down and move somebody up who is actually getting on base right now.Outside of Votto hitting 2nd or 3rd to me everybody else is interchangeable.Personally I would like to see what Schebler could do hitting behind Billy.He does walk and it creates a big hole on the right side which would turn some of those hard grounders into hits.

    • I like the idea of Schebler 2nd behind Hamilton, assuming you have to have Hamilton leading off, because, you know, speed 😉

      As a LH hitter and a pull-hitter, I think they will still shift him but with the 1B holding Hamilton on (on those rare cases he does get on), there is a little more room to get a grounder through there. I’ve also always liked some pop in the 2 hole and Schebler has lots of that.

      • Baseball thinking has continued to change, but, the lead off hitter has to be fast even if he cannot hit has not changed yet.

        Peraza in the 2 spot might be more of a concern, never taking a walk will have a serious impact on this OBP. Votto should be in the 2 spot anyway

  13. I know the history of Iggy and Lorenzen but if you have a team that is winning and the injuries just keep happening why not take one more stab as one of them as a starter! Feldman will not throw strikes BA cannot throw strikes above BP speed! I mean the train wreck that is Robert Stephenson is going to be thrown to the wolves again and these kids who couldn’t make the squad out of ST haven’t figured it out in 2 weeks so why not take another flyer on one of 2 real arms?

  14. Trying to make sense of Price saying the training staff knew about Finnegan’s bad shoulder before the start, yet when the club released a statement about Finnegan’s condition later they called it a strained lat.

    • Apropos of absolutely nothing, Steve, what did you think of how shallow Billy Hamilton was playing on the ball that went over his head.

      • I was ok with how shallow Hamilton was. He always plays shallow and he goes back on the ball as well as anyone in baseball. Also, I’d rather have them hit it over his head than have balls drop in front of him. His misplay last night was a bigger deal to me.

        • Even on that misplay last night, I can let it go. He makes so many great plays that he gets a pass on the rare times he flubs one. I have never been impressed with him as a hitter but his CF play keeps him as a starter. I would hit him 9th though.

  15. Man, have these Reds had the pitching injuries! What is the timeline on Disco & Homer?

    • Homer is mid-June. Disco hasn’t begun throwing yet, but ostensibly sometime in May, but I’m skeptical. I think he will probably end up with Tommy John surgery when it’s all said and done.

  16. This seems like a good example of why you need to develop young hitting. Pitchers tend to get hurt. I guess it does not hurt to have a number of young pitchers in case.

  17. I am dizzy. can we get a roster thread going with 3 day+/- over under ad 10/60 day DL updates?

  18. Time to send a message to Hamilton and Peraza. Give Scooter a couple of starts at second move Schebler to center for a day and play Winker. Might as well keep him up if Finnegan goes on DL.

  19. The Reds also have Luis Castillo at AA. He has 13 innings with only 6 hits/1 walk and 11 Ks. He’s 24 & older then Finnegan, Reed, and Stephenson so why not?

  20. I definitely like the idea of moving Suarez up to #2 in the lineup and seeing what happens. He might see a fastball or two extra in front of Votto. Duvall keeps it up he’s going to be good protection for Joey. I’d probably leave Billy in lead off for now and then move Cozart up to #6 with Peraza #7.

  21. Genette could play his way into the lineup. Perazza does have some skills and he could be a good super sub for now resting in center, short and second.

    Genette is average, I think the Brewers just wanted to get their best prospect in at short and move Villar’s bat to second base. Perazza is probably a better glove and is obviously quite fast, but he doesn’t have the power. I’d think Genette’s power in GABP is maybe why you start him at home more.

  22. Nothing to see here, Reds fans . . . via Mark Sheldon on the Reds MLB site:

    “Finnegan wasn’t concerned that he might have a more serious injury.” (Strained left shoulder.)

    “‘I talked to Doc and he said it’s nothing serious, nothing to be concerned about. I just need to keep working on it and get it better,’ Finnegan said. ‘I’ve never dealt with any arm problems at all. It’s definitely new to me…'”

  23. I think it’s about time to shuffle the line-up a little bit and put someone else at the top, maybe sitting Peraza for a while and inserting Genett, also sending Hamilton down the line-up. I’d go with Genett 2B, Votto 1B, Cozart SS, Schebler RF, Duvall LF, Suarez 3B, Barnhart C, Hamilton CF, P.

    • Why sit Peraza for Gennett? The idea, I thought, was to go young and develop our players. Picking up Gennett is a bandaid fix.

      Peraza has 12 hits, which is tied for third on the Reds team, and he does not strike out, nor walk. So his saber stats will look bad, because of the value they put on walks. He is not the problem right now. It is one slot below him in the lineup. Drop Votto below behind Cozart until he starts hitting.

      • With the way Peraza makes contact he makes a good #2 hitter for hit-n-runs but teams are going to figure out that he gets half his hits by dumping the ball in RF. The CF was playing in the other day on Peraza and raced in and got a ball in shallow right-center. Another option with his bat control is to bunt more! I would leadoff w/Schebler vs righties and Peraza vs lefties and definitely bat Billy 9th. I’d also bat Suarez or Cozart 2nd with the way they’re swinging the bats right now!

      • The value of walks isn’t something that’s made up by “saber stats” it’s a real thing. Each walk contributes a certain amount to run expectancy. You can’t wish away their value by brushing it off as something modern. If you don’t think walks have a huge offensive value, why do we care if Reds pitchers walk batters? Taking walks and power into account, even with the poor start to his season, Votto has had more offensive value than Peraza. And Votto has an established track record.

        • Walks are very important. Other than a homerun, without runners on base you’re not going to score. And working the count means more pitches, and a walk given up has a negative affect on the pitcher. Walks are often the turning point in a ballgame.

  24. Managers sometimes do a lot of things with the lineup.Our team is relatively new to the major leagues other then Cozy and Joey so their isn’t much data to go on.Having guys as fast as Billy and Peraza bat 1and 2 is ideal if they get on base but they haven’t lately so move them around.The guys that are hot should get the most at bats so move em up in the lineup.It’s not like anybody has a proven track record,other then Joey,to have a spot in the order etched in stone.So far I believe Suarez and Schebler are the only guys taking a walk and they do have some pop.Yesterday after Billy bunted Iggy to third,I don’t normally like bunts at all,Peraza is up and he maybe the one guy who is least likely to hit a fly ball deep enough to score the pitcher from third.Its a one time example of course and this team is 8-4 and in first place.Price is managing for a job and I like some of his moves so far especially with the pen so changing his batting lineup from time to time is a good idea.

    • I am on the fence about matching the line-up to which players are hot. It sounds good in theory. But baseball is not as cut and dry. Maybe they are hot because of where they are in the line-up or vice versa. Who knows. It is tough with all the variables.

    • The only team I’ve ever managed is a company softball team, and my lineups always reflected the people who were hot getting more at-bats. Anyone who has watched baseball over any period of time knows that players occasionally get into hot streaks during which they perform significantly better than career norms.

      Cozart is obviously in one now. Why not move him up in the order until his streak is over? I like Peraza as a player, but his current .240 OBP does not belong near the top of the order. Same for Hamilton at the moment. It would be great to see a manager try to maximize advantages like this and not worry about someone’s ego getting bruised. I tend to think Joe Maddon might do this.

      I know there are numerous considerations when making a lineup, such as lefty-righty matchups, but having Cozart low in the order when he’s batting .485 and has a .538 OBP seems quite a waste.

      • I just looked at today’s lineup, and the point above is magnified. Alcantara is batting second and Cozart seventh. I hope someone asks Price what his rationale is for that.

      • Cozart’s performance is driven by an absurdly high BABIP of almost .600. His K% is in line with his historic norms so he’s riding the wave of good luck. Do you want to give more at bats to a guy who any minute will begin the painful process of mean reversion?

  25. I still don’t get the need to rush Mesoraco. After “we’re waiting for him to catch a couple of days in a row,” I’d love to see “we’re waiting until he destroys AA pitching a couple of days in a row.”

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