Titanic Struggle Recap

Reds lose to Brewers and provoke dumb narratives

Someone forgot to tell the Milwaukee Brewers about the Reds plan to run away with the NL Central title.

As I was leaving the ballpark and walking by the Holy Grail, I think I heard one of the Reds TV broadcasters ask the other about the Reds losing three out of four to the Brewers. The paid TV analyst replied (I think) that this was the problem with young starting pitching, it’s inconsistent. Even as I was trying to remember where I parked my car, this claim made little sense to me.

Two of the Reds three losses were started by 40-year-old Bronson Arroyo and 34-year-old Scott Feldman. The club was 1-for-2 in games with young starting pitching. Also, in the three losses the Reds scored an average of 2.3 runs.

Seems like a sloppy and weird narrative to offer that the “young starting pitching” was to blame. Let’s see if the TV and radio broadcasts lazily run with it nonetheless. Hashtag: Analysis.

The Reds have an off day Monday before facing the Baltimore Orioles in a 3-game series. If you’re concerned about the match-up between the Orioles’ explosive home-run hitting offense and Bronson Arroyo on Tuesday, that’s reasonable. For safety, I recommend sitting somewhere other than the outfield.

Since the Cubs were swept by the Pirates this weekend, our Cincinnati Reds remain in first place in the NL Central. The Milwaukee Brewers are alone in 2nd.

Cincinnati Reds 2  Milwaukee Brewers 4 || MLB || FG || Statcast

Sal Romano’s major league debut lasted three innings. He gave up four walks and three hits while striking out two. It would have gone a lot better had Arismendy Alcantara played competent defense. Romano started off the first inning throwing 97-mph fastballs. By the third inning, the speed was down to 94-95. The four walks were obviously an issue. Romano threw 82 pitches in three innings, 39 for strikes. He gave up back-to-back homers to Ryan Braun and Travis Shaw. Keep in mind you should never judge a pitcher by his first major league start.

The bullpen – Tim Adleman (4 IP), Blake Wood (1.1 IP) and Wandy Peralta (.2 IP) – was fine, striking out 8 and walking 0 in their 7 innings. Adleman gave up a solo home run to Eric Thames just after I’d turned to Doug Gray and said I wasn’t crazy about Adleman facing the heart of the Brewers lineup a second time. Overall, though, Adleman was great. The lesson, if any, the Reds should take from that is that Adleman could fit the long relief role when Cody Reed and Robert Stephenson move promptly to the starting rotation.

You know the bats were sad when, other than a 2-run homer from Eugenio Suarez, the high points were two lefty sluggers bunting for shift-beater hits against right-handed pitchers. Billy Hamilton did draw a walk, his second of the season. /waves tiny Reds pennant/ Hamilton was then thrown out attempting to steal 2nd.

The crowd that blames Joey Votto and his bags of money for everything bad better hurry up and get their hot takes out there because the Reds first baseman is showing signs that his inevitable numbers are inevitable. As wallet-free as Votto’s been so far, he’s still slugging .458 with ISO of .250.

Meanwhile, the top two spots in the Reds lineup went a combined 2-for-31 in this series, with 2 walks. Both hits were singles. That’s a line of .064/.129/.064. Yikes. Joey Votto was probably confused in the first inning this afternoon when he looked up from the batters box and saw one of his teammates standing on a base. Alcantara had walked. Votto singled sharply down the right field line.

Defensive play of the day was by Billy Hamilton, who (video) raced back to the wall to take a hit away from Nick Franklin in the 6th inning. Statcast ruled the play a lineout and figured Franklin had a 54% chance of a hit. That’s a higher hit probability than Ryan Braun’s 3rd inning home run (33%). Such is the wonder of Great American Small Park. According to the numbers, the catch Billy made on Orlando Arcia’s fly ball in the 2nd inning was even a better play, with a 65% chance of being a hit. Hamilton may struggle at the plate, but he saves runs all the time with his defense.

Defensive misplay(s) of the day go to Arismendy Alcantara, who dropped a routine foul pop-up, extending Romano’s first inning by more than a dozen pitches. In the 3rd inning, the Reds second baseman muffed an easy ground ball, allowing Eric Thames to reach first base where he scored on Ryan Braun’s home run.

59 thoughts on “Reds lose to Brewers and provoke dumb narratives

  1. I think we have to assume at least a short-run constraint that Reds management will value speed over OBP for the lead off hitter. However, I don’t see why both the one and two spots have to be speed guys. Price in the past has batted Votto second. I would like to see Votto second, Suarez third, Duvall fourth and Schebler fifth.

    • How is management the issue, price fills out the lineups. He doesn’t play Winker, let’s be real here.

      • If I’m Price, I don’t start Winker if I know he is only going to be here two days either. That is completely different than Winker getting called up indefinitely.

        • Why? He’s a better hitter, according to every expert and projection system, RIGHT NOW than Patrick Kivlehan or Scooter Gennett. Sure, Scooter has had a few good ABs, but that doesn’t change years of data. We know what kind of hitter Scooter is. “One that is worse than Winker” is the kind.

          • I’m more stats-oriented than most, but even I recognize that there is a human element to the game. You are stepping into a no win situation for the manager and the organization for very little reward. I think you misunderstand when I say I wouldn’t have started Winker. I would not have started him over the guys that really have playing time and therefore at risk due to Winker, Duvall or Schebler. I would have played Winker above the two backups.

            More importantly to me (if I’m sitting in Price or Williams’ shoes), if Winker starts and goes 8-8, does it affect the Reds outlook on his career? It shouldn’t. Does it create an unnecessary public relations issue for the organization? Yeah, probably. Now they have external pressure to play Winker at the expense of two other guys that they are high on, and potentially hurt their trade values. In poker, this is called a negative freeroll, where a player can only tie or lose a hand.

  2. Just as I fear Rookie Davis isn’t quite ready for the big leagues, I feel the same about Romano, though I like Romano more. Romano really struggled the first half of last season in AA before turning it on and really dominating.

    I’d like to see him get 10-12 AAA starts before determining whether he is ready for the big leagues. The jump from AA to the Majors is just so big. If the Reds didn’t have so many other intriguing options that already have extensive experience in AAA and/or the majors (Stephenson, Reed, Lorenzen), I’d better understand letting Romano start. But, I hate the idea of the Reds rushing another pitching prospect, like they did with Homer Bailey and Michael Lorenzen, when they really don’t need to.

    I’m a BIG Romano fan and think he will be a big part of the pitching staff. Maybe he will be one of those guys that can make that leap from AA to MLB, but it’s not common. One start doesn’t mean anything, so I’m certainly not saying today proves anything.

    • Nick-Agree completely. I was about to write something similar. All I’d add is those guys you mentioned had extensive AAA experience and have still struggled in the Majors. It really is asking a lot to make that jump. But I love Rookie and Romano longer term.

      • True. Most people struggle with the transition to MLB. Those three I mentioned just don’t have much more to prove at the minor league level while Davis and Romano do.

        • I suspect Davis was brought up earliest because he was essentially a non-prospect and therefore they weren’t super worried about his development. Although he has done better than I thought he would, his lack of a real strikeout pitch really hurts him.

  3. Is Arroyo Ownership’s idea, or did gm and manager really think that is is a good idea? Arroyo means inking an automatic loss every 5th start.

  4. In response to the statement that Hamilton saves runs, I WOULD say that he didn’t save enough today, but then I suppose you could say that it could’ve been worse.

  5. Was at the game today. I’ve been to plenty of professional baseball games and the strike zone was very incosistent. I was in the scout box with a perfect down the middle view. The same pitches weren’t called equally and I felt Romano was given a rookie strike zone.

    Not that any of that resulted in the outcome of the game, but it’s hard to get your rookie in the groove when strike 1 and ball 1 are in the same spot.

    • Rough series to say the least. Heck tho still in first two weeks in. The Cubs don’t look so unbeatable this season either.

  6. I hope Acantara’s defense today was an aberration. Our offense has been sluggish apart from Duvall, Suarez, and Cozart. I think we have more issues than juggling the line-up will provide.

      • Alcantara made 3 errors in the spring, 1 at SS in the 2nd game of the spring, and 2 at SS in the 4th game of the spring. He played clean the remaining 28 spring games he appeared in at 4+ positions. Unfortunately for him, this game will stand out as a first impression for Reds fans and he’ll now forever be a bad fielder, no matter what he does from this day forward.

  7. I do think Cozart deserves more ABs.

    What a catch by Billy – but of a face-plant on the warning track. Eugenio is sure a fun hitter to watch. He’s using all fields and showing some pop.

    The Brewers do have some boppers. That Thames is a beast – pretty solid pickup by Milwaukee. He’d hit 80 homers if he played in GABP.

    Lining up Arroyo, Garrett and… Reed/Feldman against Baltimore? Let’s get ready to play the O’s, who are playing solid ball. Should be a fun series to watch – especially since it’s rare to have the O’s come to Cincy – since 1970 world series or have they come in the interleague era more recently?

    • Jun 10-12, 2005 was the last time the Orioles came to Cincinnati. We have played them almost every 3 years, but it seems we only played in Baltimore for a while.

      So, first time in over a decade we host Baltimore!

    • Yes, Baltimore should be fun, but what I am really looking forward to is April 21-23. Da Cubs!!!

  8. Just wondering why a 25 man roster spot is being used for a non pitcher guy who can’t hit and is apparently a liability on defense?? Of course that also raises the question “why do the Reds run out a BP pitcher every fifth day. Neither of the spots makes any sense in any scenario.

    • Because he can be a liability at multiple positions. The starters are a problem well beyond Arroyo(who, as a BP pitcher, would piss all of the hitters off). Potential, yes, and 4 inning starts while we’re waiting for the potential to be realized.

  9. Not much to say here: Romano is still away from majors level, poor defense (Alcantara) and a meager 5 hits offense, it’s hard to win a game that way. 2B is a really tough position to play if you don’t play often, that’s why Peraza should take the super-utility role (SS, 2B, CF) and let Herrera take over 2B when fully healthy. Had Alcantara made that couple of outs the outcome would be other. So far, every position is solid in every aspect but 2B and CF, but Hamilton’s defense is just amazing.

    • When is/has Herrera been fully healthy?

      Billy was good the 1st week, and bad the 2nd. I can’t believe the backlash after a few bad games. He hit the ball hard several times, worked the pitch count.

  10. With already four arms in DL it’s hard to assemble a competitive starting rotation and the bullpen cannot take that toll forever, only Garrett and Feldman provide some confidence. Water level should return to normal this week when facing O’s and Cubs.

  11. The Reds simply have to begin getting more innings from their starting pitchers.

    In 2016, Reed, for all the beatings he took, was just short of 5IP per start (drop his final start of the season where he went just 1IP; and, he exceed 5 innings per start).

    Stephenson averaged just short of 4.2 innings per start. It is time to quit whatever they are doing with these two and send to the mound to start games. And yes, long term Adelman is a the long reliever; but the situation is getting so out of hand perhaps they should consider starting him several times.

    • Agree that Reed and Stephenson should be tried as starters again, Jim, but 4.2 and 5 innings won’t cut it, especially with one or both of them unavailable to pitch multiple innings out of the pen.This will yet prove to be a year for sorting, with a lot of the sorting revolving around the starting pitching.

      • I agree that 4-5 innings won’t cut it over time; but it an inning and a half to 2 more than they are getting now which could be critical to wearing out and possibly ruining long term valuable bullpen arms in a season of sorting.

    • A lot of this is Price himself. If he wants more innings, then he needs to quit babying the young starters and keep sending them out there until they’ve reached their pitch limits. Why did he yank Romano after the 3rd with only 82 pitches? On average a SP pitcher tosses about 16 pitches per inning. It’s only a 3-0 game for gosh sakes, your pitcher is at least one inning away from reaching his pitch count. Quit babying these guys! Send them out there and let them know they need battle through it and you’re going to let them take their lumps, work out of jams whether they are of their making or not, They should know they are going out there to toss 100+ pitches every time they take the mound and you expect them to throw strikes and be out there until at least the 6th or 7th inning every time. We aren’t going to the playoffs this year, let the young guys throw and let them battle through the tough spots and learn something. It will quicken the learning curve and show you who has the mettle to get it done and who is going to learn something and be a valuable piece going forward.

      • Romano threw 82 pitches in three stressful innings. There is a time and place to teach young pitchers lessons, and it is not their first MLB start.

        Even discounting the above, I don’t really disagree with Price’s approach. As far as I’m concerned, Price is trying to win baseball games, and I don’t really disagree with him taking out any of the young guys to put the team in a better position to win for now , in addition to not pushing young guys early in the season.

      • @Tom: I was at the game–lower boxes by the pitcher’s mound. Romano had clearly lost it by then. The first inning had taken it from him. By the end, he was serving batting practice. This is not to cast blame on Romano. I really like him, and he is a keeper and will be in our rotation soon enough. He fought through the first inning. But by the time Price pulled him, he was spent,, and it was clearly time for him to go.

        If you want to blame anyone, blame Alcantara. His misplay extended the first inning, which seemingly dragged on forever and drained. And that was only the first of his two fielding mistakes.

        By the way, Romano’s extended family was at the game–very loud and supportive. Loved them!

        • I like Romano too. But come on, if you’re SP material, you have to be able to go out there put your innings in. If you’re spent after 80% of your pitch count, maybe you need to be in the bullpen. The errors behind him are irrelevent. Deal with it and learn from it. It’s not like those 2 errors caused him to only throw 39 strikes out of his 82 pitches. This really has nothing to do with Romano anyway, just a general statement on Price saying he needs more innings from his starters when he’s the one pulling them from the games before they’ve reached their pitch counts. He’s already left about 10 IP that he could have gotten out of his starters on the table, where he’s chose to have gone with his bullpen already this season.

          • Sure, starting pitchers have to be able to put their innings in, but that was his first MLB start, and he’d dealt with a good deal of adversity, much of it not his own doing, and he was gassed–nearly hyperventilating. Does that mean he isn’t SP material? I doubt it. But I really doubt that leaving him in for more thrashing to instill a lesson could have badly backfired.

      • 82 pitches in 3 innings is a stress on an arm. Price was not babying Romano. It was time for him to leave the game or Price would be charged with pitcher abuse.

      • I was off all but the grid. I knew Romano had allowed 3 runs the but didn’t know any details. I was also surprised when I got word he was out of the game after 3 innings having allowed only the 3 runs.

        I wonder if we are seeing a bit of a conflict between Price and Williams playing out over the pitching and how they are using the guys they have..

  12. Maybe things in the NL Central will settle into the anticipated pattern over the next couple of weeks; but, the division has been total chaos the first two weeks.

    The Cards are on the verge of digging themselves into the kind of hole that can take a while to overcome.
    The Pirates have yet to play in a series that wasn’t a sweep (2 up/ 2 down).
    Milwaukee has played 2 four game series both winning and losing 3 of 4 and also has a 2 game short series winning sweep to their credit.
    The Cubs have already been swept at home by a divisional foe.
    Our Reds despite what about has to be the among the most unstable starting pitching in MLB stand atop the division at 8-4 and have a road sweep, after struggling to win at all on the road early in 2016.

  13. I thought that I was negative and critical…. but boy oh boy Steve you got me beat on the negative factor hands down.

    • Marty is normally overally critical but I thought this game recap was pretty accurate! We’ve lost 3 of 4 and now its Bronson Arroyo against a team full of guys with 30+ HR power and its not even helmut night? 2-3 blasts in less then 5 innings is a given!
      EIther way….they’ve shown some hope for the future and lets hope Price figures out a way to think outside the box with the lineup just like the bullpen! Hamilton & Peraza at the top just means they get back to the dugout faster then other teams 1-2 hitters! I think I’d go Schebler/Peraza/Votto vs righties with Billy 9th & Peraza/Suarez/Votto vs lefties! Suarez is killing everyone now but the Reds should really want to get every atbat they can out of him vs lefties!

    • I always look forward to reading something written by Steve. Maybe the truth is a “negative factor” sometimes, but that’s the kind of stuff I want to know. Go to the Reds MLB site if you want the sugar-coated fluff. (This isn’t directed at you personally, Simon.)

      • If that is how you feel then don’t freak out when I come full buckets of bitter when things don’t go the way I think they should. So far I can’t imagine a better start nor a better management process going on in Cincy.

        • I’ll definitely pay more attention to your future thoughts, since you put it that way!

  14. Quickies:

    Big Sal will be fine. AAA has a lot of grinders trying to get to the show, or trying to get back to the show. Romano needs to learn how to get those guys out. I say AAA but don’t think MLB will stunt his growth, it’ll just be a bit uglier.

    Is this the Cozart who was raking before his injury? If so, we may have a late blossoming hitter who can still field. Peraza better get going or else Cozart will retire a Red.

    Winker will be playing everyday and batting 1st/2nd come mid June… right?

  15. The team was rolling right along at 7-2, as Billy, Peraza, Duval, got off to hot starts while Votto was ice cold. What they needed was for Votto to carry the team for a week as the others cooled off, and he hasn’t been able to do it going 5 for his last 26.

    It was OK for him to struggle while they others were picking him up. But there are times when the superstar has to step up and carry the team.

    • This isn’t the NBA or Aaron Rodgers vs the NFC! As noted….Billy & Peraza weren’t on base and they can always pitch around Joey. Its all in the #s I suppose but he went 4-13 (.308) with a HR, double, and 2 walks vs Milw. He’ll be fine!

      • If you need a MLB comparison….I guess what I’m looking for is a Harper-like performance…

        • Not be a smart aleck…but you mean the disruptive kid that hit .240 last year? Its nowhere close to apples to apples either? Adam Eaton is one of the best table setters in the game & so is Trea Turner when he’s healthy. Harper would be seeing very little if Zimmerman wasn’t having a mini-resurgence as well. My point being….hard for anyone not named Thames to go off every series!

          • Disruptive? He’s one of the nicest, law-abiding kids in baseball today.

            Aim your discontent at young people towards wife beaters and drug abusers. Harper is good for baseball, IMO.

          • He has had some run-in’s with the umps and acted childish when he first came up but actually I like Bryce Harper and maybe its good to have one guy that gets most of the attention…good or bad! Its lets everyone else fly under the radar!

    • I’m not sure there is a switch where a superstar can just “step up.” If that were true, he’d just be in “step up mode” 100% of the time. Not a real thing.

  16. I was not a fan of starting Romano anyway. Even though I have high hopes for him, I felt all along that this start should have gone to Cody Reed. He has done everything asked of him so far this year (7 shutout innings, 7 K’s, no hits, 4 walks). He has earned a chance.

    • Good point! It’s not like he needs to get stretched out. These rookies are averaging 80 pitches before they’re yanked anyway.

  17. Fear not about any of the Reds pitchers not getting a chance to start. I bet the Reds start more different pitchers this season than any team in baseball. Hopefully there will be a pleasant surprise or two because there are sure to be disappointments.

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