Before we get into the usual game and series preview, I want to introduce a new venture for us here at Redleg Nation tentatively titled the Seventh Inning Stretch. During the seventh inning of the last game in every series, one of the staff here at the blog will go live on Periscope. We’ll be interacting with fans, answering questions, reacting to the game, and looking forward at the next series.
In order for us to deem this a success and keep doing it, we need two things from you, dear reader. First, we need your participation. After all, everything we do here at Redleg Nation is meant to provide an awesome source of information, by fans for fans. This is another avenue of providing that information and analysis to you, as well as providing us with a forum in which to interact with you in real time.
Secondly, we need your questions! So, throughout the Orioles series, you can send me questions either in the comments on this post, on the Redleg Nation facebook page, or twitter @JordanBarhorst or @RedlegNation. We’ll compile the best and most relevant questions, and I’ll answer them live in the seventh inning of Thursday night’s game.
And, with that, we bring you to our regularly scheduled program:
After an off-night on Monday, the Reds are back at it tonight at Great American Ballpark. In the first interleague action of 2017, our Redlegs will host the somehow-AL East-leading Baltimore Orioles. Led by the hot bats of Trey Mancini and Chris Davis, the Orioles will hope to take advantage of Cincinnati’s recent pitching woes and continue to elude the red hot, second place New York Yankees.
The baseball gods have spared us a nightmarish pitching matchup:
— Deplorable Ben (@benjiace) April 17, 2017
Something’s gotta give, indeed. I had a few paragraphs written about tonight’s scheduled starter, Ubaldo Jimenez, and how he’s been even worse than Bronson Arroyo has been so far this season. I guess that’s what I get for reading ahead!
Instead, the Reds get the Oriole’s staff ace to start off the series. Gausman has looked okay so far on the young season – his ERA looks much better than the reality of his performance. The young Baltimore pitcher has been having the same problems many of the young Reds pitchers have been having, and that’s throwing strikes. Gausman has walked five hitters per nine, and that’s a rate you definitely don’t want out of the top of the pitching staff. His last appearance of 6.0 innings was also Gausman’s longest outing of the season, in which he walked 2, struck out 3, and gave up 5 hits to the Toronto Blue Jays. He’ll look to continue progressing against the Reds in Cincinnati.
Bronson Arroyo’s biggest problem has been giving up the long ball, a side effect of his well below average velocity. He’s flashed the ability to fool hitters with his movement and changing speeds and angles, but Arroyo’s mistake pitches look a lot like home run derby pitches – and the recipients of said pitches have treated them as such. In a season in which Redleg Nation seems to be hanging on every pitch of every pitcher to see how they may progress, the luster of the Bronson Arroyo Comeback Tour 2017 seems to be fading a little. It will be interesting to see how much longer the Reds feel they can devote a start every fifth day to a guy with a 10 ERA and no hope of being a part of the Next Great Reds Team™.
|LF Seth Smith (177 wRC+)||CF Billy Hamilton (46 wRC+)|
|CF Adam Jones (132 wRC+)||2B José Peraza (43 wRC+)|
|3B Manny Machado (91 wRC+)||1B Joey Votto (95 wRC+)|
|1B Chris Davis (181 wRC+)||LF Adam Duvall (130 wRC+)|
|RF Mark Trumbo (51 wRC+)||RF Scott Schebler (116 wRC+)|
|C Wellington Castillo (97 wRC+)||SS Zack Cozart (221 wRC+)|
|2B Jonathan Schoop (131 wRC+)||3B Scooter Gennett (184 wRC+)|
|SS J.J. Hardy (86 wRC+)||C Tucker Barnhart (83 wRC+)|
|P Kevin Gausman (5.00 xFIP)||P Bronson Arroyo (5.98 xFIP)|
Update: 3B Eugenio Suarez was scratched with a stiff neck. Schebler and Cozart are bumped up a spot, and Scooter Gennett will be starting at 3B and batting 7th.
Other than that, the Reds will trot out their usual lineup, for better or worse. You’ve got to wonder if the hesitancy in moving Cozart up in the lineup is due to a feeling of comfort in keeping things the same. Hamilton and Peraza’s 46 and 43 respective wRC+ numbers aren’t going to cut it at the top of the lineup for long.
Missing from Baltimore’s lineup is rookie standout Trey Mancini. Mancini has gotten off to one of the best power hitting starts to his career as anyone in history. He’s got 7 HRs and 14 RBIs over his last 12 games (including a few in ’16), and he’s only the third such player to do so since 1913 (Dino Restelli, ’49; Trevor Story, ’16).
The Orioles have plenty of power in their lineup, and they’ll look to put a few into the stands in the hitter friendly Great American Ballpark over the next three days.
News and Notes
#Reds announce they’ve called up relief pitcher Lisalverto Bonilla and have optioned Sal Romano to Triple A.
— Joe Danneman (@FOX19Joe) April 18, 2017
#Reds have scored 10 runs in each game of their current 2-game winning streak vs the Orioles at GABP. (BAL last came to GABP in 2005)
— Joel Luckhaupt (@jluckhaupt) April 18, 2017
— Dan Connolly (@danconnolly2016) April 18, 2017
- It’s always fun to see AL pitchers hit in National League ballparks. Gausman has a total of 7 plate appearances in his young career, and has yet to record his first major league hit. He did have a walk in 2016, so his slash line doesn’t consist completely of zeroes.
- The Reds released RHP Carlos Portuondo yesterday. If his name doesn’t ring a bell, you aren’t alone. He was one of the two pieces the team received in return from Atlanta in the Brandon Phillips deal. He made one appearance in Pensacola. Make of that what you will.
- Around the time I’m writing this, sources have claimed that Starling Marte, the NL Central rival Pittsburgh Pirates best player, has tested positive for PEDs. If true, he’s looking at an 80 game suspension. We’ll fill you in more as this news develops.
The Reds face their first true test of the season in the Orioles. They’re off to a hot start, and they’re swinging the bat very well. A series win here would be a huge statement that this team is done playing for the #1 draft pick. In the past, this kind of series – one with three weeknight games in Cincinnati – would have been an easy series to let slide by without anyone noticing the three losses. It will be interesting to see how the young players bounce back from their struggles with a team in the Brewers that they were projected to sweep.