The Reds open a six game road trip tonight in Milwaukee with the first of three games versus the Brewers. Game time is 7:40 p.m. ET. Despite dropping 7 of 10 games on their just completed home stand, the Reds remain a game above .500 at 10-9, good enough for second place in the NL Central -0.5 games to the Cubs. The Brewers stand at 9-11, tied for fourth place 2 games behind the Cubs. Over the last week, the Brewers lost 5 of  7 games, including the last 3 games of a 4 game series versus the Cardinals over the weekend.

The Reds have dropped 3 straight series, the Brewers 2 straight series. By late Wednesday afternoon, one of those streaks will have been broken. Both of these teams have been markedly better as road warriors than as home standers in 2017. Hopefully these trends will continue; and, the Reds will leave Milwaukee with at least 2 more wins to their credit.

Starting Pitchers

Amir Garrett (LH)  makes his  fourth major league start for the Reds. Garrett’s major league debut has been probably the biggest positive for the Reds in 2017. In three starts he has averaged over 6 innings pitched per start striking out batters at a rate of more than 1 per inning while issuing walks at a rate of just over 1 per 9 innings pitched and compiling a WHIP of 0.864. Just as importantly, Garrett has kept the ball in park, allowing only 1 HR allowed. Garrett did not pitch against the Brewers when they visited the Reds two weeks ago.

Veteran right hander Matt Garza makes the start for the Brewers. Tonight will be the 33-year-old Garza’s 2017 debut as he returns from a groin injury suffered in spring training. Garza’s numbers from 2015 and 2016 suggest he is in decline. His xFIP  for 2015 and 2016 was in the 4.50 range. His K/BB ratio which had been better than 3 for much of his career fell to under 2 in both those seasons.

Numbers

These two pitchers are at opposite ends of their careers; and, this is Garza’s 2017 seasonal debut. For comparison, we will go with Garza’s 2016 numbers and Garrett’s 2017 numbers.

PITCHER xFIP HR/9 BB/9 K/9
Matt Garza 2016 4.49 0.97 3.19 6.20
Amir Garrett 2017 2.69 0.46 1.37 9.61

Bullpens

On the surface the Reds pen would appear to be well rested with solid starts in 2 of the 3 games in the Cubs series and a yeoman’s long relief job turned in Saturday by Lisalverto Bonilla. However both Raisel Iglesias and Wandy Peralta, the Reds only LH bullpen man currently, worked 1+ innings on Sunday and are likely limited tonight. Blake Wood has experienced back to back tough outings. Michael Lorenzen has not pitched since his 40+ pitch appearance on Friday; but is he ready for a two inning stint tonight after that longish Friday appearance? Drew Storen thus could be a key piece tonight in Bryan Price’s bullpen puzzle. In one of the ironic cruelties of  MLB baseball, for his effort Saturday, Bonilla was replaced on the roster with the fresh but untried arm of Ariel Hernandez. When Hernandez gets into a game, it will be his MLB debut.

Nobody from the Brewers bullpen has worked longer than an inning in a game since Friday night. The single-inning stints seem to be well distributed among the corp. Due to tonight being Garza’s seasonal debut coming off of the DL, we could see most of them before the game is over.

Starting Lineups

            REDS

1. Billy Hamilton (CF)
2. Jose Peraza (2B)
3. Joey Votto (1B)
4. Adam Duvall (LF)
5. Eugenio Suarez (3B)
6. Scott Schebler (RF)
7. Zack Cozart (SS)
8. Stuart Turner (C)
9. Amir Garrett (P)

      BREWERS

1. Jonathan Villar (2B)
2. Eric Thames (1B)
3. Ryan Braun (LF)
4. Domingo Santana (RF)
5. Manny Pina (C)
6. Hernan Perez (3B)
7. Keon Broxton (CF)
8. Orlando Arcia (SS)
9. Matt Garza (P)

Stuart Turner gets the start behind the plate for the Reds tonight. I’m mildly surprised Scooter Gennett doesn’t get a starting call in his old stomping ground.

Offensive Notes

The Brewers Eric Thames came back to earth in the Brewers weekend series versus the Cardinals, that is  if 1HR and an OPS of .733 over four games qualifies as back to earth. Well, at least he looked merely human. Let’s hope the Reds can keep him well grounded the next three days.

Eugenio Suarez has continued to pound the ball for the Reds. Suarez compiled a 1.130 OPS on the Reds just completed home stand. That Votto guy also had a big home stand for the Reds, putting up a 1.072 OPS; but then, we knew that kind of performance was somewhere in the works. Milwaukee is historically a good hitting park for Votto. Maybe he can turn it up even another notch this week. Wouldn’t it be nice to see what might happen if Votto and Suarez were to bat back to back?

Final Thoughts

Last week was tough for the Reds. Against teams projected to be playoff level clubs, they managed for the most part to hang in; but, in at least two games, blinked first and took a loss when they they could have, probably even should have, a recorded win. Experiencing such losses and learning how to turn them into wins is part of the process the team must go through to get to where we and they want them to be. That does not however make them any easier live through.

Anyone looking for an immediate sign of improvement and progress by the Reds can latch onto the resiliency the team demonstrated last weekend. I’m not sure the 2016 edition of the Reds gets up off the mat to win Sunday after two tough losses to the Orioles, the crushing defeat on Friday and the debacle on Saturday; but, this 2017 team did.

The challenge the next three days is a different one. Instead of elevating to the level of the competition as the Reds needed to do last week, they need to avoid playing down to the level of even or lesser competition. They need to establish and maintain a level of excellence without regard to who is in the other dugout. That’s the lesson about winning which hopefully the Reds will master versus the Brewers. Go Reds!

Stats and data from FanGraphs  and Baseball Reference

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Twitter: @jn_walkerjr

Join the conversation! 82 Comments

  1. I look for the reds to win the series against the brewers. A sweep would be better, but that is perhaps unrealistic. Look for Hamilton and Paraza to steal multiple bags in this series, and for Votto, Duvall & Suarez to mash. Go reds. And Garrett, looks like an ace in the early going.

  2. Every time I see Hamilton/Peraza go 1-2, I lose a little faith in Price. He’s got a head start this year due to his “creative” bullpen usage, but neither Hamilton nor Peraza project to be good hitters, and neither of them are actually being good hitters… YET, they get more plate appearances than everyone because of the arcane notion of speed and “bat control.”

    HEY BRIAN… VOTTO’S CONTACT RATE IS HIGHER THAN PERAZA’S. MOVE HIM TO #2… HE “HANDLES THE BAT WELL,” whatever that means…

    • Didn’t you write a finely researched article here saying that line ups don’t really matter? 🙂

      I understand your frustration but am not going to let perfect prevent me from enjoying good. Well, until BP has a non-pitcher sac bunt again…

      • Sure did! I commented last year saying Suarez was hitting better in the 2 hole and basically was told I’m a dumb ass , it doesn’t matter where they hit.

  3. “Wouldn’t it be nice to see what might happen if Votto and Suarez were to bat back to back?”

    ————————————-

    Note to Chad. Get Dick Williams back on the phone and ask him about that !!

  4. I guess some roster moves are underway involving Mesoraco, Turner, Alcantara and Winker…stay tuned.

  5. Most importantly our favorite Brewers fan should be right in the center of the camera behind home plate.

  6. Superb write-up Jim! Looking forward to tonight’s game.

  7. I do like the creative shuffling of arms in and out of the bullpen. It builds depth and we get to “sort” who is and isn’t on the future staff. Perhaps one day. . .

    It’s going to be interesting how this shakes out in the long run. Eventually, these kids are going to run out of options and will have to find greener pastures elsewhere. But who stays and who goes? That’s a conundrum.

  8. great summary Jim

    We need to own the brew crew this week and show what we took from those 2 playoff like series that we did not win.

    Show up now boys and show us how you have grown over the past week

  9. Billy ball!

  10. Epic fail not get Billy in from 3rd with no outs. Peraza K’d on a pitch in the dirt. Votto fouled off several hittable pitches before walking..Duval…no contact K…Suarez ground out

  11. Ridiculous….Cubs have 2 outs nobody on & get 4 runs! We have the fastest man on the game on 3rd with nobody out and get NOTHING!!! That sucks!! Horrible atbats by Peraza & Duvall. Duvall got atleast 2 mistake 0-2 pitches right down the middle and fouled them off. If they ever want to be an elite offensive team again then they have to situationally hit better. They’ll erupt for 8 when the other guys get 12 but then score 5 total runs in a 3 game series….and its been that way for the last 3-4 years!

  12. It’s hard to watch an inning like that without concluding lineups DO matter.

    • Well Billy got to 3rd with nobody out. He’s not a good hitter but if he could maintain a .300 obp then thats better then most guys .350! Peraza is another story? He was a great bunter last year but they must be playing in so tight that he can’t bunt…and of course he swings at everything!

  13. That was Thames 6th HR against Reds pitching this year. He’s the next Bill Hall!

  14. 4-0 good grief….and the reds had 3 straight batters make contact to get a run

  15. Man the Brewers feast on Reds pitching.

  16. Wow – brutal !

  17. 2 out runs when we can’t score Billy w/nobody out…pathetic but Garrett is going to have growing pains like everyone else!

  18. 4th triple for Wheels Cozart!! Crazy….its like he’s a diff hitter completely! His swing and miss rate has to be a tiny %? Get’em in now!!

  19. Ok here’s another chance with a runner on 3B and less than 2 outs.

  20. Front Row Amy is sitting just above the K in Kids eat free.

  21. It appears that the scouting report is that Amir throws a lot of 1st pitch strikes…the Brewers are attacking early in the count.

  22. Thames again…..we’re his daddy

  23. Bernie Brewer is getting slide burns

  24. Are you kidding me !!! just walk the freaking guy !!!

  25. twice a 2 out walk trots home on a HR

  26. Amir is learning the hard way you can’t just chuck the ball and hope everything goes OK.
    Turner called for that ball to hit the dirt and it wasn’t even close.

  27. We may put Thames in the HOF? Why not try to jam him w/something? Everything is out where he can extend his arms. I’m ashamed to admit that I started thinking possible .500 or better with the 7-2 start but we should know better by now. This is a lows 70s to 75 win team at best

  28. To get the last out of the second inning he put it where turner called for it and the batter hit grounder cause he just got a piece of it. He’ll learn.

  29. Duvall is in a big time bad rut

  30. 3 run Johnson by Schebler!!!! Back in it 6-4

  31. Schebs…..streaky time! He’s like Bruce only streakier and Bruce was streaky! Winker has 4 doubles this year….thats it! Obp is great and everything but 3 run HRs win games in today baseball.

    • I was just to make the exact same Bruce comparison haha Scheb hits the ball hard…when he hits it

  32. New game.

    Hang in there, Amir.

  33. I bet Over 8.5 tonite….knew we would light up Garza and thought Amir might not like this park!

  34. 80 pitches thru 2.2 for Garza. Is he auditioning for the Reds?

  35. This game is winnable…>Garrett has to go!

  36. When you only throw 91 then pitchers aren’t scared of you either! He’s limited to a 3rd or 4th guy imo with that lack of velocity. He’s missing zero bats tonite!

  37. Mr. Walker cursed Garrett:

    “Just as importantly, Garrett has kept the ball in park, allowing only 1 HR allowed.”

    Wow, never would have imagined this. The walks are killing him too, 2 walks (with 2 runs scored) to a guy batting .193. Thank you Schebler for trying to get us back into this game.

  38. Letting Amir lead off after giving up 8 runs….Puzzling.

  39. Get him out now – he’s done !

  40. 8 runs allowed isn’t enough? Why leave him in? THey have a 13 man staff. I guess he’s just falling on the sword since they got beat up by the Cubs and used a bunch of guys.

    • Why not see how he responds to some adversity? Much more important than winning 76 games vs 75.

  41. Well Rookie Davis is back on Wed. Actually 2 of their best kids might be in AA Pensacola right now.

    Tyler Mahle just threw a perfect game (last pitch reported to be 99 mph!)
    26.2 ip (0.67 era) with only 7 hits/5 walks (0.45 whip)

    and Luis Castillo who they got for Straily
    24.1 ip (2.22 era) with 16 hits and 3 walks (0.78 whip)

    Why not give them a few games at Lville and then bring them up if they pass the test. Garrett, Rookie, and Romano have barely pitched AAA

  42. That was quite the strike zone for Votto …

    • Had a similar thought after the second strike. Meanwhile, Thames had a nice no-low strike zone in his last AB. O

  43. Price’s decisions in this game are beyond the parameters of “questionable management.” He seems to be entering “deliberately trying to get fired” territory.

    • Better take that up with Chad Dotson.

      He tweeted earlier this month that Price was deserving of a contract extension because of his ingenuity with handling the bullpen.

      • For the record, I still don’t think we know “what is what” regarding anything related to this team until at least 40 games in.

        Terry Francona said on the radio last week that he doesn’t even start to evaluate any of his starters until at least 4-5 times through the rotation to start the season.

        Shouldn’t all the Reds pitchers have at least a little longer of a leash?

    • Well he can’t pull every kid after 3 innings. He just can’t? Not with the way the Cubs used up the pen this weekend. Maybe Garrett will quit walking the leadoff guy and learn from it!

      • And yet, he DID pull him after recording one more out. This is what I’m talking about. He let the kid hit so he could stay in a game when he clearly couldn’t get anyone out, then took him out of the game AFTER HE HIT because… it was clear he couldn’t get anyone out? Either leave him for another few innings, regardless, or pinch hit when the team still has a fighting chance to win. Price made the worst possible combination of moves.

  44. Although Suarez hasn’t had a very good night at the plate. The fact that even the Brewers understand to play the hot hand with Thames batting second tells you Price is still stuck in Old School baseball mind. Hamilton and Pereza have to lead the majors in lowest OBP for spots one and two.

    • One of them needs to bat 9th and put Cozart 2nd! Cozart is making great contact and even taking pitches and drawing some walks! Its like hes a diff hitter completely.

  45. Tell you what , Reds can bring some arms that throw some cheese from that bullpen. Glad some of these guys from the minors are getting looks. Looks lto me like of them need to remain here !!!!

    • Wow….yes that kid was throwing SMOKE!! You put him & Peralta in the late innings w/Iggy closing and move Lorenzen back to the rotation. I think Lorenzen could get that power sinker going and be atleast better then most of our young guys. With the offense going and the pen….if Disco & Homer were available then I think this team could do .500 atleast!

  46. Turner suddenly looks like Scott Rolen tonite! Same type body and swing. I think they have to let him go though? Or maybe Alcantara…and keep 3 catchers

  47. Power arms play anywhere as long as they throw strikes.Speaking of throwing strikes in 7 innings the Cubs have 15 hits and 9 walks against the Pirates.Want to talk about a team that will take walks just look at the World Champs.

    • Yep….its the walks and the ability to drive up the pitch count or have the plate discipline to fight back from down in the count to extend atbats and not get yourself out.

      Speaking of power arms….like I said earlier Mahle & Castillo should be next in line. They’re showing great control and velocity!

  48. Looks like this Hernandez kid may be earning another appearance or two.What do you think?

  49. Why would Peraza swing on 2-0 down 5 runs in the 7th.Maybe the question should be why would they let him?

    • Yeah thats unacceptable! I didn’t see it but they need to talk to him! It might just be a mirage w/Cozart but the way he’s hitting and taking pitches now….don’t see how they can trade him? Herrera isn’t hitting either and is always hurt & Peraza may never be the hitter they want? They might have to make Peraza a utility guy and platoon Scooter until Senzel makes the Reds then move Suarez to 2b!

  50. As Hamilton pops up foul after foul with runners on, Thom and Welch just mentioned moving Cozart or Suarez to the top of the order. Price must be listening and will make the switch.

  51. We get great pitching and get 2 total hits and lose….then we score a ton but give up 10+ runs and lose. I guess its progress but its way too slow for my taste!

  52. Turner failing at blocking pitches

    • Not a great pitch by Lorenzen, but agreed, backhanding a breaking ball is no bueno.

  53. Lorenzen throwing 98 but he’s all over the place? It seemed like he was pitching to contact down in the zone last year and getting more harmless grounders. Now he’s up in the zone and getting hit hard. He’ll get it together!

    • His passed ball on strike three earlier in the inning would at otherwise

      • Votto whiffed on a force at the plate as well. I think Votto is so wrapped up in hitting or Canada or whatever that his mind wanders on D sometimes? I still love the guy….don’t get me wrong!

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