Tonight is game 2 of the Reds 3 game series with the Brewers in Milwaukee. The Reds need to clear their heads, take a deep breath and get back  in the saddle after last night’s 11-7 stomping administered by the Brewers.  The Brewers have scored 35 run against the Reds in 5 games. It would behoove the Reds pitching to find a way to stem this level of carnage.

Starting Pitchers

Righthander Scott Feldman starts for the Reds tonight. After a rough outing on opening day, Feldman has shown signs of settling in as reliable rotation piece in his succeeding 3 starts.  In those three starts Feldman has averaged 6 innings pitched per game with a longest outing of seven innings in his most recent start against the Orioles.  Over the same 3 starts,  the slash line of opposing hitters against Feldman has been just .194/.265/.306; and, he has allowed only 3 earned runs.  Feldman is not part of the Reds future but with the young arms struggling to complete enough innings to save the bullpen from depletion, if Feldman continues to pitch as he has in his last three games, he is filling a necessary role for now.

Zach  Davies is scheduled to be the Brewers starter. He is a 24 year old rightie who the Brewers hope may be part of their next good team based a solid first full MLB season in 2016 which saw him earn 2.8 fWAR. However, Davies has not had a good start to his 2017 season.  He has made four starts but has yet to reach 20 innings pitched for the season. The math says he is  just under 5 innings per start; and, there is no single bad outing skewing the number low. Davies xFIP  in 2017 is 4.78. His K/BB ratio has fallen to 1.6 from 3.55 for the 2016 season.  The opposing hitters’ slash line against him for 2017 is .345/.415/.619, ouch!


A straight up comparison of 2017 numbers, 4 starts for each:

Zach Davies 4.78 1.37 4.58 7.32
Scott Feldman 4.00 1.19 3.18 7.54


After Monday’s game, Bryan Price acknowledged that he felt strapped by a short bullpen and had left Amir Garrett in longer than he would have liked to because of his bullpen situation.  New arrival Ariel Hernandez was eventually brought on to relieve Garrett and  pitched a sensational 2.2 innings in his MLB debut.  Hernandez was followed by Drew Storen and Michael Lorenzen who both pitched an inning.  Storen and Lorenzen are probably available for an  inning tonight. All things being equal everybody else should be good for full go.  Earlier today, just as with the guy Ariel Hernandez replaced, Lisalverto Bonilla, Hernandez has been sent back to the minors to be replaced by another fresh arm. This time Barrett Astin received the call to come on up.

We need to be alert to the possibility that the reason Price felt constricted by his bullpen situation Monday is that somebody in the pen is nursing an unpublicised  “minor” injury of some sort.  Also there is the issue of the Robert Stephenson and Cody Reed, two guys who are not clearly relievers or starters but are taking up roster spots.  Something may give as soon as tomorrow when a 25 man spot will be needed for announced starter Rookie Davis to return from the DL.

The Brewers used 5 relievers on Monday. Nobody went more than an inning; and, it was a consecutive day of work for only 1 of the 5, Jhan Mariñez.  The Brewers pen may not be world beaters; but, manager Craig Counsel seems to have his bullpen rotation figured out.

Starting Lineups


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. Tucker Barnhart (C)
9. Scott Feldman (P)


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

Offensive Notes

The Reds did not take my advice to keep Eric Thames grounded. Another day versus the Reds, 2 more HRs for Thames.  That’s 2 multiple HR games and 7 HRs in 5 games for Thames versus the Reds. Even when the Reds got around to intentionally walking Thames, he came around to score!

Scott Schebler has had two strong offensive games back to back. Hopefully he is rediscovering  the form we saw in August and September of 2016. Zack Cozart continues to hit well.  Meanwhile Adam Duvall is scuffling.  His slash line over the last week is .148/.143/.407.  Monday he ran several deep counts but eventually came up empty. Jeff Brantley noted last night on the Reds radio feed that Duvall seems to have developed a loopiness in his swing which was wasn’t present when he was hitting the ball well early on this season. And a shout out to Stuart Turner who doubled twice in what may have been his last start for the Reds, at least for his current tenure.

Final Thoughts

One of the things about baseball which has often caught my mind’s eye is how sometimes a particular team seems to dominate another team beyond what we would expect based on performance numbers, outcomes versus common opponents,  and overall records. For instance, recall the 2010 season when the Reds went 6-12 head to head against Cardinals but won the NL Central division by 5 games over the Cards.

Right now now the Brewers seem to be on such a run  against the Reds.  Overall there is only 0.5 games difference between the Reds and Brewers in the standing. Yet the Reds are 1-4 against the Brewers while 9-6 against the rest of field including 6 games with a couple of well regarded teams, the Cubs and Orioles. Against the rest of MLB, the Reds have a run differential of +1.67 runs a game; but, they have a run differential of -2.8 runs a game versus the Brewers.  Just short of 40% of all the runs allowed by the Reds in 2017 have been scored in the 25% of their total games which have been against the Brewers.  On the flip side, the Reds have scored about 20% of their runs versus the Brewers, whose pitching has been ravaged by other teams. I’m open and eager to hear if anyone has an explanation for this.

In the meantime, the Reds need to reach back and find some of that resiliency I gave them props for yesterday.  Tomorrow is an afternoon contest, remember to sleep quick as Jack McKeon always said. Go Reds!


Stats and data from FangraphsBaseball Reference and Major League Baseball
Twitter: @jn_walkerjr

Join the conversation! 69 Comments

  1. Nice summary Jim. Lets get back to some out of the box thinking again.

    The same lineup going out again tonight.
    BHam>Peraza>Votto> Duvall>Suarez>Schebler>Cozart>Barnhart>P.

    Against all these RH pitchers the Brewers have, it wouldn’t hurt to throw out a lineup of

  2. I have a question: Is there a limit to how many times the Reds can send bullpen arms back and forth between the minors and the majors? Because if there isn’t, why don’t they just keep a constant stream of fresh arms going back and forth for the whole season?

    Heck, why don’t they make two whole bullpens? Keep one up for one series, then send them down, all 5-6 pitchers, and call the other up for the next series. They almost have enough pitchers to do it, and that way Price can burn through pitchers like a pyromaniac in a flash paper factory.

    Of course, it’d also be nice if the starters could, you know, pitch more than 4 or 5 innings each time…. but still! This could be the real bullpen revolution (i.e. completely remove any strategy or repercussions whatsoever)!

    • I think as long as they are on the 40-Man roster there is no limitation. The team has 3 or 4 option years to assign someone on the 40-man roster to the minors. This is also subject to Veteran’s Consent which means someone who has 5 years of service time in the MLB can refuse assignment to the minors.

    • Once a player is placed on the 40 man roster, the team has 3 option years when he can be moved back and forth between the major leagues and minor leagues at the team’s discretion.

      Typically the only limitation in moving a player back and forth is that when a player is sent down to the minors, he must remain in the minors for at least 10 days before he can be recalled to the majors.

      Like all rules this one does have exception. A player who has been in the minors less than 10 days after being optioned down can be recalled in response to an injury which moves another MLB level player to the DL. However a player brought up under such emergency circumstances is awarded MLB service time for period of less than 10 days he was back in the minors. So, this doesn’t happen often, at least not with players who are considered legitimate MLB prospects.

      • Question? Are we saying an option is for an entire year, meaning they can just shuttle a player back and forth every 10 days from AAA? (take it no 10 day rule to be on MLB roster) I always thought every time they optioned a player that counted. I believe they only optioned Stephenson 2 times last year before Sept call-up so they could technically option him multiple times this year and next?

      • So why not just option a guy, like Astin over and over, it seems a little inconsiderate to your AAA team to give them as worn out unavailable reliever, and making the player travel all over the place but it seems like Astin would be a good choice, since they already have optioned him twice. I think it has been 10 days, right?

  3. The three guys that could be the “hurt” reliever are Iglesias, Wood and Peralta. They each just threw on Sunday, so any injury to these guys would probably be recent. My bet is on Blake Wood because he only pitched 10 pitches on Sun and has been known to go back to back before. Also, he has seemed to struggle lately (no outs on Sunday, 2 hits) so maybe this is explanation? Best guess I can come up with.

    • Is Reed back to the pen, his turn is Thursday- off day- and I had not seen him scheduled to start?

  4. Hernandez….still can’t get over 100 mph & that curve. I can’t fathom anyone hitting that stuff in the minors! Yes Duval is struggling a little bit but he did hit a HR vs the Cubs. It almost seems like he’s pulling a Votto when Joey is going bad where he tries to inside/out everything including inside pitches. Garza threw several middle-in and Duvall kind of jammed himself by trying to drive it the other way. When’s he’s on then atleast one of those goes 425 ft to left! He’ll be ok! I’m more concerned with Zach Cozart turning into Zach Cozart! I like this Dustin Pedroia’s bigger brother act that he’s pulling off! Redlegs 6-4 tonite….tired of the Brewers already!

  5. Another night, and my dreams of seeing a different lineup are dashed. Dereliction of duty comes to mind. Perhaps there isn’t only ONE lineup you can think up, Brian!

    • I think I know what Price is thinking….atleast somewhat? Billy gets on to leadoff and it might be a triple so its hard to compare his obp to anyone else in the game. I think they’re thinking Peraza will become a Martin Prado (.293 lifetime) who doesn’t walk much but he makes so much contact and sprays the ball around thats he’s been a longtime effective #2 hitter. Problem is Cozart and Suarez do the same thing w/power and a few walks and the #2 hitter might only bat 2nd once? We might have Tucker on 1st/2outs and need a blast in the gap or a hr! I don’t know why they can’t bat one of them 9th and accomplish the same thing except get our hottest hitters more atbats!

      • Maybe it is as innocent as wanting Hamilton and Peraza to get as many at bats as possible. If you are wanting or needing a player to grow best way is by exposure so if the Reds need a player to improve their hot skill best way to do it is pit them in a position to get an extra atbat or 2 each night. Works for me to think that at least

  6. Price is a graduate of the Dusty school of lineups: same one every night! Come on, switch Peraza and Cozart. It’s not that tough. I’d rather a free thinker or someone who pays attention to stats versus someone stuck in one mode all the time.

    • Being Devil’s advocate – didn’t people scream a few year back at the constant presence of Cozart in the 2 hole. It would make a lot of sense having one leading off, one 9th, batting Votto 2nd, and then your choice of Cozart, Suarez and Duvall. If Mes comes back who actually bats at the bottom of the order?

      • Thank you. Cozart is not a top of the order hitter.we have seen that over the years.

  7. To play devils advocate, doesn’t it make sense to see if Hamilton and Peraza can improve their OBP at the top of the lineup before moving them down? Should experimentation, patience and thinking long term over ride short term wins at this point? If 2018 is the year to compete, shouldn’t this year be more about determining what’s possible than working to finish above the Brewers?

    • I realize you’re just playing devil’s advocate. My reply would be that the #1 and #2 spots should be for two of the best hitters on the team, if not the two best. Even if Hamilton and Peraza come around, they aren’t going to be that.

      • I think 2-3 should be your best guys (Bryant/Rizzo) but either way BIlly/Jose ain’t cutting it!! Cozart battled Davies for 10 pitches or something and gets a hit…Jose swings at a ball and dribbles out on the 1st or 2nd pitch usually.

    • To improve his OBP Peraza needs to stop swinging at pitches a foot out of the strike zone. While I understand hitting isn’t easy, when you’ve got a 2-0 count and you swing at what would have been ball 3, that’s a conscious choice, not an involuntary reflex. Keeping the bat on your shouldn’t isn’t something you need to “learn” how to do, it’s something you need to decide to do. He’s deciding to swing, and apparently Price is fine with that. So the theory that Price is putting him at #2 to help him “learn” how to be a #2 hitter makes no sense to me. What makes more sense to me is that Price has no idea what a good #2 hitter looks like.

    • What are you seeing now….That tells you Billy Hamilton will get on base at a ..335 clip??? When do u acknowledge the obvious…He can’t hit.

    • I view Hamilton and Peraza differently. With Peraza we have only one year of major league data. The jury is still out. Hamilton has over 1600 MLB at bats with an OBP of only .296. Although he improved to .321 last year I am inclined to think Hamilton will never be a good hitter.

  8. Price, is not gonna switch Hamilton or Peraza yet.. A friend pointed out to me that the Reds have scored 99 runs. 4th in MLB.
    So they won’t be droped in order until the teams runs scored drops off.
    Having said that I wanna see one or both dropped to bottom of the order..

  9. The always popular Peraza Pitch Count (TM) on that at-bat: 2

    Would he look at more pitches if he were hitting further down in the lineup? I wonder.

  10. Wonderful atbat by Cozart….criminal that hes not batting 2nd and I used to rail at Price or Dusty for batting Cozart 2nd but he’s a new hitter right now!

  11. Maybe it’s time to stop hoping for a better top of the order and start hoping for a better bottom of the order. If Price won’t move Cozart up, maybe he could be convinced to hit Votto 8th and Suarez 9th. Pitcher and catcher hit 3rd and 4th.

    • Scary to say, but that might be more of a possibility than moving Hamilton Peraza in Dusty Price’s lineup.

  12. Cmon Tucker? You’re better then that! Frigging pathetic!! Runners on 2nd/3rd and the pitcher behind you so you need to expand the plate if you have to…..not take 2 strikes and K????

  13. I don’t watch much baseball other than the Reds. Is there a team in MLB with a lower collective baseball IQ than this one? The lineup construction, players with no sense of when to be aggressive or selective at the plate, base running blunders on a daily basis…. There’s a lot of talent on this team but very little sense of how to use it. Is this the norm in baseball, or are the Reds unusually bad decision makers?

  14. Time for Feldman to get out of the way …. would rather see another young arm in that rotation than continue to watch this guy take up a roster spot. Offers nothing.

    • He is their most consistent starter and leads team in innings, offers a lot in my option, just getting burnt by the triple machine

  15. Losing to the Cubs because you’re outmanned is one thing but Barnhart taking strike 3 with 1 out when Feldman is behind him and runners on 2nd/3rd. Unacceptable!
    Feldman then walking the pitcher with 2 out. Unacceptable! Not to mention his old man reflexes when he can’t stop a worm burner up the middle. Pathetic….1-5 against a team that everyone is handling! You try to find positives with losing another series to the Cubs but then they lay this egg and it looks like another 90 loss season!

  16. Robert Stephenson needs to be sent back down to stay in the minors for an extended period of time. Really disappointing

  17. Bernie Brewer is going to have a rash from all the sliding.

    Miller Park has ranked in the top 10 for HRs as a park factor in each of the last 5 years, twice ranking 1st overall.

    Well on its way to being in the top 10 again in 2017.


    Reds pitchers agree to pitch to Thames in home run contest at all star break……..

  19. This is pretty terrible. Hard to continue to have any belief that Stephenson is a future contributor.

  20. In this season of sorting…Billy Hamilton is failing as a hitter…Robert Stephenson is failing….as pitcher…We are approaching statistical significance

  21. Nice play by Ervin.

    Schebler shudders slightly, watching his replacement in RF.

  22. Billy Hamilton 0-4 with 4 strikeouts. He’s hitting .215. he can’t steal first base.
    He’s never reliably got on base.

    I thought Redlegnation was an advanced analytical baseball destination….Not a fantasy comic book site.

    Are there any other credible sites for reds baseball other than the cartoon delusional Disney pixie dust billy Hamilton site?

  23. Looks like there will be a bunch of our guys to pick on tonight.Billy with 4K’s,Feldman walking 5 and giving up 4 runs and Stephenson giving up 5 runs with 2 homers and getting only 2 outs.I concur with Old School in that we are approaching a time when we fish or cut bait because it is what it is.

    • Way, way too early to give up on Hamilton, who has a history of above-average contributions. Stephenson, on the other hand, has been given several chances and the Reds cannot afford for him to impede starting pitchers like Romano, Castillo, etc.

  24. Billy Hamilton contributed 2.0 WAR in 2015 (considered a solid MLB player)
    He contributed 3.1 WAR in 2016 (considered a good MLB player)

    Almost all of that value in both seasons came from his defense.
    Small sample size and all so far in 2017, but he looks to be the same “all D/no O, 2-3 WAR” in 2017.

    Hamilton is who he is…. a very affordable, cost-controlled player who plays Gold Glove level defense. Batting him 8th or 9th may change the win total by a game or two, at most, but he is far from the biggest problem facing the Reds.

    (The Tigers are screaming for a CF, have been for a decade and their window is closing. Hamilton would be a perfect fit for Detroit, if the Reds are willing to part with him).

    This Billy Hamilton snapshot is sponsored by Disney.

    • There is no doubt a leadoff hitter who can’t get in base is not a Reds problem .

      • Its a problem….prob not as much if he hit 9th but then Peraza doesn’t walk or extend atbats either. The Cubs have the model which started with the 90s Yankees or Red Sox where they just extended atbats and fouled off a ton….drew walks and ran up the pitch count. Cozart had a classic atbat like that off Davies but he’s wasted batting 7th with only Barnhart behind him. Hopefully Price will wake up or play Schebler in CF a few times a week with someone else in RF.

    • You are exactly right. Hamilton is not our most pressing problem. He just seems like it because he is leading off.

    • Agree. Not defending Billy but according to fangraphs he has already earned his $2.6M contract (0.3 WAR). It’s not his fault he is hitting leadoff. Just makes it look worse than it is

      • Not to argue but to defend Billy then you have to defend defensive metrics which is subjective. Hitting .215 and .280 obp is not subjective….thats factual!

  25. If this were the NHL, I’d expose Stephenson to the expansion draft.

    • Stephenson’s BABIP is .429 and his FIP/xFIP are 3.54/3.69. He may not be the ace he was projecting to be but he can still be useful

  26. Billy is not our most pressing problem.Unlike Peraza,Schebler,Duvall.Suarez and Barnhart however this is I believe year 4 for him and that has to come in to play when decision time comes.His defense is great but it may come down to do you pay him for his defense only.I love the guy and really really hope he turns it around.

    • Billy is almost 27 . At what point do you say ok I’ve had enough ? Unfortunately this team will never admit that he is not big league worthy. Yeah defensively he is awesome in center. Offensively he is terrible and kills this team at the plate.

      • Are you actually suggesting that a 3 WAR player is not “big league worthy?”
        Was Ozzie Smith not “BLW” during the first 5 years of his career? What about Dave Concepcion during the BRM era? Should the Orioles remove Paul Blair references from their media guide?

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About Jim Walker Twitter: @jn_walkerjr


2017 Reds


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