Big League Ready

Checking in on the Struggling Masses

The Reds haven’t exactly played well since our last edition and it seems like a good time to simply run down the line and look at how stock is rising and falling and what might be there to take the place of someone struggling. There’s much more uncertainty with the pitchers than the position players because none of them are even remotely established.

Pitchers

Amir Garrett – Amir absolutely exploded during his last start. Don’t worry. It happens, but he bounces back. On August 4th, last year, he had a start in Louisville where he went 0.2 innings with 4 walks, a HBP, 0 Ks, and 3 runs. Sound familiar? Well, in his next start, this was his line – 7 ip, 7 Ks, 0 BB, 2 runs. He adapts and adjusts, but isn’t a completely finished product yet. Anyway, relax. He’ll be fine and isn’t going anywhere. Status: Very safe

Cody Reed – Well, he’s safe in the bullpen, at least. Reed is becoming a bit of an enigma. He pitched well in Louisville as a starter. He’s lights out in the bullpen, but seems utterly helpless whenever given a chance to start for the Reds. I understand the various criticisms of Reed, but they don’t explain why he can get at least once through the order out of the pen, but not at the start of the game. In any case, he seems to be a good bet to stay on the team, though one wonders how many chances he’ll get to start before he’s permanently assigned to the bullpen. Status: Safe

Robert Stephenson – Not as bad as he’s been so far is the best we can say about him. Yes, at 24, he’s still young. But he hasn’t had the kind of success you want a prospect to have since A-ball. That’s a lot of mediocre and, at the big-league level, bad. I can’t imagine he gets that much more time before he’s sent down to try and figure out how to throw strikes. Status: Lucky lots of pitchers are hurt

Rookie Davis – There are some injury issues here, so it’s hard to tell if we’re looking at performance or health. It would be reasonable to say that Davis was “rushed” to the big leagues faster than anyone else who’s started for the team this year. And of course, he had to pitch to Eric Thames, which really isn’t fair. Still, it hasn’t been good for Davis so far this year. He probably gets at least a few more chances simply because the Reds aren’t overflowing with options at the moment, but eventually, more pitchers will be healthy and he’s going to have to put up some good starts to stay with the team. Status: Lucky lots of pitchers are hurt.

 

Position Players

Jose Peraza – The best thing Peraza has going for him right now is that Herrera isn’t hitting in AAA. That said, Peraza would have to be very bad for quite a while before it would approach time to look at someone else. Also he’s still super, super young – even compared to the young pitchers – and has already had a decent showing in the majors. Status: Safe.

Adam Duvall – I would like to apologize to Redleg Nation. A while ago, I tweeted that Adam Duvall was starting to make me a believer. He then went straight into the tank and is currently sitting on a .224/.268/.500 line. The slugging percentage will keep him afloat, and he’s certainly in no danger of losing his job tomorrow because sample size matters, but that looks a lot like the Duvall who had me worried last season. Status: Safe for now.

Scott Schebler – .186/.269/.443. Yes, of course, in only 78 PAs, but still. That line doesn’t cut it at all. Especially for a right fielder. Schebler played himself out of a job last year, and he might do it this year, too. Jesse Winker has already gotten a cup of coffee and is currently hitting .291/.379/.364 in AAA AND is three years younger than Schebler. You want more power from Winker, but if Schebler doesn’t get it together, he’ll eventually lose his job even is Winker treads water. Status: Should glance over his shoulder

23 thoughts on “Checking in on the Struggling Masses

  1. Can anyone comment on the following lineup positions? First, why is Cozart is still hitting the 7th spot when his OBP could be better utilized hitting in front of Votto? I know Hamilton and Peraza have speed, but without getting on base at a minimally decent rate, they are useless at the top the order. Second, why not move Suarez to 4th right behind Votto? Duvall is so inconsistent it’s no wonder they pitch around Votto or simply walk him with runners on.

    • I agree with you, especially in the case of Suárez batting 4th. Check out Mark Sheldon’s Reds Inbox on MLB.com today for an explanation on Hamilton and Peraza at the top of the lineup.

    • I’d try Suarez 4th, too, but I think that they’d still pitch around Votto.

      • From Votto’s mouth, the only “protection” he’s ever had comes when Billy is on base. More fastballs, he claimed. I always thought that was an interesting point of view.

        Eno Sarris, who interviews Votto every spring training, once asked him about protection and he said something like “Who is going to protect me? Babe Ruth?” Also very interesting, since the idea of protections has to do with how afraid a pitcher is of Hitter A in relation to Hitter B. People will be more afraid of Votto than any other Red, so the idea of true protection won’t happen with Vottto, I’d say.

    • Peraza is getting as many looks and at bats as they can give him right now to see if he has potential to be a long term solution at 2B or SS. It isn’t Price being stupid… It is the Reds wanting to get him as many at bats as possible. Same thing as Hamilton. Now if the REds were seriously in competitive baseball then of course they wouldn’t be there. But the 2 to 3 wins that altering the lineup would generate over a season doesn’t hold as much value as giving 2 young players more at bats each game.

  2. In fairness, Schebler’s line is up to .203/.280/.527, with an .807 OPS after yesterday’s game, which is quite comparable to Duvall’s .228/.279/.532 line with an .811 OPS. They also both have an identical 110 OPS+ right now, and Schebler has been hot over the last few games while Duvall has continued to struggle. Right now, I would have listed them both with the same status, though both of them do need to perform better (or continue to perform like he has in the last few games, in the case of Schebler) because Winker will likely be ready sometime this year, and the one with worse numbers at that time will lose their starting spot.

    • I think Duvall gets a longer leash due to the season he had last year. Duvall is safe for the year, unless Ervin and Winker are both hitting .400 in AAA.

      • I think you’re mostly right, though if Duvall’s slugging drops any more and doesn’t go back up, I doubt he gets a full season. He has to remain at least a league-average hitter overall to keep his job (probably).

      • If their numbers are close, Duvall might get the edge because of last year. But if it’s a big difference, I don’t think last year would save him.

    • I checked this afternoon, too. FanGraphs was slow to update for some reason, it seems.

  3. I think in the case of Reed, most of his problems as a starter are mental. Maybe he puts more pressure on himself as a starter, or maybe he just doesn’t have the confidence as a starter yet. Also, to be fair, he did have to face the Cubs in his only start, which is far from an easy task. Perhaps he would have had a better start if he faced, say, the Pirates or Cardinals instead.

  4. I’m unhappy with the way both Stephenson and Reed are being (mis)used currently.

    If one of them is now on a career track to be a reliever send him to AAA and let him work like a real reliever instead of trying to choose low to zero leverage slots to spot him into MLB games once or twice a week.

    If they are being used as they are to save starter innings for later in the year then send them to AAA and let them start regularly but keep them on strict innings and pitch counts to preserve them for later on.

    The way they are being used now is accomplishing nothing; witness Reed’s 2106 like meltdown once he got the ball as a starter despite having a been mediocrely decent as a reliever.

  5. What the Reds offense needs is additional on base capacity and OPS. The elephant in the corner of the room that none of us want to think about is that if BHam’s offense doesn’t pick up, the Reds may need to reduce him to a part time role and go with a starting outfield of Duvall, Schebler, and Winker.

    • Jim, Not sure why you say “..none of us want to think about…”. Hamilton is a great defender in CF and a terror on the basepaths, albeit injury prone. A lot of us (the Old Cossack definitely included) were putting stock in Hamilton’s 2nd half performance last season, but alas, that’s looking like another sample size outlier for Hamilton.

      The issue may become a choice, but the Old Cossack is already girding the old loins for the OF defense you just identified. The Reds can certainly carry one starting, defense-only, regular position player in an up-the-middle position, but I don’t think they can afford to carry two starting, defense-only, regular position players. Peraza and Hamilton both look like defense only players to thyis point, but the Reds have time before a decision needs to be made regarding their starting status.

      If the time for such a decision does come around, then the Reds may need to make a decision between moving Hamilton to a utility role or pursuing a trade to move Hamilton in return for a more valuable player than a utility Billy Hamilton. I think there are teams out there who would salivate with the prospect of Hamilton patrolling CF for their offensively loaded teams.

      • And here I thought I was going to be the first one to suggest they try to trade Billy Hamilton when they call up Jesse Winker.

        • I’ll go one better…

          How about a four-way battle for the starting OF between Winker, Ervin, Duvall and Schebler? I could see a lineup with Winker hitting in the #1 hole and Ervin hitting in the #2 hole (not while Price is managing, but…), with the odd man out taking over the OF utility role or a possible Duvall/Schebler platoon in RF. If you want to really blow Price’s mind, put a LF platoon of Duvall & Winker and a RF platoon of Schebler & Ervin with Winker or Ervin hitting in the #1 hole, Votto in the #2 hole and Suarez in the #3 hole, assuming Hamilton is still playing CF and hitting in the #9 hole.

          • Duvall and Winker in the corners. Schebler and Ervin platoon and play CF. Get a good trade return for Hamilton.

        • Hamilton probably doesn’t have tons of value because of the same offensive deficiencies that we are seeing. He does have value though and a decent return could probably be had from a team with a big OF with lots of real estate to cover out there. A team playing in a park like that could get maximum value out of Hamilton’s defense.

          • Oh, say a team like those Dodgers who have a pretty big OF and have struggling OFers everywhere.
            Maybe time to revisit some Puig talk? New scenery for both Puig and BHam. BHam, and Duvall go to LA for Puig.
            Puig in RF, Winker in LF and Schebler and Ervin in CF and backing up all 3 OF pots.

      • I can’t defend Billy’s hitting skills now, but this season to date is a smaller sample size than the 2nd half of last season.

  6. wouldn’t you rather use BHamilton as a supersub – 6th inning on as a defensive substitute when the reds are winning, perhaps as part of a double switch so Price doesn’t overuse his bullpen unnecessarily (somebody please send BP back to DoubleSwitch 101 remedial class) or to enter the game as a pinch runner if the score is within two runs either way from the fifth or sixth inning forward…increasing the chances of scoring fairly significantly during high leverage situations. There is great value in a player with BH’s skill set even if it is not as a starter, he can be a supersub via defense and baserunning.

    • That would all depend on what kind of a return in trade the Reds could get. I don’t think anyone is even considering giving Hamilton away for salary relief, even though Hamilton is entering arbitration. I would be all for keeping Hamilton as a utility supersub to replace Alcantara on the bench if the Reds can’t receive good value in a trade. The one problem with keeping Hamilton in a bench role is his inability to hit or get on base. He would be taking one of the 4 available bench roles and his only value would be as a pinch runner or late inning defensive replacement. The removes an option option for a pinch hitter, leaving only 3 pinch hitters available.

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