2017 Reds / Titanic Struggle Recap

Titanic Struggle Recap: The Reds Are Back, Baby!

Final R H E
Cincinnati Reds (11-13) 5 16 0
St. Louis Cardinals (12-12) 4 8 1
W: Peralta (1-0) L: Rosenthal (0-1) S: Iglesias (4)
FanGraphs Win Probability | Box Score

The Good
–With the Reds down 4-0 in the fifth, Michael Lorenzen came on in relief and promptly gave up a single that put Cardinals at the corners with no outs and an opportunity to put the game out of reach. Lorenzen calmly induced two ground balls, the second of which resulted in a double play, and the Reds were out of the jam.

–The following inning, Adam Duvall doubled and scored on a Scott Schebler single, but the game stood at 4-1 until the top of the seventh. Billy Hamilton led off with a single. After a strikeout and a groundout, Hamilton was at second base with two outs and hope for a comeback was beginning to dwindle in the hearts of Reds fans who have been beaten down over the last couple of weeks.

No worries. Duvall proceeded to do what Duvall does: a double to deep right field that scored Billy. Eugenio Suarez singled Duvall home, and advanced all the way to third on a Yadier Molina necktat error. After a pitching change, Schebler collected his own double to deep right and the game was tied at 4.

–After Wandy Peralta came in and did what Wandy Peralta does — perfect inning, two strikeouts — the Reds took the lead in the top of the eighth. Tucker Barnhart walked, Devin Mesoraco singled, Billy Hamilton walked…and Joey Votto drove in the go-ahead run with a single up the middle.

–After that, Raisel Iglesias did what Raisel Iglesias does: two scoreless innings to pick up his fourth save. I could get used to this. From this point forward, whenever Iglesias gets a one-inning save, it’ll be startling.

–Duvall was 4-5 with three doubles and a single, two runs scored, and an RBI. After hitting .130/.172/.370 over the previous two and a half weeks (as noted by Joel Luckhaupt), Duvall looked locked in today.

–Schebler had five home runs in his five previous games and, while he didn’t hit another today, he certainly continued his hot hitting. Schebs was 3-5 with two doubles and two RBI.

–Votto had a couple of hits (and a great post-game interview; see below). Barnhart had two hits, including a double, and a walk.

–The Reds bullpen — Lorenzen, Drew Storen, Peralta, Iglesias — pitched five scoreless innings, surrendering just three hits and a walk. The relief corps just continues to get the job done. It’s incredible.

The Bad
–Not much to discuss here other than the elephant in the room: Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo was kinda cruising — only one run allowed through four innings — until the bottom of the fifth, when the wheels fell off in a hurry. Single, single, walk, double, and all of a sudden it was 4-0 with no outs. His final line: 4+ innings, 4 runs allowed on five hits and four walks.

Arroyo has stretches where he looks like he looks like the Arroyo of old. For a moment, he makes us believe he can be the Arroyo of old again…and then he has innings where he can’t get anyone out. After five starts, Arroyo is 2-2 with a 7.20 ERA…though, if you want to look at the bright side, you could say that his xFIP is 4.90. Which isn’t great, but it’s better than that hideous ERA.

You have to believe that Arroyo wouldn’t be here if everyone were healthy. I’m still rooting for the old guy, and I always will. But innings like the fifth today are difficult to stomach.

Not-So-Random Thoughts
–I love beating the Cardinals.

–Nice little comeback win. After going down 4-0 early, Reds fans could be forgiven for turning off the television and going outside to enjoy their Sunday afternoon. Those who stuck around saw a fun finish, and a win that the Reds really needed.

–I like having Michael Lorenzen available in the fifth inning. I wish Reds starters didn’t require Michael Lorenzen to pitch in the fifth inning so often.

–There was some discussion about whether manager Bryan Price should have had someone warming up earlier in the fifth inning, when Arroyo almost coughed up the game. Initially, I thought that was unfair criticism. Arroyo had barely thrown 60 pitches when the inning began, and there wasn’t really any hint that he would blow up like he did.

Except that we’ve seen Arroyo fall apart in a hurry before. If Price were really thinking outside the box, as we’ve given him credit for, he’d have had someone ready to go at a moment’s notice in that situation. After all, the Cardinals were getting ready to bat against Arroyo for a third time, and that’s a danger zone for any pitcher…and especially Arroyo.

The bullpen was relatively rested after yesterday’s off-day, though they have thrown a lot of innings so far this year. But if you’re looking for high-leverage spots to get a reliever in there a little sooner, that was one.

So maybe the criticism isn’t unfair. Or maybe it’s unfair to expect Price not to manage like every other manager in that situation.

But the Reds can’t do things like other teams. I hope Price reflects on that moment, and is prepared to play it differently the next time.

–How good has Wandy Peralta been?

–The ol’ Redlegs needed that win to finish off a brutal 1-4 road trip. Now Cincinnati comes home for nine in a row at Great American Ball Park.

–Did I mention that I love it when the Reds beat the Cardinals?

Today’s Tweets

55 thoughts on “Titanic Struggle Recap: The Reds Are Back, Baby!

  1. The bullpen is encouraging.
    Scott Schebler is encouraging. He’s making his breakthrough. Can we see JV/Suarez/Schebler/Duvall 2/3/4/5??

    Can we see Cody Reed get 5 starts in May?

  2. I wouldn’t know how to begin running the numbers, but anecdotally it seems that whomever bats in front of Votto tends to go into a slump. Cozart was red hot and now that he moved up to ahead of Votto he’s cooled down significantly. Maybe just regression to the mean, as he was carrying an unsustainable BABIP, but it’s really uncanny. Has anyone on the Reds batted directly ahead of Votto and done well in that spot? I honestly cannot recall anyone finding success there.

    Should Votto just lead off?

    • I know there isn’t any science to back it up, but I thought the same thing when he whiffed with nobody out and the bases loaded.

    • It may be that pitchers are just more aggressive to the hitter in front of Votto, so they may not have to pitch to him or at least with less people on base. That may not be the reason, but I do think it has to do with pitchers’ strategy with Votto on deck.

    • I think it is mostly that bad hitters hit in front of Votto. If a good hitter was in front of Votto, that hitter would hit good. Because he’s good.

      Sometimes guys go on hot streaks, but none of Cozart, Suarez, or Hamilton are good hitters. They’ve been the preponderance of ABs in front of Votto the last few seasons.

      Cozart, with the mechanical change to his swing, might be better than the past, but we need more than a hot 3 1/2 weeks before I say he’s better than average.

      • Pretty sure you meant Peraza, not Suarez. Suarez is at least a decent hitter, probably a good one, possibly a very good one. Otherwise – Agree.

        • Yep! You got me. I’ve had Eugenio on the brain lately.

          Peraza is the bad hitter. Not Suarez! 🙂

  3. You know what those Joey and Billy laughing themes are really about? Those are the knowing chuckles and cackles of what Bronson is like, new or old. Chad, you astutely pointed out what the Bronson of old can look like when he’s on a roll. You politely omitted what Bronson of old can also look like when he sputters.

    The thing is, we’re going to be see sputtering Bronson way more than rolling Bronson given that he’s 40 and he’s on the twilight of his career. And nobody should be surprised by that. You are correct that we wouldn’t be seeing him in the rotation but for the injuries to the pitching staff. But therein lies the problem. This rebuild is going to sputter like Bronson if we can’t keep some of these young guys healthy enough to continue pitching and improving.

    • All true, except guys like Rookie Davis, Reed, Romano, and Stephenson have to take advantage of their chances and provide quality innings. Yeah, I’d love to see those guys out there ahead of Feldman, Bronson, and Adleman, but they get blown up before the third inning. The bullpen can’t pitch 5-6 innings every night. Bronson himself is aware that he could be pulled out if the rotation any time these guys get it together, but outside of Garrett, no one has provided any innings. Yes, injuries to Desclafani(again), Homer(constantly), and Finnegan have crippled the rotation, but it’s time for these other young guys to grow up. Bronson can’t crack an egg with his so-called fastball, but he’s a battler.

      • But my larger point is that Bronson isn’t providing those innings, at least any more than the rookies are. The young guys are going to have to take their lumps. And they need the opportunity to do so. Exiling Stephenson and Reed to the bullpen and running out Arroyo, Adleman, and to a lesser extent Feldman, accomplishes the opposite result.

        I’m hoping the plan is to stagger opportunities for the young pitchers and that guys like Reed and Stephenson will be given a chance at sticking in the rotation later but this season is all about auditions from my point of view.

      • “Time for these young guys to grow up”? Davis has 3 starts in the big leagues, Reed has 16 games, 11 starts, Romano 1 game..Stephenson, 14 games, 8 starts. Did you think they wouldn’t struggle? As you point out, 3/5 of the expected rotation is, again this year, on the DL…so, really only 2 of the guys that are starting should be starting. I expect to see improvement…not maturity from these guys.

        • Thanks for that, yes. And Romano’s one start was badly affected by two infield errors that significantly added to his pitch count. Would he have been able to go 5 innings without that added burden? Dunno. But it’s one start.

  4. Schebler’s OPS is now higher than Joey’s. Of course, he can’t touch Cozart or Suarez.

  5. “Arroyo had barely thrown 60 pitches when the inning began, and there wasn’t really any hint that he would blow up like he did.” And before there were any outs, the bases were loaded, and Bronson’s up to 80 pitches. I’d think Price has some intimate knowledge of the workings of Arroyo. The walk to Diaz should have been his last pitch of the game.

  6. A big win to break a four series losing streak. On to a nine game home stand with the Pirates, Giants and Yanks.

  7. When the staff gets healthy could Bronson possibly move into the long relief roll? When the young starters get in trouble 3rd or 4th inning bring him in instead of burning lorenzen or one of the better guys. I would really like to see the numbers Bronson has based on pitch counts. Just based on the eye test his last few times out out he has seemed “serviceable” with his first 50 pitches or so, then the wheels fall off. If the reds are adamant about him being in uniform having him get through 3 decent innings in a long relief role with 50 or 60 “quality” pitches may be a possibility.

    • I wouldn’t have thought so before the season, but after watching Arroyo for a month, I think you might be right. If he only has to get through the lineup once, he can possibly still be somewhat effective. So maybe keeping him around as a 2-3 inning reliever in low-leverage situations could be workable.

      Or maybe I’m just grasping, trying to find a way to keep one of my favorite players on the roster as long as possible.

      • Not grasping. As long as Bronson can throw an 85 mph or more fastball to maintain a 19 or 20 mph difference between the fastball and breaking stuff, I think he would be excellent relief for 1 or 2 or maybe 3 innings.
        His stuff isn’t just hard to hit, I think he gets into the heads of opposing batters. Some of them probably have their timing messed for a game or two after Bronson.

    • The biggest question is – why? Why should Bronson Arroyo be given a roster spot when there are so many ‘ready’ young arms waiting for their shot in the minors? I’d rather have just about anyone on the AAA or AA pitching staff step into that long-man role, rather than Bronson Arroyo.

      I get the signing, and thought it was fantastic at the time. But, up until now, Arroyo hasn’t been doing what he was hired to do, and that’s to eat innings to make up for the young guys who can’t do so consistently just yet. But Arroyo, much like those young guys, is lucky to make it past the fifth inning. His spot, as it stands, is being wasted. Why not have Sal Romano go up there and toss five innings instead? Tyler Mahle? Luis Castillo?

      It’s the same deal when thinking about trying to transition him into a 1-2 inning “long relief” guy. Why not have Robert Stephenson and Cody Reed consume these spots, trying to get them more used to going through the full lineup? Why not call up Ariel Hernandez to pitch that 2.1 innings you’d be using 40 year old Bronson Arroyo for? Just doesn’t make any sense, other than nostalgia, to keep him on the team at this point.

      • Maybe because Romano and Mahle and Castillo and Hernandez need more time in the minors? Or because Stephenson and Reed are presumably going to be transitioning into starting roles sooner rather than later?

        I’m not saying Arroyo is the guy. (I’d rather have Feldman in that role.) But people seem to forget that there are a LOT of innings over a full season. Someone has to pitch them, and it’s not unreasonable to think that some of these young pitchers could use more development time in AA/AAA. And some of the other young pitchers are going to be on innings limits as the season progresses. And the Reds have FIVE pitchers on the disabled list right now.

        I get the arguments against Arroyo, and I can’t really counter them, I concede. But it’s not the Reeds and Ariel Hernandez-types who will be pitching those innings, in practice, at least not until they are completely ready. It will be the Tim Adlemans and Daniel Wrights and the other jokers we saw last year.

        • You both have good points. It is injuries that have brought us to the point where we have to see Arroyo and Adleman take a start every 5 days even though no one (including the Reds) intended for that to be the case at the start of the season.

          It’s May 1, so I wouldn’t necessarily be too bent out of shape about the current situation but as we approach June, we need to see more Reed and less Arroyo and more Stephenson (or take your pick of other young pitcher) and less Adleman. There will be enough innings available to get young guys some experience. Thankfully, there should be enough young, worthy arms in the organization to pitch those innings. But the Reds do need to make the transition at some point this year or else push back the competitive window another year.

  8. The only team I like to see the Reds beat more than the Cardinals are the Yankees.

  9. Good to see Duvall putting it together again. With Meso back in business, along with Schebler, Votto, Suarez, Barnhart and Cozart good hitting it’s only a matter of Hamilton and Peraza to figure it out how to get on base, or else.

  10. Schebler with 24 pitches in 5 abs

    Would be best on the team if not for Mesoraco with 12 in 2 abs

    Peraza with 17 is just not good. Even Billy had 21

  11. This team could really be something with just even a little starting pitching. By the numbers:

    Starting pitching ranks:
    Walks 4th most
    strikeouts 24th
    Batting ave. 27th

    Relief Pitching ranks:
    Walks 3rd most
    Strikeouts 1st
    Batting Ave. 6th

    Reds defense ranks 4th in fielding % and 11th in efficiency. This team can pick it!

    Hitting ranks:
    OPS 6th
    OBP 18th
    SLG 4th

    The numbers jive with the eye test, yes?

    Personally, I think the Reds can contend for a wild card but they clearly need starting pitching and better OBP for the long haul. To that end, what would you guys say to packaging Hamilton (injury risk, weak OBP) plus prospects for a starting pitcher? Ervin and his good OBP takes over in center with Schebler/Peraza filling in occasionally. The rotation could be

    Garrett
    trade acquisition
    Feldman
    Romano/Stephenson/Mahle
    Finnegan

    Disco and Homer by July.

    With so much parity in the NL, I’d just hate to see this team get robbed of their chance to play meaningful baseball in September.

    • I would say nobody is going to trade us a decent starter for Hamilton but Colorado might be the one team that makes sense. The outfielders need to cover a county in their ballpark and the outfielders have to play so deep that every bloop and half the grounders thru the infield might be doubles for Billy. They could try to fix the rotation in-house if they moved Lorenzen or Peralta back to starting! They’ve got enough arms to handle the setup roles. Hernandez is throwing 100mph and no righties are going to hit that curveball!

      As far as meaningful baseball in September? I doubt it but they need to keep the assembly line rolling and move Mahle, Romano, Castillo, and Hernandez up the ladder! Hernandez is already 25 so what are they waiting on? Get him up to AAA and go from there!

      • I am not sure if S.F. thinks they can still contend or not. If so there OF is a mess. They could use Hamilton. I don’t see Colorado needing him. Cargo, Blackmon and they are about to get Dahl back from d.l. soon.

    • The big problem with this is the idea of selling low on Billy Hamilton. Of course, it all depends what is offered, but Billy is worth having for his defense.

      Hopefully the rise of Ervin and Winker may put some pressure on Billy into hitting better? Definitely could have a similar situation in outfield as we were/are having with middle infield logjam. A good problem for Reds to have and proof of strong rebuilding of minor league system and offensive depth.

      • Maybe what we see out of Billy at bat is what he is and no pressure from Winker, Ervin, or anyone else, can change that. Just a guess but he has over 1600 major league at bats (I think I read that) and I’m not seeing any significant improvement in his approach.

        • I think you’ve pretty much hit it on the button. Hamilton has a lot of value, particularly defensively. He would start on my team in CF and bat 9th. I’d love to see him get on base more because he would provide even more value if he could get on base.

  12. I’m so happy the Cards are paying so much to necktat.

    He hits for a decent average, but that’s it — he has absolutely no power, and he’s at the bottom of the pack in OBP and SLG.

    And, defensively, he’s still a little above average, but nowhere near enough to make up for the weak offense.

    I’m glad they hitched their boat to this anchor for two more years!

    • Did you see the Chris Coughlan highlight last week where he dove over the top of Molina and landed on home to score a run? That was 5 times more awesome because he did it to Yadi!

    • He’s got help behind him too but they need to get people on base for him as well! I really wonder how long Cozart can keep this up? He’s drawing walks and spraying the ball around like a lifetime .290 hitter!

  13. What I find frustrating is that Arroyo even in his current state is as good or better than anybody else the Reds have used as a starter except Garrett. Yeah, Finnegan and Feldman had a good start or two but overall they haven’t really been enough better to rate as more reliable.

    I am on board that a pitcher’s won/ lost record is not a very good measure of his performance. However when a team consistently wins the games started by a particular pitcher, it is an indicator he is pitching well enough to keep his team in the game and give them a shot at winning. The Reds have won Arroyo’s last three starts; and, those three wins are the only wins by the team over the period they happened. Again, not that Arroyo is doing well, just that nobody else is doing as well him from the team point of view of matching up with the opponent and keeping the team in the game. .

    • All I know is that if they keep running Arroyo, Rookie, and Adleman out there in the rotation then we’ll be 10+ games out by early June and worse yet….learned nothing about Reed, Romano, Mahle, etc.

    • It would be interesting to see the team’s W-L record for each starter become a more used stat, I would think this could be slightly more useful than the current W-L for starters. Of course, it wouldn’t be as predictive as something like FIP or SIERA, but would be interesting to see more often.

      • I’m guess that contrary to FIP and SIERA which try to evaluate how a pitcher performed exclusive of the team playing defense behind him or park(s) he pitched in that the analytic guys working for teams have or are working to develop algorithms which project how a pitcher is likely to perform for their team specifically based on defense and the (at least) home venue.

      • People knock the “quality start” stat for setting a low bar… but I’d rather emphasize that over any kind of “W” and “L.” Personally, I like quality start well enough. If you have gone 6 IP and 3 or less runs, you’ve probably kept your team in the game. This team would kill for a QS right about now. Especially with how the bullpen is running.

        I think people are looking for a similar kind of sense out of the W and L (do you do well enough to put the team in position to win), but quality starts are less prone toward the limitations of W/L counts (e.g., did the offense decide to show up today or not?).

        • The problem with QS (and most pitcher counting stats) is that it just doesn’t give enough info.

          A 6IP, 3ER performance is significantly worse than a 7 1/3 IP, 2 ER performance. But both guys got 1 QS.

          Strike guys out, don’t walk guys, keep the ball on the ground as much as possible (thus limiting home runs). Do these things and you’ll excel more often than not.

          • Absolutely there are limitations… just think it at least tells a little more than W/L does if someone is looking for a “quick grab” (because XFIP is going to take a looong time to become a “quick grab” stat, if ever). I’m settling for anything that moves us a little away from “but he didn’t get the win!”

            As I believe Steve Mancuso used to point out in the past, even though we don’t get the information about 7IP vs 6IP, etc, it’s not as though people really pile up QS based on meeting just the bare minimum every time. I think it offers a decent thumbnail while realizing only a deeper dive can tell more.

          • I think what it can show is consistency in a starter. Really, that’s what it’s probably best at predicting. A high QS% tells me that a pitcher is generally keeping his team in games and he isn’t prone to total meltdowns very often.

        • Yeah, I like the quality start stat too, I forgot about it when I was thinking of this stat. Looks like we got one finally, this time from Garrett tonight!

    • This would be a dubious exercise in the case of Arroyo. He’s exited early in each of those wins. So the credit (such as it is) for the win lies with the rest of the team and particularly the excellent bullpen performance and not with Arroyo. Right now, with a sample size of 3 games (and based on what we witnessed from Arroyo in each of those games, with the possible exception of his performance against the Cubs) we can conclude only that the Reds have been lucky to win any of those games.

      • I’m looking at things holistically. Given the Reds pen, if a pitcher can make two turns through the lineup without getting totally lit up, the team has a chance to win most games precisely because of the bullpen they have.

        I’m not saying that twice through is good enough or should be a standard, just that for this team it seems to be enough; but, they don’t even have the horses to that consistently.

        Personally, I’d rather see Reed and Stephenson sent to the mound every 5 days instead of being wasted away .like they are now. Adelman would be one guy I’d drop from the rotation to make room for this. I’d probably send Davis by to AAA for the other slot.

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