2017 Reds / Titanic Struggle Recap

Batting Practice and a Walkoff, or another Bronson Arroyo start

“This is the kind of pitcher that if you’re in a slump, can get you out of it…it’s a good practice day.” — Phillies’ announcer Gregg Murphy about Reds starter Bronson Arroyo

On a good day, Bronson Arroyo’s fastball brushes 85 mph. He can maybe rear back and get it up to 86 or 87 as Fangraphs claims, but I’ve yet to see it happen. Against the Rockies in his last start, Arroyo served up four home run balls, taking an early exit after 5.1 innings of six-run baseball. He’s had a magnificent career only matched by his personality, but at this point in his baseball life, Bronson Arroyo is nothing more than batting practice.

After the second of today’s three solo shots off of Arroyo, Gregg Murphy announced that today was a day for the Phillies to bust out of their slumps. That batting against Arroyo would force them to focus on their mechanics and “see ball, hit ball” as it were. Michael Saunders, 2 for his last 25, did just that in the second inning, putting an Arroyo fastball in the second deck. Cesar Hernandez too, launching his fifth home run of the season as the leadoff man in the first. Tommy Joseph apparently broke a record with his dinger in the fourth:

In the end, Arroyo didn’t supply the final nail to the Reds downfall as the Phillies walked off against Michael Lorenzen with a 4-3 win over the Reds, dropping the good guys to two games below .500. Let me know when the Reds stop paying to roll out a pitching machine every fifth day.

Cincinnati Reds 3 | Philadelphia Phillies 4 | Zack Cozart MVP

The Good

—Zack Cozart had himself some kind of day, continuing his absurd tear to start the season. Cozart nearly hit for the cycle, finishing 4-4 with two singles, a double, a homer, and a walk. Potentially unrelated, but the last time I wrote a game recap, Billy Hamilton was just a home run away from the cycle so maybe I’m some kind of savant or good luck charm?

Can’t say I was alive when Eric Davis was around so maybe not. On the season, Cozart is now hitting .355/.433/.592, which means he should be starting the All Star Game. There’s no other option. #VoteCozart

—Billy Hamilton had a tough day at the plate, only notching one hit, but boy was it a beaut. Bunting just down the third baseline to lead off the game, Hamilton then stole second for his 26th of the year before Cozart launched a high fastball deep.

Hamilton tried the trick again in the ninth, but the bunt went pretty much right back to the pitcher, bringing Cozart up with two outs already.

—Eugenio Suarez got the rally that tied the game started with a hard single and a crafty stolen base. Without the swipe of second, Scooter Gennett’s double wouldn’t have brought home the tying run.

—Two solid innings from Austin Brice today. Faced the minimum and punched out the first guy he faced with three perfectly placed strikes. Aaron Altherr never even lifted the bat off his shoulder.

The Bad

—I hate to put Joey Votto in this category because he did have a decent albeit unlucky day, but his strikeout with Cozart on first in the top of the ninth cemented his fate. Joey battled to a HBP on an 0-2 in the first, a walk on a full count in the second, put a lazer up the middle that the Phillies pitcher caught for a double play, and hit another line drive to Freddy Galvis at short that Galvis made a wonderful play on. All told, Joey should’ve been 2-3 today, but sometimes the universe is a cruel, cruel place.

—Billy gets double duty in this recap because he went down swinging with the go-ahead runs on second and third. His goal should’ve just been choke up, put it on the ground, and hope he beats it out. Instead a long, loopy swing killed a rally for the Reds.

—Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler, the Twins* as I call them, have been spectacular for the Reds this season. Today, both of them seemed lost and confused on the baseball diamond, unaware of what this slender piece of lumber was in their hands and what they should do with it.

*Duvall and Schebler need a better nickname, but Bash Bros has been taken. Any ideas?

—Michael Lorenzen has been a good-to-great reliever for the Reds this year. Today was not his day.

Not So Random Thoughts

—This loss should sting more than most because the Reds absolutely played the better game today. They put together runs, played fairly flawless defense, and kept at the Phillies from the first through the ninth. However, you hang an 84 mph again and again, and a Major League hitter will take you up on the offer.

—That said, I did see a glimpse of what Arroyo can offer in the bottom of the fifth when he K’d Cesar Hernandez with a runner on third and one out. The count at 3-2, Arroyo ditched the fastball and went with all his breaking stuff and arm angles to get Hernandez to get himself out. Eventually, a sidearm curveball? (maybe slider) caused Hernandez to fly open and reach for it. The runner ended up stranded at third after an Odubel Herrara pop-out ended the inning.

—The Reds and Phillies wore camo jerseys to honor veterans for Memorial Day. As a quick reminder, Memorial Day is Monday. Not to say that honoring veterans is bad because it truly never is, but also:

—For some reason I watched this game with the Phillies broadcasters and let me tell you, they are the worst. I’ve always loved John Kruk from his time on Baseball Tonight, but apparently give him a fandom and some local airtime and you end up with some of the worst old-school thought I’ve ever heard. Examples:

  • Advocating for throwing up and in on Votto and Cozart because they were hitting too well.
  • Calling Votto choking up “cheating” and saying anyone could hit well that way.
  • Openly questioning why Schebler is hitting sixth despite his sub-.250 batting average because he has 28 RBIs.
  • Getting everyone’s name wrong, from mispronouncing Eugenio, to calling Tim Adleman “Tyler,” to spelling Cozart “Cosart.”
  • Oh, and outside the booth, there’s this:

If it weren’t for Gregg Murphy, I probably would’ve muted the whole enterprise. Philadelphia sports are the worst.

43 thoughts on “Batting Practice and a Walkoff, or another Bronson Arroyo start

  1. That home run breaks Bronson Arroyo’s streak of seven batters without allowing a home run.

    That has to be the best tweet of all time

  2. Mike Schmidt was in the booth today too. I wasn’t impressed either.

    Kruk’s comment about choking up was kinda said tongue in cheek. As if everybody that choked up could hit .300

  3. Shebler & Duvall: Trash Heap Trade Return Brothers, Secondary Trade Acquisition Brothers, California Hustlers (both came from LA teams), Uncle Walt’s Secret Weapons, Shades (Duvall’s Sunglasses) & Blades (Shebler’s mouthpiece) Billy’s Bodyguards.

    Those are all pretty cringe worthy 🙂

  4. Have to disagree with the characterization of Duvall’s day as bad. He put good wood on the ball his first 2 ABs and got nothing to show for it.

    In the 1st he he a line drive which as caught in the gap. His second time up he hit a hard skipping grounder that Galvis picked after it was seemingly by him and spun around to get a force play at 2B. If the ball goes into the outfield, it scores Cozart who was on 2nd at the time. All in all Galvis’ play on this ball was a much more outstanding play than his pick of Votto’s humpback liner later in the game

    • No question…this was a game that can be characterized as ‘that’s the way the ball bounces’. The Reds bats were making solid contact throughout the game with minimal positive results. It happens. Even with the stiffling of the offense, this was a winnable game and that speaks an emormity to the need for better starting pitching.

      • True. Galvis appeared initially to misread it and almost misplayed it by taking the big leap. As it turned out, I think he could have caught it by just springing a bit off his tip toes or maybe even just reaching above his head.

    • Noteworthy also on that play was how hard Duvall ran–he’s faster than one would assume, and doesn’t quit.

  5. 3 runs in 5 innings isn’t bad for this rotation. 0 chance the Reds are going to the playoffs this year (or next year) so why waste your service on players that can continue their development cycle at a lower level? Also for those clamoring for Lorenzen, Wojo, Iglesias, Cingrani, Stephenson to be starting in the rotation it isn’t going to happen. There is an entire organization weighing in on what these arms are capable of and not a single voice. There are reasons for the bullpen and current starting 5. I don’t know all the answer and I certain am not impressed with our 5 man rotation but I can at least see a legit case for each of these guys being where they are at right now. Come September the cast will be completely different. But all the whining and complaining isn’t going to make your opinion sound better or be chosen over what the Reds are currently doing. I have heard many GMs around baseball praise the efforts that the Reds are doing. I think that has more weight than you wanting to see Stephenson and Lorenzen in the starting rotation.

    • I doubt if any Reds fan feels his or her opinion is going to take precedent over the many GM’s that you have heard are in favor of the Red’s front office position regarding the starting rotation. But that doesn’t negate the right of the fan to express their opinion on this blog.

  6. A lot of people liked the idea of signing Arroyo as a possible “innings eater” during the off season. Nothing to lose, was the theory. Everytime in the past decade plus when management and their media lackeys mentions innings eater it translates to something like a clownish 5+ ERA with mediocre record. The whole innings eater concept needs to be put to bed, its an excuse for management to spend less money or deny a young pitcher a shot… it worked out once with Alfredo Simon but than backfired with him 2 years later. The next time I hear someone say so-and-so might serve as an innings eater I am going to go ballistic.

    • The Old Cossack was one of those ‘lot of people’. There were two reasons for my support of signing Arroyo to a minor league contract.

      I thought Arroyo had the skills to be effective as an aging pitcher. His experience and demonstrated ability to pitch rather than throw gave him a chance to buck the odds after a two year layoff. Other teams had paid for those two years and the small investment for the minor league contract was well worth the risk.

      I was hopeful that with WJ’s exodus and DW taking the reins, the organization’s over-reliance and over-commitment to aging, non-productive, long-past-marginally- talented veterans was behind us. If Arroyo did manage to earn a spot on the 25-man roster, he would have a very short leash to demonstrate he had something left in the tank.

      I was wrong on both counts. Arroyo never earned his place on the 25-man roster. It was handed to him without even a productive spring training. His performance since the beginning of the season has demonstrated that age and injuries have claimed another victim. Unfortunately, the organization, sans WJ at the helm, continues with the same over-reliance and over-commitment to such players after extending a minimal minor league or major league contract to sign them and not having the kahunas to terminate the failed experiment.

      • I hear ya Cossack, and your the last guy on here I would insult, 99% of the time your right on the money, and in this case taking a flyer on Arroyo was no big deal, but like you said management seems to make concrete decisions without the follow-up evaluation so critical to minimizing the damage in the long term. Anyhow, don’t get me wrong I loved Arroyo back in 2006 when I attended many games, he was the real deal and kept us in the hunt pitching deep into games on a regular basis. Taking a flyer is no big deal but when innings eater translates to 2 months of ineptitude management needs to be held accountable… so much young talen can be tried out once the experiment fails, I just don’t get it… but I think really they don’t expect this year to be the year so they are just toying around… but that is an insult to the fans paying good money hoping for a miracle.

        • Arroyo isn’t, at this point, a formidible starting pitcher, but it is worth noting that his starts have been well in line with those of the other, harder-throwing starters. Except that he doesn’t walk a lot of hitters and strikes out a surprising number. He has little margin for error, of course, but the problem in my eyes is hanging breaking balls more than 84mph fastballs. He seems to be a special target of vitriol at RLN, often preceded by “..I loved him back in the day, but…,” when, in reality, he hasn’t been an outlier in the rotation. He probably shouldn’t be a starting pitcher, but neither should any of the other starters, and somebody has to until the walking wounded are healed.

          • Exactly correct! It’s nice to read some clear thinking on the site – rather than obvious “put someone better in there”. It’s as if there’s an endless supply of “better”. There isn’t!
            There will be in time, but injuries, youth and inexperience have created a less than ideal situation. But what can Reds management do? There aren’t magically more arms – every team covets them and they command a high dollars or prospects.
            We’re forced to wait and hope that our big guns recover. We’re forced to wait while our young guys learn how to pitch (Garrett, Stephenson, Romano, Castillo, etc.). And we’re forced to wait for the intermediate arms to handle full season workloads (Lorenzen & Iglesias). They will get there chance if they can hold up.
            Meanwhile, a pretty good hitting club that plays solid defense is unfolding in front of our eyes. I’m all for enjoying this group and if we can stay near .500, maybe we’ll get a taste of pennant race as the pitching heals/improves.

  7. You guys are all dead wrong on Arroyo. He will be DFA material once one of our injured players returns. I don’t know if he will be the first or the last but he won’t be there come September. Look we have so many injuries it is going to complicate the 40 man roster once folks start coming off the 60 day DL. Arroyo will be around until about that time. Would you rather lose a younger more valuable player because they are forced to be dfa’ed once Bailey, Finnegan, Disco are healthy?

      • If your trying to be competitive maybe you sacrifice one year on one youngster, take your pick. Garrett looked pretty good, why not trot him out while he was hot instead of cool him off with a ridiculous demotion while keeping Arroyo and his 82MPH fastball going? Does that make sense if you are playing to win this year? No so they gave up early despite a good offense showing and that is a shame. They need to adapt, the Cubs were cold the division is up for grabs , play a card and give away a year of control.

        • Going into this season we already knew they were not going to be competitive. That is by design. Anything that implies otherwise is to sell tickets. I was anticipating a 100 loss season so from my vantage point they are playing way above expectations. 2018…. I am anticipating an 80 game winning team. 2019…. 100.

          • Simon, so were the Twins. Look what happens when you try.
            So were the Yankees, look what happens when you let young guys play.
            So were the Brewers.

            2 years ago, when the reboot started, the plan was to be ready by 2017. Here we are. Sometimes, things don’t go according to plans and you win early.

          • Sometimes things don’t go according to plan and 3/5th of your starting rotation is on the DL. There’s no easy fix for that. Trading for starting pitchers (plural, because it will take more than one) would weaken the Reds now and in the future and would be particularly short-sighted because the better starters in the organization aren’t gone, they’re just temporarilly (we fervently hope) unavailable. I’d probably favor giving the young guys more opportunity, but I doubt that it would change the results we’re seeing by much, and I also can’t pretend to know whether throwing them into the fire is good for their long-term development. The Reds are much better, even with woeful starting pitching, than most of us expected, and this is causing angst and frustration. But that’s a good thing, much better than hopeless resignation.

          • Green – So start young guys so you don’t have to “sort” again next year with these starters. Nobody is talking about trading prospects for a starter.

          • Varedsfan: Yeah, that might be the way to go, but the young guys are young and far from finished in their development so there would probably still need to be sorting because they will (hopefully) change as they mature. And it may be, in the cases of Stephenson and Reed, particularly, that they really aren’t ready to be in the rotation until they learn better command. It’s a tough situation and one I’m glad I don’t have to solve.

  8. Kruk has always been a PoS commentator. Always hated him, always mute him. I loathe when the Reds are on ESPN because of garbage like him.

    • I think Kruk gets it. Throw up and in. Choke up—he is basically saying Joey Votto is the man. I think he is great. I would much rather listen to him than Thom Brennaman.

  9. Hard game to watch.

    Oh, and you don’t honor veterans on Memorial Day … you honor veterans who died in service. Minor point, but …

    • I agree lorenzen is not very dependable out of bullpen,would flip him and Arroyo,at least Arroyo doesn’t really allow big innings

    • To come to Lorenzen’s defense: Only 5 times in 21 appearances has he hurt the Reds chances of winning in terms of WPA. He’s up 0.59 on the season even after the -0.36 disaster that was yesterday, and he’s generally only pitching in medium to high leverage situations. It may not be clean in the sense that he’s going three up, three down, but he’s getting the job done in a big way.

  10. I said during the game that Bronson will be going out there every 5th day until somebody says that’s it.I thought at one time he would give it up himself rather then continue to be embarrassed but it appears he nor the team cares about that.It will end soon enough but it didn’t have to be this way.He could have been flipped to the long man role and somebody else moved to start for the first half of the year or till others return from being injured.One other thing plays in to this is that the whole rotation has got hammered at one time or another so his performance just falls in line with the rest.He doesn’t stand out as being the worst he just stands out as being an old guy with nothing left in the tank.He will be forgotten until his next start and it will go on and on.

    • Agree. He was put on the team as a marketing ploy. Get butts in the seats because everybody loves Bronson. Everybody who has a clue knew it was wrong at the beginning.

  11. I viewed the other sight and Bronson is talking about missing his spot with the fast ball and when he does they make him pay.He also said when he hits it then they do like everybody else does and ground out to shortstop.Went on to say that solo homers are better then two or three run shots.All of this is the company line he has been told to say.Sad stuff to me but it is was it is.

    • He says the same thing after every start. Why even interview him. Just use the clip from the previous start. I think he gets more interviews and face shots than the whole team combined. Sad when they consider him one of the all time greats in Reds pitching. That just tells me the starting pitching has sucked since I started watching in 1969.

      • Who is the “they” that “considers him one of the all time greats in reds pitching?” Just curious, thank you.

  12. I nominate Duvall and Schebler to be labeled “The Throw-Ins”, as they were neither labeled the centerpiece of their trades (Mella & Peraza, respectively)

  13. I think the best thing from this game is that we have finally arrived at the point about being able to speak positively about our Redlegs even when they lose!

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