Exceeding expectations is the theme of the first two months of the Reds 2017 season, with a subplot of young players showing improvement and maturity in their approaches at the plate.

He’s not starting today, but one of the most pleasant surprises has been catcher Devin Mesoraco. After missing essentially the last two seasons with various hip and shoulder injuries, it was expected that his road back to being the player he was in 2014 (.273 average, 25 homers, 80 RBI) would be a long and difficult one. Many questioned whether he’d ever come close to his form of three seasons ago, both defensively and offensively.

It’s still very early, but the eyeball test results indicate Mesoraco is making solid contact on a pretty regular basis, and he has had moments of defensive prowess, like this one last night.

Presuming there are no physical setbacks and Mesoraco continues to approach his 2014 play both offensively and defensively, here is an interesting question to ponder: Is Devin Mesoraco a member of the next good Reds team?

If we’re all honest with ourselves, very few of us in Redleg Nation truly believed Mesoraco would be a factor moving forward. We heard about what an impediment the kind of shoulder surgery he endured can be to regaining the swing he had previously. And of course, you can’t really count on a catcher who has had surgeries on both hips to successfully resume squatting more than 100 times per game in more than 100 games per season? Can you?

He is under contract through 2018 at what would be a very bargain rate ($7 million per season) if he even comes close to his 2014 performance this year and next. Already this season his WAR is 0.6, and his wRC+ is 117. Extrapolating his WAR over the remainder of the year to 1.8, that would put his value at somewhere between $13 and $16 million.

He’s only 28 years old, just when most players are expected to be entering their “prime” years. It’s fair to say that Mesoraco’s future is an interesting question for Dick Williams and his staff. Could he be a prime trade chip for prospects or even starting pitching help? Or do they try to extend him for a few more years in hopes of catching lightning in a hopefully injury-free bottle? Would Mesoraco give a bit of a discount since he has been paid $14 million in the past two years for essentially little to no production?

You also have Tucker Barnhart, who is above-average both offensively and defensively among starting major league catchers. Most of us in Redleg Nation assumed Barnhart would get us through the next two to four years before someone like Tyler Stephenson or Chris Okey arrives.

Mesoraco is one of many Reds who have exceeded expectations in the first third of the 2017 season. If he keeps it up, it gives the front office many scenarios to ponder that it probably didn’t expect. Many of us in Redleg Nation were thinking Mesoraco would simply play out his contract with some combination of additional injury and minimal effectiveness. Mesoraco’s reply to those like myself who thought that might be:

So why is this game preview story about someone who is not starting today? To avoid the issue of why is Bronson Arroyo starting again.

Starting Pitchers

Bronson Arroyo 46.2 6.75 5.52 14.4% 7.2%
Jerad Eikhoff 51.2 4.70 4.44 20.6% 7.9%

As we know, Arroyo might make it through the Phillies batting order once or twice before they start squaring up his 70’s to mid 80’s offerings. Eikhoff has pitched reasonably well for the Phillies in the past couple of years, and has gotten off to a very slow start this year. If he finds his form from the past couple of years, it could be a long day for the Redlegs.


With Tim Adleman’s gem Friday night, the bullpen should be well-rested. Newcomer Jake Buchanan, who has a 3.75 ERA in 50 major league innings, could fill the long relief role if needed. Or, it could be Robert Stephenson, who apparently won’t get a start in Toronto despite Amir Garrett’s absence.

Starting Lineups

Reds Phillies
CF Billy Hamilton 2B Cesar Hernandez
SS Zack Cozart CF Odubel Herrera
1B Joey Votto LF Aaron Altherr
LF Adam Duvall 1B Tommy Joseph
3B Eugenio Suarez RF Michael Saunders
RF Scott Schebler 3B Maikel Franco
2B Scooter Gennett C Cameron Rupp
C Tucker Barnhart SS Freddy Galvis
P Bronson Arroyo P Jerad Eikhoff

News and Notes

Scooter Gennett is 2-for-6 lifetime against Eikhoff, whereas Jose Peraza is 0-for-3, perhaps why Gennett is getting the start today over Peraza, who has a 12-game hitting streak.

Peter O’Brien, we hardly knew ye:

51 Responses

  1. JB WV

    Good piece, Tom. Gotta be a wait and see on Devo, physically. You’re right: I didn’t think he’d play this well so soon, but I’m really happy for him. This could be Bronson’s litmus test today to stay in the rotation. And Stephenson should get a start, especially with Garrett down.

  2. Cincity80

    I think Devin should be traded for pitching prospects, if possible. We have a good catchin prospect in the wings and I think Barnhart will be fine till then. I used to think we had some great pitching prospects but they’re not all panning out or used to their potential, i.e. Bob Steve and Cody Reed

    Not looking forward to watching the human batting tee known as Arroyo today

  3. docmike

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Bryan Price would sooner bring Eric Milton out of retirement to start, before he would give the ball to Robert Stephenson.

    Apparently once you get in Price’s doghouse, there’s no getting out.

  4. VaRedsFan

    The Reds are off and running. Billy bunt single, and a stolen base.

    • VaRedsFan

      And Cozart goes DEEP!!! 2-0 just like that

    • Old-school

      Starting pitching is amazing in its own way as well.

  5. Jeff Morris

    Great Article in Cincy Enquirer…do you extend Cozart or Not? I think it would be nice, as the players we have in the minor leagues are not ready yet…and sounds like Peraza is better at 2b than SS. However, if Reds trade Cozart at the trade deadline, they better get some really great players in return, and if not…Cozart will want a higher paycheck to play for a team, in the offseason, maybe?

    • Old-school

      Great question Jeff…the problem long term for Reds fans is Zack is playing at an All star level. He’s also planned his whole career for that second contract. The money being thrown around in FA is absurd. Zach will get 4 years and 60 million + from someone and that will take him to his age 37 season…I’d rather take that and extend Suarez or Hamilton. But Zack is a joy to watch play shortstop for sure.

      • benkten

        I follow the same train of thought. He is an aging shortstop who is playing out of his mind up until this point and is due for regression. Trade him for whatever you can get. I don’t think Peraza is going to start at second base as either Suarez or Senzel will probably take second, so he better learn to play short and I think he can do it.

  6. Indy Red Man

    Wow…so much fun watching Arroyo!

  7. VaRedsFan

    Lead cut in half after one batter….

  8. james garrett

    It is what it is until somebody says he is done as a starter.No fun at all watching him get beat down.

  9. VaRedsFan

    A ton of foul ground available in Philly

  10. james garrett

    You have got to feel for Bronson.He just doesn’t have enough velocity to make anybody respect his fastball.Slow slower and slowest becomes easier the more you see it.

  11. seat101

    What a great pregame article! Will you guys let me know when you get tired of me raising just about everything you do?

    On the other hand it makes it harder for us commoners to live up to that standard

  12. Indy Red Man

    Upper decker off Scruboyo….whos next?

  13. VaRedsFan

    Cozart halfway to the cycle with that double

  14. james garrett

    I think you for sure extend Cozart but he will want more money and years then we can afford to give him and I say that not knowing what our payroll situation is or will be.I will say that money would be better spent on a younger player just because of his age,He truly has been playing like an All Star.

    • Indy Red Man

      Other then Votto nobody will be making anything next year! Bailey & Mesoraco come off the books….they can easily pay Cozart if they want to!

      • Old-school

        Mesoraco has $13 million guaranteed and Bailey $21 million guaranteed in 2018.

        In 2019…Bailey is owed $23 million.

        For $5 million …the reds can make Bailey’s $25 million in 2020 go away.

      • Indy Red Man

        I stand corrected but they’re still like 23rd in payroll or something

  15. james garrett

    Billy swinging at the first pitch is never a good thing.

    • VaRedsFan

      He hit it hard, just right at ’em

  16. james garrett

    INDY are you saying after 2017 or 2018?

  17. VaRedsFan

    Barhardt guns out another would be base stealer

  18. VaRedsFan

    HR number 3 in 3.1 innings…sigh

  19. Indy Red Man

    When they’re serious about winning then I’m serious about coming back to Gabp. No wonder attendance sucks at gabp. Fans aren’t all idiots! We don’t want to see Arroyo, Marquis, Simon, or and whatever other worn-out designated HR launchers they can find.

    • VaRedsFan

      The Phillies suck, but there are plenty of people in the stands

  20. Shchi Cossack

    Folks, we are witnessing what should be the final outing of Arroyo’s career. I really wish he could have finished on qa positive note, but he has nothing left in his arm. Without any fastball, his breaking pitches simply can’t fool anyone.

    • Indy Red Man

      “Should be” means nothing….they shouldn’t have brought back a guy that can’t throw harder then 85 in the first place! Phillies are one of the worst hitting teams in mlb and they have 3 bombs already!

    • VaRedsFan

      I’m hoping you are right….and at least he went out with a scoreless inning.

    • Old-school

      Arroyo is over half way to Sammy Ellis and Aaron harang single season record of 35 Home runs…… before memorial day.

      I doubt he is removed from the rotation.

  21. VaRedsFan

    I don’t know if the Reds were in the running, but the White Sox signed Cuban, Luis Robert for 26 million

  22. VaRedsFan

    Scooter ties it driving in Suarez. The stolen base came in handy there.

  23. Indy Red Man

    Scooter!! They really should play him more at 2B vs righties over Peraza imo. I guess in a rebuild situation…they really want to see more of Peraza and make Scooter the utility guy but Gennett is easily the better offensive player vs righties!

    • VaRedsFan

      settles for a single…4-4. We need a Votto-bomb

  24. james garrett

    Time to put this game away we need to get back to 500.Lets score 2 or 3 right here and wrap it up.Go Reds.

  25. VaRedsFan

    Brice continues to pitch well. 2 solid innings

  26. VaRedsFan

    Lorenzen has been far from good lately. Takes another L.

  27. msanmoore

    Mediocre Bronson apparently needed the regular 5 run support for us to win today … back at it tomorrow.

    BTW – Love the way Scooter played today.

  28. Aaron Bradley

    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.