2017 Reds

Reds at Pirates – August 3, 2017

The Reds are looking to get out their brooms tonight versus the Pirates in Pittsburgh.  Yes, you read correctly; the Reds are looking to get out their brooms tonight versus the Pirates in Pittsburgh. This is the first time since June 28 that the Reds will be trying to push the brooms instead of hoping to avoid them.  If the Reds can complete the sweep, it will extend their modest winning streak to 4. They haven’t won that many consecutive games since June 8 when they completed a sweep of the Cardinals. Let’s get to it.

Starting Pitching

Sal Romano goes for the Reds tonight in his fifth start since being installed into the Reds rotation in late June.  The young righthander has struggled mightily with his control. The good news is when he throws strikes, he can be an effective pitcher. The bad news is that in two of his four recent starts he has walked hitters at a rate exceeding 1 batter per inning.  Also, too often, even when Romano is getting outs, he is still  pitch inefficient  and not able to pitch as deeply into games as needed. Robert Stephenson’s strong and pitch efficient performance Wednesday seemingly puts Romano squarely in the rotation bubble given the looming return of Scott Feldman from the DL. Here is hoping Big Sal steps up big tonight and gives the Reds a happy problem to figure out.

A third consecutive young righthander, 24 year old Chad Kuhl, starts for the Pirates tonight. Unlike the two prior Pirates starters in this series  who were top 50 overall draft picks, Kuhl was a ninth round pick (#269 overall 2013; chosen out of University of Delaware). Nonetheless he has grabbed the opportunity and  is in an MLB rotation alongside the more highly regarded pair at around a year younger than them.  Kuhl’s stuff is typical for today’s young pitchers.  A mid 90’s fastball and 90ish slider comprise about 85% of his  offerings with the remainder of his pitches about equally divided between a change up and even slower curve ball.

PITCHER xFIP HR/9 BB% K%
Sal Romano 5.32 1.25 16.7 22.6
Chad Kuhl 4.67 0.79 9.9 18.9

Bullpens

Michael Lorenzen and  Raisel Iglesias both pitched more than an inning last night for the Reds throwing 25 and 42 pitches respectively. How much if at all either can pitch tonight is for the Reds to know and us to learn along with the Pirates. However, expect to see a lot of Drew Storen and Wandy Peralta if the game is competitive from the seventh inning onwards. With the announcement Wednesday that Tim Adleman has been dropped from the Reds rotation, he could be the first man out of the pen tonight.

Clint Hurdle spread 3.2 bullpen inning among 4 different relievers yesterday with no one going longer than an inning. Nobody who pitched out of the Pirates pen last night pitched Tuesday. They should be in solid shape.

Lineups

REDS

1. Billy Hamilton (CF)
2. Jesse Winker (RF)
3. Joey Votto (1B)
4. Adam Duvall (LF)
5. Scooter Gennett (2B)
6. Eugenio Suarez (3B)
7. Jose Peraza (SS)
8. Tucker Barnhart (C)
9. Sal Romano (P)

PIRATES

1. Starling Marte (LF)
2. Adam Frazier (2B)
3. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
4. Josh Bell (1B)
5. David Freese (3B)
6. Gregory Polanco (RF)
7. Jordy Mercer (SS)
8. Chris Stewart (C)
9. Chad Kuhl (P)

Bryan Price seems to be sticking to the plan that if it succeeds try, try, again.  However, once again, no Devin Mesoraco.

News and Notes

A reminder that just like the rest of us, MLB players have lives away from work

Jesse Winker appears to have arrived on “both sides of the ball”.

This guy is on his way to the Reds in a hurry

In case you missed yesterday’s somewhat understated announcement…

Finally, this late bit of information

Final Thoughts

Success in baseball flows from effective pitching, particularly effective starting pitching.  We’ve seen this proven yet again in the Reds current three game run of wins. The results of the last three games should underscore to the Reds front office that if they can get the starting rotation right, the team is ready to begin, begin I said, competing at a higher level.

Looking to both the immediate and long term futures, the rotation needs to be the top priority. In the best of worlds, through the rest of 2017  internal candidates will  make efforts such as we’ve seen in the last three games the norm, enabling the front office to decide it can build a stable 2018 rotation with growth potential from among them. If this doesn’t happen, the time will have come to change course. As I see things in this case, they should either bring in one or two middle of the rotation pitchers to provide stability to build upon moving forward or take the unpalatable step of selling off MLB level talent for prospects and begin the rebuild anew. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to the latter. Go Reds!


Stats and data courtesy of Baseball Reference, Fangraphs, and MLB.com

53 thoughts on “Reds at Pirates – August 3, 2017

  1. Great summary Jim.
    In many respects…the sorting of 2017 is finally heating up.
    How do Homer/Castillo/ Stephenson and Romano pitch the rest of the year? Does Jesse Winker claim right field and a spot in the top of order heading into spring training? What does Jose Peraza do with an extended look at shortstop? Is 2017 a lost year for Mesoraco…again?

    • I wouldn’t say it’s a lost year for Mes. I think it’s huge that he’s come back, played as much as he has, and played as well as he has. I just think it’s getting later in the season, he may be a little banged up, and Barnhart is playing well so Mesoraco is basically the #2 guy at the moment.

  2. Wondering if perhaps Mesoraco is banged up. Of course Tucker has been playing well, there is a RHP going for the Pirates, and Tucker is miles better defensively than Mesoroco.

    • Twitter is saying right now that Price says BOTH Cozart and Mesoraco may play this weekend.

      I’m still waiting for a Pirates lineup and may put in a link about this when I update for the Pirates lineup.

      • How does the waiver wire work in August? Can you run players through while they are on the DL?

        • I’m clueless to that. Once upon a time you couldn’t move players on the DL but now it seems to be OK as long as everybody knows their situation and signs off. So I suppose so.

          @ZACHENQ states that Cozart will be be activated Saturday presuming he passes final muster if that’s who you are wondering about.

  3. Jim, I really like how you give the bullpen usage for the teams over the past couple games. Nice part of the preview.

    • Agree! Seems like that popped up in a game preview about a week ago, it’s a great addition to the rundowns.

  4. Jim, you are dead on target about the starting pitching. It starts and ends there for most teams. Starting pitchers for the 2017 Reds are 28-49 with a 5.96 ERA, and are averaging exactly 5 innings per start. Relievers on the other hand are 16-14 with a 4.24 ERA. If the Reds can get to the middle of the game and still be within a run or two, they have a decent shot. This group of starters hasn’t gotten them to that point most nights.

    With the injury blitz of the past couple of seasons, the Reds almost have to have the mindset of identifying six or seven starters. Two of them will start the 2018 season in the minors and be ready to come up when someone else tanks or gets hurt.

    • They have alot of questions but you would some of these guys have to pan out? They REALLY don’t need to put Feldman back in the rotation. Disco is coming back and Tyler Mahle has been outstanding. They could give Reed a shot to replace Cingrani. He’s only allowing .214 vs lefties at Lville. I don’t see him cracking the rotation anytime soon? I still like Finnegan but its hard to say how he’ll recover?

    • They need to invest in a veteran starting pitcher this offseason. Any B-tier guy who will take a reasonable 2-3 year contract, or work a trade for a youngish starter with some control, even if you have to give up some prospects for him. The bullpen is fine, the lineup is solid, but we’re pinning our hopes on a bunch of young starters, waiting for a couple of them to figure it out.

      • Quality starters with control rarely are available and the cost is extremely high. The Yankees, Cubs and Red Sox were able to get Gray, Quintana and Sale respectively because they had enormous organizational depth and they can just buy missing pieces.

        Interesting that the 2016 White Sox had Sale, Quintana, Adam Eaton and the beloved Todd Frazier and still sucked.

  5. Romano is a guy I love watching pitch and that I have a lot of hope for the future. I think he could develop into a VERY solid #2, workhorse, innings eater pitcher in the mold of Aaron Harang. He certainly has the stuff, just needs to mature a bit more physically and a lot more mentally.

    Everyone wants to talk about Castillo, who I agree is exciting, but I think Romano is going to be an important key to future Reds teams.

    • You probably heard it but they had him on FSN after the last start and he’s a well spoken & bright kid. I think the thing to watch with him, besides walks, are groundball/flyball ratio and HRs allowed. He only allowed 1 hr in Lville in 49 ip. 3 so far with the Reds in 21ip. A grounball/flyball ratio of 32 to 29. No more Adleman and Arroyo fly ball types….not with the new rubber ball and GABP!

  6. Jim, nice summary as usual.

    I don’t think the Reds won’t know if Finnegan/Lorenzen/Reed/Garrett (maybe more) can be entrenched starters by this November. It would seem unlike the Reds to jettison a young starting pitcher too early, after spending so much time and effort getting a crop this close.

    It’s one thing to possibly sweep the Pirates. However, there has been a gulf in class, offensively and defensively, whenever the Reds have played the Dodgers and Nationals, and to a lesser extent, the Cubs. Since they will likely all be division favorites in 2018, not sure why the Reds would feel forced to change course.

    There will be little to no expectations or pressure, except from the fans. And, we aren’t going anywhere.

    Sort the SPs out from opening day, once and for all. Fill holes next off-season through modest free agent signings, to try and start the window (for real) in 2019.

  7. Don’t see it hear from anyone else; maybe my computer is acting up but…..

    Disco bombed out in his rehab start at Dayton (Low A) tonight. Laasted only 1/3 of an inning, gave up 7 runs (or 8 depending which report is correct) including 3HR per Mark Sheldon, was walked off the field by the trainer.

    Not good.

    • excuse my homonym gaffe, “hear” above meant to be “here”. At my trusty PC typing directly into the site; so, I can’t even blame autocorrect 😉

    • I think you cant pencil in anybody but Homer and Castillo for next year. Last 3 spots are up for grabs. If Disco comes back then he is the 3rd but I wouldn’t pencil him in until he is back on the ballclub.

      • This was a big topic of conversation on the podcast we just recorded. Which of these pitchers can we count on for 2018?

        I don’t think there’s a single pitcher we can count on. Jason Linden disagreed.

        • I feel they must have at least 2 they can count on. That’s why I’ve been saying they are going to have to buy a rotation foundation for 2018 with a combination of $$ and talent or sell off for prospects and start over because the positional core is aging into higher salaries and the next positional wave is probably at least 2020-21 except for Senzel.

      • Disco 1/3 inning and 8 runs. Sorry to hear for him. Will certainly be some follow up to this. The reds position players are looking promising with Winker and Senzel. I would sign Billy Hamilton to a 3 year deal this offseason…let Zach cozart go and really look at what a 5 year 90 million FA pitcher looks like. If it’s Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn…. might be time to do it.

    • He’s going to need surgery.

      We’ve seen this play out. Elbow goes out, try to rehab it, come back, blow it out completely, time for surgery.

      I said back in Spring Training, as soon as I heard what kind of trouble he was having, he should have had surgery right then and there with an eye toward coming back during the ASB of 2018.

      Now he won’t be ready until Spring Training 2019 at the earliest.

      • Official word is forearm discomfort. That’s often a precursor to to elbow woes. The ulna is one of the forearm bones. The ulnar collateral ligament connects it to the elbow structure/ upper arm,,,,,,

        • Yeah, this sounds like the dreaded UCL progression all right. I know people are upset that the Reds and Disco tried the rest and rehab approach, but surgery is still a big deal and there’s no guarantee that he’ll be effective ever again. I understand that they wanted to take the chance that the least invasive path might work.

  8. Basically no Disco or Finnegan this year….or maybe ever? Thats really set this franchise back. If Disco goes in for surgery after all this time….they’re going to look completely incompetent. They have alot of arms but not much they can count on? They need to try to get someone somewhere in the off season. Someone younger then Feldman!

    • Under the CBA, a team can’t force you to have surgery when rehabilitation is an alternative. If you’re the agent for an injured pitcher without a long term deal there’s no way in hell you let him have surgery right away if there’s even a 10% possibility that rehab will work. The earlier in the year you have surgery the sooner your rehabilitation window ends at its easier for the team to release you before the next season.

      If you roll the dice with rehab and have to have surgery late in the season, you’ve all but guaranteed yourself another year of MLB pay while you’re rehabbing. Players have to do whats in their best interest.

      • Very good point. I m not sure its even that business oriented. Disco the human being wants to avoid surgery and give every opportunity to avoid a permanent scar and 12-16 months away from the game. if that’s an option, we all would choose it.

  9. It’s August..Kivlehan replaces Hamilton instead of Ervin?…losing 4-0….20 games under .500.

    • Yes. I agree. And let’s guess which of the two (Ervin/ Kivlehan) gets sent to AAA if they move forward with activating Cozart on Saturday. They are both “optionalble” i.e. no waiver risk to sending them down.

  10. Iggy, Lorenzen, and Peralta are all former starters. Its almost mandatory to return atleast 1 of them to the rotation. Romano & Mahle are both so young and have good stuff. Bob Steve looked pretty good last night but his fastball is straight as an arrow and down to 92-93 mph? Reed’s best bet is a Cingrani type reliever imo. We def need to go outside the organization for a guy for insurance that can put 175 decent innings

      • Lorenzen yes, but Peralta doesn’t really have the 3rd pitch and his fastball plays up a couple ticks in the pen. I think he stays in the pen and that’s not a bad thing. Lorenzen has 4 pitches. He just needs reps in my opinion and he needs to be on a starter’s routine so he can have side sessions. He needs to find consistency. He has the pitch selection and the endurance.

  11. Goldschmidt 3 HRs/6 rbis to beat the Cubs big pickups Quintana and Wade Davis. I’m just waiting for the day when the Reds farm system is so loaded that they can fill 3-4 spots in the lineup and then trade others for 4-5 key guys from other teams. The Cubs never seem to run out of young guys to trade?

    • Even if the farm system becomes that loaded, it would be difficult for the Reds to acquire and maintain the more established, expensive guys from other teams. The Cubs can just decide to make 80 million instead of 100 million and re-sign guys…..the Reds can’t

      • True- but the Reds have done a nice job of freeing up payroll. After the Mesoraco contract expires after 2018….then its only Votto( their best player)_and one more year of Homer in 2019. 2020 and beyond is a blank canvas with a modest buyout of Homer.
        I think the Reds have 30-40 million per year in 2019-21 that is to be determined.

  12. I’m ready for the computers to start calling balls and strikes. Looking at the strike zones on Fangraphs, it’s not getting better, and it seems to be getting worse.

    • I don’t know if it’s getting worse. I think it’s never been great and now we have the technology in place to see just how bad it is. As a catcher, pitcher and as a hitter, you know which guys you can count on and which are all over the place. Out of the more consistent guys, you know what they consider “their zone” and you take that into account. Maybe there are calls off the corner all day but when it’s consistent that’s ok… I don’t like the idea of robot umps but I can certainly understand why support for the idea is gaining traction.

      • I’d prefer something in the middle. Equip the home plate ump with an earpiece that beeps or sensor that vibrates when current recording devices detect what they “see” as a strike, BUT the human still makes the call he chooses to make.

        They are already being graded after the fact by this system; so, over time they are going to go with it except when they honestly believe some extenuating circumstance has caused the robot to miscall a pitch. The intensity of the prompt by the system could vary with location of the pitch to help the umps learn the edges of the zone better.

          • I’m thinking that a weak strike prompt would be indicative that the system was at its limits to discern also. I’ll bet $$ against donuts that when they have grading sessions now there are times the human persuades the supervisor his call was as good or better than the machine indication. This is why I think the best system still leaves some judgement with the human.

          • Also, I doubt this happens at the MLB level but even in independent league ball we’d occasionally get “Guys, we got some weather coming in. My zone is gonna be bigger. Be ready to swing.”

    • Yes, definitely a positive step forward. He still throws too many pitches, but he’s making progress.

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