2017 Reds / Titanic Struggle Recap

Reds beat Cubs 2-1 behind another strong start from Luis Castillo

Final R H E
Cincinnati Reds (50-70) 2 8 0
Chicago Cubs (62-56) 1 7 0
W: Lorenzen (7-2) L: Strop (3-3) S: Iglesias (21)
FanGraphs Win Probability | Box Score

The Good
–Luis Castillo is very, very good. Tonight, Castillo twirled six scoreless innings, allowing just two hits. He struck out seven and walked two.

I don’t know if Castillo or Raisel Iglesias is more enjoyable to watch on the mound, but I’m glad these guys are Cincinnati Reds.

–Joey Votto walked three times. Jesse Winker had two hits and a walk. Eugenio Suarez had a hit and a walk. Billy Hamilton had a couple of hits.

–As noted above, Votto reached base three times tonight. That is 20 straight games in which Votto has reached base 2 or more times, which ties him with Barry Bonds (2004) and Pete Rose (1979) for #2 in MLB history. Next up: Ted Williams, who reached base in 21 consecutive games in 1948.

–The Reds took a 1-0 lead in the top of the 8th on a Scooter Gennett sac fly that scored Votto. (Note: Scooter did not pitch tonight.) In the bottom half, Wandy Peralta entered to pitch and promptly walked the first two batters. After collecting the first out of the inning, Peralta was replaced by Raisel Iglesias.

As he often does, Iglesias put out the fire, preserving Cincinnati’s slim lead.

In the top of the 9th, the Reds doubled their lead when Hamilton singled Winker home.

–Hamilton stole his 50th base of the season tonight.

The Bad
–Reds missed a golden opportunity in the top of the seventh. With the game still scoreless, Eugenio Suarez walked and Jesse Winker singled. Manager Bryan Price had Tucker Barnhart attempting to bunt, despite the fact that the pitcher’s spot and Billy Hamilton were the next two hitters.

Barnhart couldn’t get down a bunt and ultimately struck out swinging. With runners on first and third (Suarez advanced to third on a wild pitch), Price removed Castillo — who had been dominant, as noted above — in favor of pinch-hitter Patrick Kivlehan. Kivlehan struck out in a particularly ugly at-bat. Then Hamilton struck out, as well, for the third out. (Though, it must be noted that the third strike on Hamilton was a garbage call on a check swing.)

You know how I feel about Hamilton, but this was a perfect example of a situation where it harms the Reds to have Hamilton hitting leadoff. He should be batting eighth. Hamilton is a legitimate big league starter, but he’s not the guy you want getting more at-bats than anyone else in the lineup.

And Price has to know that.

Not-So-Random Thoughts
–It’s always fun to beat the Cubs.

–That’s four consecutive quality starts for Castillo.

–Iglesias gave everyone a little scare in the bottom of the ninth. Okay, it was a pretty big scare — or at least as big a scare as we can get in this lost season.

With the Reds up 2-0, Iglesias surrendered singles to Kyle Schwarber and Jason Heyward. Fortunately, the Cubs handed the Reds a free out with a sacrifice bunt that moved the tying runs into scoring position.

Iglesias looked really good in striking out the final two hitters of the game, but it was tense for a moment there. Ultimately, however, it was Iglesias’ ninth save in which he recorded four or more outs. That’s tied for tops in the big leagues.

–Votto and Suarez are 1-2 in the National League in walks during the month of August. Votto has 21, while Suarez has 15.

–Speaking of walks, Suarez has 45 walks on 3-2 counts this season. That’s the best in baseball. What that shows me is Suarez’ ever-increasing command of the strike zone. This kid just keeps getting better and better.

–Only three National League players have hit 60+ homers and 180 RBI in the last two seasons: Colorado’s Nolan Arenado, Joey Votto, Adam Duvall.

–Game three of this four-game series will take place tomorrow night. Homer Bailey will pitch for the good guys.

Today’s Tweets

64 thoughts on “Reds beat Cubs 2-1 behind another strong start from Luis Castillo

  1. By far the most suspenseful and exciting game the Reds have played this year and in a while before that. A ton of strategy was at play in this one, and I wish that Price would have left Castillo in the game but oh well.

    A hard earned win for the Redlegs!

  2. Just remember: Dan Straily.

    He’s going to be the answer to a Reds trivia question in about 5 years when Castillo is challenging for the Cy Young every year.

    • Yeah, maybe a little like Doyle Alexander? The Braves traded him to the Tigers, who needed pitching help in the stretch drive, in August 1987. The Braves received a double-AA pitcher in return — John Smoltz.

      We can only dare to dream.

  3. Very rare game between those teams. Reds had multiple opportunities to increase the score, but between the lack of offensive (1-9 w/RISP, 10 LOB) and Price’s lousy decisions it was not possible.

  4. As another poor season becomes to an end, it’s worth to mention those players that have performed or taken a step forward towards a better future: Barnhart, Votto, Gennett, Cozart, Suarez, Duvall and Winker. That’s 7 out of 8 position players. As for the pitching, I think only Castillo, Iglesias and Peralta are worth to be mentioned. A lot of uncertainty in the future before having a solid starting rotation again.

  5. 100% agreement on how Price handled the 7th inning. That’s a microcosm on why Price should be fired. No way you have Barnhart bunt. Give away an out plus it removes Castillo from the game who was dominant. Followed by Hamilton who has no business batting 1st either. I was beside myself.

    • Price didn’t really have any good options there. I would have had Barnhart hit away, but that risks a double play followed by Castillo hitting. The bench is thin, with I think no left-handed hitters last night, so Price opted to see if Kivlehan could hit a sac fly and relied on his bullpen. It would have been a better strategy if he had Tony Gwynn to pinch-hit instead of Kivlehan.

      I would have liked to see Castillo go another inning or two, but on the other hand there is some merit to the idea of getting Castillo out of the game with a good taste in his mouth. Maddon said after the game that Castillo “doesn’t have a good arm. He has a great arm.”

      • Brought this up in the game thread… with runners on the corners and 1 out in the 7th and Castillo only at 80, pitches…
        Is it more important to try to win the game with a better hitter or to see if Castillo could go 7 or 8 innings? I was disappointed they took him out

        • I raised this exact conundrum to my wife while watching the game. And, of course, was met with that “don’t you have anyone else to talk to about baseball?” look…

  6. I’m tempering my expectations for the kid, but every additional start he has makes it pretty hard not to believe. I imagine there will be growing pains with him, as he’s young, but even still his pains are going to come with Tylenol or ibuprofen so it won’t hurt as bad..

    • I agree .. Castillo looks good .. But lets see how durable he is long term . He throws the ball as hard or harder then anyone else. That alone will take its toll for sure. As always let’s keep our fingers crossed .

      • Castillo is young and he has a wiry physique that may enable him to withstand the physical beating that a pitching career entails.

  7. Bet the over tonight. Historically Bad Homer Bailey pitches in Wrigley Field. Opponents have an OPS of .997 against HBHB, who is striking out only 5.85/9 IP. No stuff, no command, no movement, no deception.

    He’s now 26+ months past Tommy John surgery, so I am not sure what the excuse is. To his credit, HBHB doesn’t dodge the media after his starts. He will stand up after games and admit he’s bad, but . . .

    • I’ve never been a Homer fan but believe it or not….he’s given up 2 runs or less in 5 of his last 8 starts. That’s worth a ticker tape parade with this bunch. I think you have to have atleast some command to pull that off. Of course he gave up a 10 spot to the Cards so his overall numbers are horrible. We’ll see?

      • Yeah, but in the last game, he gave up 5 hits and 5 walks in 5 innings, while giving up only 2 runs. It was also his highest percentage of hard-hit balls (50%) of the year, and the 2.00 WHIP in that game was actually lower than his 2.03 WHIP for the year.

        He’s yielding 28.1% line drives this year, versus 21.1% for his career, and his K/BB is only 1.24, when his career average is 2.49.

        He is particularly horrid against right-handed hitters, who are slashing .413/.484/.642, which effectively turns the average righty facing him into Mike Trout.

        I guess there isn’t anything to lose by continuing to roll him out there the rest of the year, in hopes that he can resolve it by next spring. But if doesn’t have it together by the first of May next year, he’s pretty much a $20 million mop-up man.

        • Dude hasn’t pitched much in the last three years. The velocity is there and that’s the main thing. Give him a chance to figure out the rest.

  8. It seems batting Billy 8th comes up a lot and some people think batting him 9th would be worse. I see some many benefits of batting him 9th
    1) He is the worst hitter in the line-up and would get the fewest AB
    2) If he gets on base he is in the exact same situation as batting leadoff with the best hitters batting.
    3) Batting 8th and having the pitcher come up would deeply hamper his best skills plus he probably sees worse pitches.
    4) any body got an argument about batting a worse hitter above him is neglecting the fact that the pitcher probably gets 2 AB like Castillo last night and you can change this with PH 2 or 3 times a game.
    Last night in same situation in seventh, Castillo could have bunted and remained in the game (I know the whole dynamic of the line up would have played differently but to me pitcher batting 8th or 9th is not an issue but batting Billy 9th has so many advantages)

    • Maybe I’m wrong but I thought a lot of people favored batting him ninth and used the reasoning you did above. I thought Price got props last year when he batted him 9th for awhile. I don’t know that I’ve seen much criticizing the idea.

    • Hamilton has an OBP of .328 v. right-handed pitchers, but only .219 v. LHP. At .328, I can still use him at lead off against right-handers, but hitting him at the bottom of the order makes since against lefties.

      And they might as well play Ervin in center against lefties while he’s here over the next week or so.

      • even at .328, only one hitter in line up has worse OBP, career LHB OBP at .310 which is OK for his skill set, but then you are back to the disadvanatge as soon as they bring in a lefty, I just rather have.370 overall hitting in front of Votto maximizing his at bats

      • As long as Price is here and I believe he will be back in 2018,Billy will hit lead off.Oddly we discuss daily if he puts his team in the best position to win but in reality the discussion needs to stop when the line ups are posted.He puts his team at a disadvantage before the first pitch is even thrown by insuring his worse hitter that has no power and strikes out over 25% of the time gets the most at bats.As much as most of us hate bunting it really isn’t an issue is it?

        • He’s on pace for 640 atbats or something crazy? He’s super skinny and literally bounces off walls but yet barely gets any days off?

    • I’m in the same camp as the others above. Hit him 9th…not 8th against lefties. He’d be OK leading off vs righties. To have the pitcher batting after him and bunting is a total waste of his baserunning strength

    • I just love the idea of hitting him eighth for no other reason than it makes the opposing team pause to walk him with the pitcher up next (a relatively common occurrence).

      Because if u do he’ll be standing on third in 2 pitches and now you’re a hanger away from giving up a run to the 8-9 in the lineup.

      Prolly wouldn’t happen often but when it did I would revel in it.

  9. Almost forgot.Castillo was awesome and Winker hitting 7th which is crazy was on base 3 times.

  10. Weren’t we just talking about Votto’s HOF skill set and someone was scoffing about linking him in any way with Ted Williams? He’s doing something with his streak that only HOF do- Rose, Bonds (yeah, I know), and Williams.

    And, lo and behold, even Marty acknowledged last night on the air that Votto might be headed toward Cooperstown. But don’t worry, that sentiment is likely temporary from him.

    • A friend of mine from HS told me that Marty has been almost exclusively positive about Votto this year. I found it odd, but it makes sense. After so long of being Elite, even Marty has to realize it!

      • The times I’ve heard Marty comment about Votto this year has been almost exclusively positive. Shocking I know.

        • Me too. He said a couple months ago that Votto may be the best overall hitter in franchise history.

      • Not to defend Marty, but for the first time since 2010, Votto is “hitting” more like everyone hoped he would. Home runs, and attacking his at bats early in the count as well as not fishing for balls out of the zone. He is now mashing strikes early in the count instead of watching them go by.

  11. Didn’t see Castillo pitch last night, but the videos show his follow through leg whipping around, somewhat like Lorenzen. Can’t remember if Castillo always has done that, or if he’s getting a little loosy-goosey with it. Hard to argue with the results, but is it a good thing in the long run?

  12. >>>>>>>>>>BREAKING NEWS>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Memo to Dick Williams and Bob Castellini:
    Did you see what good starting pitching can do for a team with a good defense and a pretty good offense?
    Go get a good starting pitcher this off-season.

    One addition to The Good. Adam Duvall’s OF assist at 2B was fantastic. He didn’t throw the ball to 3B as most everyone expected and nailed the unsuspecting baserunner at 2B. Great throw. Great play. It was huge. It stunted a would-be rally and Castillo got out of the inning stranding that runner at 3B.

  13. Why is Suarez getting penalized with fewer at-bats in the 6 hole? I’ve seen the calls for him to hit leadoff, which makes sense. I’d settle for cleanup and Duvall behind him, then Gennett. I love the idea of Suarez and Votto clogging up some bases and knocking a few out of the park along the way.

    • 1. Because the manager has an outdated philosophy for making the lineup.
      2. Because the manager treats every lineup change as though it’s breaking a thousand-year sacred covenant.

    • I still think it would be fun to order guys by raw production w/o any sense of who they were, just to see how it worked. Most ABs to the best hitters, as it were.

      Right now, that would like this:

      Votto
      Cozart
      Gennett
      Suarez
      Duvall
      Winker/Schebler
      Barnhart
      Peraza (Benched if Cozart/Gennett playing)
      Hamilton
      Pitcher

      In reality, you’d probably want to weight the order with some idea of career numbers and LH/RH biases.

  14. Seems like Joey is picking up, more and more, some of Ted Williams quirky little on field antics…throwing a foul ball up on Wrigley’s roof, etc. In regard to comparing Joey to Ted…Joey won’t end up with as many HRs, won’t hit for as high career average, and has already struck out more with about half as many plate appearances. That said, Joey’s career numbers, if he keeps them up, compare favorably with other HOFs.

    • Ted Williams didn’t face 97 mph every night either? Most of these comparisons are a complete waste of time

      • wRC+ adjusts for the era/parks different players played in.

        Williams had a wRC+ of 188. Votto currently at 158.

        Williams was better than the players of his day by a much wider margin than Votto is over the players if his day.

        • Did Jackie get in before TW got out? How many nasty Dominican pitchers did Ted face? 99 from Castillo then a changeup that breaks 2 ft to the right like a screwball! Somebody on ESPN said it about Jim Brown clips once…”Looks like he was running the ball against a bunch of guys that run like my dad”

          • That’s one point of view, Indy. But it stands to reason that as competition has gotten better, these great players could have gotten better if they played in the same era. They were, by definition, great players because they were so far ahead of their counterparts.

          • Also, that guy from ESPN would have been crushed (even if he combined he and his dad’s speed) by those players. They looked slow because they were being compared to one of the all time greats!

          • I’m probably too late with this, Indy, but you yourself have noted before that there is more to good pitching than velocity. Today’s hitters are adjusting to 97 and 98. The good pitchers Williams faced weren’t all soft-tossers (Bob Feller, anyone?) but plenty of them got to MLB because of excellent control. Excellent control is much more difficult to adjust to than velocity is. Remember Greg Maddox.

  15. Between Joey and Jesse on base 6 times out of 9 plate appearances. HMMMMM! wonder what would happen if they batted back to back? Probably not know this year.

    • When this season is over and computer simulations are available based on 2017 stats, it would be interesting to get into an online Strat-O-Matic league and build a lineup with Winker leading off, Suarez hitting second (or vice versa), Votto third and Duvall fourth — and see what kind of run production would happen with that batting order over a simulated season.

      • You know what is more awesome than online Strat-O-Matic? Diamond Mind. Best pure sim I can think of.

  16. The efficiency or non-efficiency of bunting again is a point of discussion after specific at-bats by Jon Jay and Tucker Barnhart last night. There was a recent Brewers game in which Manager Craig Counsell took heat for NOT bunting late in the game. His quote:

    “I don’t think bunting is the way to score a lot of runs.”

    This factoid from an NBC Sports article on the game:

    “…according to Baseball Prospectus, the runs expected from having runners on first and second with no outs is 1.48. With runners on second and third and one out, it’s 1.37. It doesn’t seem like much, but if one often chooses to bunt in these situations, the lost runs add up over time.”

    http://mlb.nbcsports.com/2017/08/07/craig-counsell-i-dont-think-bunting-is-the-way-to-score-a-lot-of-runs/

    • I don’t get it? I think Price was trying to make sure Tucker didn’t hit into a double play but he has 72 hits while he’s hit into 11 doubleplays. The crazy thing too is that he’s giving up an out with Billy on deck and batting .200 vs lefties? Billy got the key hit the 2nd time around but that’s not playing the numbers whatsoever?

    • The major thing that people forget is the chance of an unsuccessful bunt.

      All the RE calcs, if taken in a pure additive sense, assume a 100% bunt success rate. Really, bunting is much, much worse than RE makes it out to be.

      It’s never the right call unless a guy has over a 70% success rate, and even then, it’s only correct with 1 run will win the ball game in certain situations.

      • Bunting is just stupid 95% of the time. I see other NL teams and they don’t auto bunt their pitchers every time. Price will have 1st/3rd with 1 out and have Homer (.160 average or whatever) just bunt the guy to 2nd for Billy. Homer could make alot of outs to get a run in…let alone a hit?

        • There’s also a very high likelihood that he could strike out. I’m going to say, without any statistics to back me up, that it is a good move to have a pitcher who cannot hit worth a darn to bunt and advance a runner, instead of striking out with no advancement of runners. Of course, part of that question is whether the pitcher can bunt. Most don’t seem to be able to.

          • Dan Straily or Romano maybe…guys that get 1-2 hits a year? Homer can hit a little bit and Billy was the guy they’re trying to setup for 2 out rbis. You have to take some calculated risks sometimes and like Patrick said….half the time we have Barnhart running so they’re going to get him on a bunt anyway?

    • Notice Counsell said “a lot of runs”. He didn’t say “a run”.
      It was also Craig Counsell just a few days ago had his #8 batter put down a late inning bunt against the Reds with a runner on 3rd base and less than 2 outs. Good bunt, runner scored, batter didn’t even run it out. Good strategy as the pitcher was in the on-deck circle. I believe that was also the go-ahead run that scored on that bunt. Was able to keep their pitcher in the game and didn’t have to use a PH. There is a time and place for everything. Time and place.
      Plus, the TV announcers said Barnhart is one of the better bunters on the team and had 5 sacrifices. Barnhart just failed very badly at executing a bunt. The strategy was there, the execution of play significantly lacked. Then Kivlehan and Hamilton looked pathetic on their at-bats. Lack of execution.

    • Another consideration against calling for the bunt is that bunts are not always successful. The above stat does not even consider the bunt calls that lead to a strikeout, fielder’s choice, or double play.

    • In all fairness, Maddon pretty much did the same thing in the same situation. I disagreed with the bunt but not because of the dang Runs Expected tables. They are a good starting point but completely context neutral. The things that play into not bunting there starts with the RE tables but then is reinforced by the on-deck and in-the-hole hitters, along with the fact that Maddon had his corners looking like they were expecting a bunt. Now, different guys hitting behind him and the defense playing more honestly, maybe I go ahead and bunt even with the RE tables saying I shouldn’t.

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