2017 Reds / Game Thread

Reds vs. Braves – August 20, 2017

What would Bryan Price say?

CINCINNATI, OH – APRIL 9: Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price looks on during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Great American Ball Park on April 9, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Some Redleg Nation readers have suggested that a reporter should ask Price about his thought process in placing the 140th and 141st worst on-base percentage hitters (out of 157 qualifiers) at the top of his lineup, as happened yesterday (and again today) with Billy Hamilton and Jose Peraza.

Clearly, Price has shown that he has a short temper when he feels he has been unfairly questioned by a beat reporter. (Audio: Price rant with 70 f-bombs bleeped out.)

It’s important to realize that each beat reporter has to maintain a decent working relationship with the people they cover. If not, the reporter can get “overlooked” when it comes time for someone like the manager to release breaking news items to the media. In today’s media environment, if you’re not first with a breaking news item, you’re essentially last. Reporters who consistently get beaten by their counterparts from other news organizations don’t last long in the business. So there is a lot for any reporter to think about before approaching the manager and pointing out, in essence, that he appears to be ignoring statistics and analytics that show clearly how certain players perform in certain situations.

Today, Hamilton will be batting righthanded against a lefthanded starter. As a righthanded batter, Hamilton is batting .209, with a .225 on-base percentage (thanks to a 2 percent walk rate as a righthanded batter, compared to a 25 percent strikeout rate).

You have to understand that Price is trying to convince the front office that he should be brought back as the manager in 2018, so he is doing what he thinks gives his team the best chance to win, while at the same time going through the “sorting” exercise. So batting Hamilton and Peraza 1-2 is not some sort of in-your-face statement to fans and critics. It’s what, in his mind, gives the Reds the best shot of winning that day.

So if asked the question about why Hamilton and Peraza are batting 1 and 2, he might say something like this:

“We are eighth in the majors and sixth in the National League in runs scored, despite being only 17th in the majors in team batting average, so we’re doing something right.”

Clearly that would overlook the potential improvements of having people on base much more often when Joey Votto and Adam Duvall come to bat.

Price was asked on a recent radio pre-game show about batting Jesse Winker (he of the .390 on-base percentage) leadoff that day when Hamilton had the day off. Price responded that Winker was not the prototype leadoff batter with speed (I am paraphrasing). It became crystal clear at that moment that in Price’s mind, it’s speed and not on-base percentage that defines who is a leadoff batter and who is not. And it appears that no amount of pleading from Redleg Nation and sabermetricians will change that fact.

We’ll see how it unfolds today as the Reds go for the road sweep against the Braves at SunTrust Park.

Starting Pitchers

Name IP ERA xFIP K% BB%
Luis Castillo 66.1 3.39 3.91 24.4% 10.3%
Sean Newcomb 64.2 4.45 4.65 23.9% 12.8%

Today’s matchup is between a couple of rookie pitchers with many similarities. Both are 24 years old, both came from other organizations in trades (Newcomb came from the Angels in the Andrelton Simmons trade; Castillo from the Marlins for Dan Straily), and both are showing good strikeout pitches but some lack of control at times.

It seems clear that Castillo, if he continues pitching as he has, will start the 2018 season at the top of the Reds rotation. Here are a couple of glass half-full and glass half-empty perspectives on Castillo from authors who don’t follow the Reds every day. Interesting reading.

Bullpen

Raisel Iglesias should be available today after being given an intentional day off in Saturday’s win. The only reliever we’re not likely to see is Asher Wojciechowski, who pitched two innings Saturday.

Starting Lineups

Reds Braves
CF Billy Hamilton CF Ender Inciarte
SS Jose Peraza 3B Brandon Phillips
1B Joey Votto 1B Freddie Freeman
LF Adam Duvall RF Nick Markakis
3B Eugenio Suarez C Tyler Flowers
2B Scooter Gennett LF Matt Adams
RF Scott Schebler 2B Ozzie Albies
C Tucker Barnhart SS Dansby Swanson
P Luis Castillo P Sean Newcomb

News and Notes

Can a player from a last-place team win the league Most Valuable Player award?

Alex Rodriguez did so in 2003 with the Texas Rangers, and Andre Dawson did with the Cubs in 1987, so there is precedent.

Another spot in the record books for Scooter Gennett …

Minor league update …

93 thoughts on “Reds vs. Braves – August 20, 2017

  1. As noted, there may be good reasons for a reporter not to stir the pot by asking Price about his batting order. However, his boss the GM, who allegedly is at least somewhat tuned into the sabr world, could.

  2. If this is remotely true:
    “Price responded that Winker was not the prototype leadoff batter with speed (I am paraphrasing). It became crystal clear at that moment that in Price’s mind, it’s speed and not on-base percentage that defines who is a leadoff batter and who is not. ”

    …then I am squarely in the “Fire Bryan Price” camp. I really thought he was smarter than this.

    • No…he really isn’t. He’s a bright guy overall but something is off somewhere? I can’t believe that Ervin could go off like he did in Chicago, and then not even get 1 start this weekend? Has Price watched Billy’s atbats vs lefties this year? Its not just that he’s been horrific in August (.217 / .261 obp) but thats he’s on pace for 643 atbats? He’s too skinny and flies into walls and bases every week. He needs much more time off then that? Thats probably why he’s struggling so much.

    • Tom,

      Great game setup. Lots of food for thought before first pitch.

      Schebler is hittling league average vs. LHP and Winker has had only 11 PAs vs. LHP. Not a bad idea, I guess, then to keep Schebler playing his way back into form today, especially after last night’s performance.

      Plenty of opportunities for all 4 OFs over last 6 weeks, unless one of them is chasing some personal goal and Reds want them to hit it.

      • I don’t have any problem with Schebler playing again tonight – as you said, especially after how he hit last night. But he’s not the only option to sit for Winker.

        • You are spot on.

          I hope the Reds develop a solution to move on from Hamilton as an everyday CF, but I accept that Price is currently devoted to running him out there, optimal or not.

          I forgot to put Ervin in the mix as well. (Maybe Price did as well). (Gallows humor there).

          It’s tough for anyone to do in the grind of the season, but I feel like there could be volumes written, here and elsewhere, this off-season on how and why the Reds handled so many playing time decisions in 2017.

  3. If anyone is watching, Tottenham-Chelsea at Wembley.

    Great stuff.

    Cup Final atmosphere in August.

    • I am firmly in this camp as well. So sick of seeing his pathetic lineup construction and bullpen moves. Hamilton should not be leading off every single day while Winker sits, who has a higher OBP than Hamilton will ever have.

  4. I dont think Price is batting those two up there because it gives the Reds the best chance to win, but more for the sorting part. Speed along WITH OBP is ideal at the top of the lineup. They have the God-given speed. Now they have to learn how to get on base. In a lost season, I think he’s giving them every opportunity to learn how to work in those spots in the order. It frustrates me as much as anyone to see those two (especially BH) get the most at ABs, but that is the only reason why that makes sense to me.

    • Price believes speed at the top is the only way to go.That’s what he does and has always done and he will not change.Look for more of the same next year.He doesn’t get it that guys that get on base and have power should get more at bats then those that don’t.

  5. IMO, to say, “…we’re doing something right” when your team is 18 games under .500 and 13 games out of the division lead defies logic. Under Price’s “leadership,” the Reds are nearly 100 games under .500 (261-349) in the past 4 years, and have finished 4th, 5th, and 5th and are headed for another 5th-place finish this year.

    No, Mr. Price, you are doing nothing right. To say otherwise is laughable.

    • Just to be clear, that was the author’s speculation on what Price might say, since nobody has asked the question. In complete fairness to Price, we have no idea what he might actually say.

        • I am not sure what last 2 months you are referring to. I thought they won a 4 and 3 game series against the cards, beat AZ when they were neck and neck for the wildcard, swept LA in big walk off finishes and won a series at Pittsburgh the next to last weekend of the season. then they tank losing final 6 games- looked like they had no fight when a lot of things were working out for them

  6. Opinion;
    The “local press” consists of one newspaper, 4 local TV outlets. The game announcers on radio are employed by the Reds, the tv guys work for Fox and MLB writers work for MLB. Nobody wants to bite the hand that feeds them.
    The questions that most of “Red Leg Nation” would ask are those that fans have. The big picture from the other side of the Cincinnati ownership table is that fans are stupid. Price is controlled by ownership and is considered a “safe” employee. Coverage from outside the market “doesn’t have a dog in the fight”. The analytics side of the argument really don’t come into play. Outside influences don’t come into play, how many baseball players sit or kneel during the National Anthem? It is a tightly closed circle and questions are basically answered the same way by all the folks in management.

    • Hence the value of RLN.
      The game coverage on this site and issues- oriented commentary is far more informed and objective than the mainstream media.
      Doug Gray’ s coverage of the minors is far better than any Reds outlet.

  7. Worse possible line up based on data that we could have today as far as offense is concerned.Yet I get a feeling we win.Call me foolish or whatever but I feel it.

  8. The Old Cossack tuned into the game a little late, only to fined Duvall at the plate with 2 outs and a baserunner on 1B. To my utter amazment…NOT…, I found that 1B is occupied by Joey Votto after outs by both Hamilton and Peraza. I’m assuming that Votto walked with 2 outs…again.

    A microcosm of Price’s approach to lineup management…

  9. He takes the bat out of Joey’s hand again but speed kills of course.Wait for it,wait for it,wait for it etc etc etc etc etc.

  10. Castillo is special! Its as simple as that. I was a teenager when Soto pitched as he was similar w/the fastball/change but Castillo has more talent. Soto threw a high fastball and always gave up alot of HRs. Castillo is more athletic! Castillo was with the Reds in Spring Training too….what in the world led them to choose Rookie Davis for the rotation? We have atleast 5 young guys better then him.

    • Never understood about Rookie and Garrett being put in the rotation.Neither were anywhere close stuff wise then 4 or 5 other guys.Reed and Stephensen has better stuff and were put in the pen.Castillo and Romano were sent to the minors.

    • I’d like to see Mahle in September.
      Castillo is showing the potential to develop into a front line starter. Iglesias is an elite reliever now. 2 reasons for optimism.

  11. Lots of pitches though.Needs a couple of quick innings but he has electric stuff.

    • Agreed … just a bit concerned with his pitch conservation at this point. But great to see him work out of a small jam with the K’s.

  12. Wonder if the Reds could send Billy and some prospects to the Braves for Inciarte? He’d look pretty nice leading off for the Reds, plays great defense, and is still only 26.

    Surely the Reds could put together a package to get him?

      • I used to be a big BHam fan, always believing he was right on the cusp of figuring things out, but it seems he just can’t take that next step. We can see Peraza figuring things out right before our eyes, but Billy seems to be stuck in neutral.

        Maybe he’s a “change of scenery” type player, and if nothing else he still plays awesome defense. The prospect would help make it palatable for the Braves, maybe Billy, AlfRod, and Rookie Davis could land the Reds Inciarte and a bullpen piece. I’d make that trade.

        • I’m still a fan, but not in the 1-hole. We’ve had weaker hitting CF’ers before and his glove is worth a bunch out there given other current options. I know that could change in the next couple of years. But move him to 8 or 9 and get him to continue to work on his plate discipline.

          I totally agree on the change of scenery. Perhaps to a bigger park where his D really still shines and it just “feels” like there is more outfield green to hit with those flairs?

          • He’s perfect for Colorado. Billy said he loves to run and thats the place to do it. He’d get weak doubles and some inside the park HRs. They have young pitching too!

        • I also think they need to kill the switch hitting bit entirely. He’s just so much weaker from the right side from what I’ve observed.

          • BH is naturally right handed. Reds should never have forced switch hitting down his throat. He began hitting better and for more power right handed in his rookie year if I remember….

  13. Wait … Billy hit a single and Peraza walked? I’m not saying both of them at the top (one or the other max, please), but the results for this inning look promising. Let’s see what JV can manufacture.

  14. Peraza!! Not only draws a walk but it advances 2 guys! Pre-AS break Jose, without a doubt, swings at that 3-1 pitch and gets severely jammed

  15. Brandon’s oddball hits are making me laugh this series. Plus his glove at 3B (which I NEVER would have expected him to play) has been pretty solid. Perhaps that change could extend his career.

  16. I swear. BPs little bleeder leads to 2 runs so far? Castillo has been great but he just served that 2-2 fastball right.down.the.middle to Markakis? Can’t make that pitch with 2 men on

  17. Brain fart by both Peraza and Scooter … zero communication on where Freeman was.

    • That was bad. Peraza prob didnt say anything but Scooter should know there was a man on 1st and he needs to come home. I think they get him w/a good throw.

  18. Good Schebler is better then Winker and prob better then Duvall for that matter. Its just he’s Jay Bruce streaky and can you wait another month for a good 10 day run?

    • But how much did the nagging injury play into his last slump? We may never know that. But I agree that when he’s on he’s on … this series is proof of that.

      • He’s always going to have a big swing though and a ton of Ks/lower obp. I prefer Winker but its good to have choices!

  19. I feel the pull of a nap calling. Not sure our boys can pull themselves up in this one, but perhaps. Braves are seemingly adept at scoring later in games as well (which we saw all too well last evening).

  20. I disagree with Tom B. that bunting is so easy? It shouldn’t be that hard to get the bunt down, however, these corner guys crash MUCH MUCH harder then they did in the old days. Rizzo is like 40 ft from the pitcher when the ball gets there. I’m afraid he may get killed if someone crushed one? With Barnhart running…its pretty difficult. Freeman charged…cant bunt it too hard (which he did) but can’t just tap it either or the catcher starts a 2-6-3 doubleplay. I would start butcher boy plays more often but Price loves the bunt like no other.

    • Thom is a known bloviating idiot on multiple topics … but the kind of hidden point is the younger pitchers just don’t practice and don’t get the reps in the minors the way they used to. Perhaps it’s time for a universal DH anyway.

    • Question is will we squeak a 5th inning out of Castillo or is he done for the day.

  21. Thom has an opinion on everything including his own opinions. He gives me a headache.

  22. 8 K’s in four innings is great for Castillo. If he can be a little more efficient and get a little more control, this guy is something special.

  23. You took the words right out of my mouth.Guess the intentional walk in the 5th inning of 2-0 ballgame to load the bases wasn’t such a good idea.Talk about strange with no outs.

  24. Lets make sure Adelman gets in this game, so he isn’t the one that starts for Feldman

    • Ask and you shall receive.May be a blessing we had this beat down today.Could be we see somebody called up.

  25. Works for me.I guess Storen wasn’t the right choice today.Might as well just put it on a tee and save the pen.

  26. Good game to give some guys a blow.Votto,Billy,Duvall need to set down and let some other guys play.This game is over.

  27. Price showing his managerial skills by doing the old double switch.Another year of this stuff is going to be hard to take.

    • The double switch accomplishes 2 things. It saves the bullpen as you do not need to pinch hit for the pitcher while hoping Adleman gives the team a few innings. It allows the manager to replace a position player and give someone on the bench some playing time.

      • I know and agree but its an 8 run game and I suggested he start pulling guys to give others a chance to play.This is not a strategic move.Pull guys now let Aldeman pitch till his arm falls off and let him take a hack or two if need be.My way accomplishes the same thing and gets more people some playing time.Over managing impresses nobody.Billy just hit in the 6th inning of a meaningless game down 8-0 while Irvin and Winker watched him.

  28. Would be a good idea to give Irvin or Winker an at bat and give Billy a break.Oops to late guess its better to watch him strike out.He may have another double switch in mind so lets be patient.I am sick of myself so I am gone.

  29. Fire Price already. Aren’t the owners supposed to be business people that expect results?!

    • I’m not a Price defender by any stretch, but the offense only scored 1 run. Castillo gave up 2. Storen didn’t do his job.

      If you want to argue Price’s lineup limited their ability to score runs, ok. If you want to say he didn’t inspire the players, ok. But he honestly had little specifically to do with this loss.

      • I’m referring to the results of the past 4 seasons and zero sign of improvement.

  30. Schebler is under team control through 2022, Duvall is under team control through 2021, and Winker doesn’t have a year of service time. … Is Billy’s defense worth the lost offense and the raise he’ll get in first-year arbitration?

      • And Ervin gets a hit. There is no reason why he shouldn’t have been in Centerfield today over Billy. Billy sucks against lefties. Billys offense is atrocious. Like I’ve said before everytime you get a rally going the weak hitter is up and ends it. Why isn’t Turner starting today either? Tucker needs a day off and they will never find out what they have in turner.

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