2017 Reds / Titanic Struggle Recap

Recap: Redlegs win series, finish August with a winning record.

Final R H E
New York Mets (58-75) 2 7 1
Cincinnati Reds (57-77) 7 9 0
W: Stephenson (3-4) L: deGrom (14-8)
FanGraphs Win Probability | Box Score

The Good
–Another strong outing for Bob Stephenson: six innings, two runs allowed on five hits. He struck out 7 and walked 3, and picked up the win over Jacob deGrom. Still some issues with command, but he’s making progress.

–Scooter Gennett had a double, a home run (his 23rd) and 3 RBI. Eugenio Suarez had two more hits (his OBP is up to .386) and scored a run.

–Joey Votto (34) and Stuart Turner (2) each homered. Turner’s was a two-run blast in the eighth inning that provided the final margin of victory.

–Classic BillyBall run in the 3rd inning. Hamilton singled to lead off the frame, and promptly stole second. Votto grounded to Mets shortstop Amed Rosario, who rushed the throw, trying to get Hamilton at third. The throw got away, and Hamilton scored on the error.

–Really strong outing for Michael Lorenzen, throwing two shutout innings.

The Bad
–Nothing bad.

Not-So-Random Thoughts
–Reds win the series, taking two of three from the Metropolitans. The good ol’ Redlegs finished August with a winning record (15-14). Baby steps?

As Joel Luckhaupt noted, that broke a string of six consecutive losing months for this franchise. It was only their third winning month since Bryan Price was hired.

–Good timing by Bob Steve, given the fact that I talked about the progress from the young pitchers just this morning. I’m getting kinda excited about Stephenson, Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle, and Sal Romano.

–Loved seeing Turner hit a home run. I guess fatherhood is working for him, and young Easton Michael Turner was the good luck charm today. (Congrats, Stuart!)

–I presume we’ll hear the entire story at some point, but there was a poignant moment during today’s game. There was an adorable young fan behind home plate today — I don’t want to make any assumptions, but he appeared to be six or seven years old and didn’t have any hair. Early in the game, Votto handed him a baseball.

Well, after Votto’s 7th inning home run, he stepped on home plate, then went over and gave the kid a high-five. A moment later, Votto reached his home run bat over the net and gave it to the kid. A few minutes later, Votto returned with his jersey and gave it to the kid. It was a really sweet moment.

Joey Votto is the bestest.

UPDATE
Apparently, the young man is 6 year-old Walter Herbert — Superbubz! — and he’s bravely fighting stage 4 high-risk neuroblastoma. You can check out his Facebook page here.

–Reds will now head to Pittsburgh for a weekend series. Luis Castillo will start tomorrow night. (And if the raindrops cancel my kids’ baseball/softball tournaments, I’m going to try to head up to Pittsburgh myself.)

Today’s Tweets

60 thoughts on “Recap: Redlegs win series, finish August with a winning record.

  1. Good game, good month. Now it is starting to look a little like late 2009 getting ready for 2010.
    JV the bestest, ever. Why there isn’t a Captain’s “C” on his jersey I don’t know.

      • From what I’ve heard and observed, Votto is more of a “lead by example” kind of guy instead of an in-your-face, rah-rah captain type. He is by all accounts a very private guy, and has had issues with anxiety in the past. I don’t think he’s interested in being looked at as a leader, at least not in the traditional sense.

        Mesoraco I think had the kind of personality to be the captain, but I’d be happy with him just staying healthy for a year at this point. Besides him, the Reds don’t really have someone that I view as “Captain” material. Rolen was the last person that I think even came close, but he wasn’t here long enough.

        • I didn’t see Larkin as an in your face type either but maybe I just wasn’t paying attention. If they approached him and he declined, I’m more than fine with that. I just hope they would (or have) give him the opportunity to accept or decline.

          • Agree with your thoughts Jazz,

            CI3J, just based on how Votto teaches and influences his teammates (and watching a lot of them improve their approaches at the plate), I’d say that Votto does more than just lead by example. Several of them have said that he has taken the time to work with them to improve their hitting. Just one example that might dispel the narrative that he’s not interested in being a leader.

    • As to all the accolades in Robby’s 82nd b-day mention, don’t forget the 1966 Triple Crown for the O’s after being traded for Milt Pappas as an “old 31-year-old”. I’d love–just once–to be old like that…

      What a class act, and perhaps the most underrated, do-it-all human bean in MLB history. A very happy birthday, Frank!

  2. “I’m getting kinda excited about Stephenson, Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle, and Sal Romano.”

    Add Adleman or Anthony (DeSclafani) and you have the SCRAM rotation.

    Or we could get Estrada from the Blue Jays and make it SCREaM.

  3. A series win and another nice outing for Stephenson. But the real stars of this game were 6 year old Walter Herbert, a.k.a. Superbubz and Joey Votto.

  4. BobSteve keeps going out and showing longer and longer glimpses of elite stuff. Yes, as good as Castillo (plus fastball/change), just in a different way (plus slider/change). If he can limit the home runs, the poor-not-horrible walk rate won’t kill him because he has the ability to pitch his way out of trouble via the strikeout. Pretty normal stuff for a young pitcher. I see similar traits in Lorenzen—poor fastball command, but a plus changeup (threw a couple today that were filthy) and slider.

    With the calender turning to September and with the rotation spots seemingly closed off for the time being, you have to wonder what the future of starting holds for Garrett and Reed. Personally, I’ve always thought they were better suited to relieving and would like to see them called up to work out of the bullpen the rest of the season.

    • I agree on this new guy Bob Stephenson. He has a mix of quality stuff which adds up to having a legit out pitch; and it is hard to overvalue the importance of having such a pitch. The home runs are going to happen. What he has to do is limit the free passes so that like with Cueto, they are solo shot and not game breakers.

  5. Not to beat a dead horse — but — there were only two guys in the lineup that got five at bats today. Neither are named Votto or Suarez. Both have an OBP below 300.

    I would not have guessed we had a winning record in August. May September be even better than August.

    • Unfortunately, Price will look at the 7 runs and think his lineup was correct.

  6. We should squelch the narrative that the light has gone on for Peraza in the bud. His OPS for August didn’t even crack .700. He’s back to his usual ways at the plate, and the over the shoulder catch he didn’t make today was a head scratcher. If the Reds are adamant about not moving Suarez and my only choice is Peraza or the QO for Cozy, I’m signing Cozy without blinking. The pitching staff will be manned by league minimum/cost controlled players, so there’s zero reason to hold your nose and hand Peraza 500 at-bats in 2018.

    • Peraza has 8 walks in 62 ABs for August, good for a nearly 13% walk rate. It’s a very small sample size, but just remember he had only 5 walks in the entire first half of the season. His OBP for the month of August was .380.

      You would have to wonder what regular playing time would do to his development and also his confidence. He has clearly made some adjustments, but Price has responded by benching him. I get that Scooter is having a breakout season, but he’s really just not good enough defensively, and he’s also 27. Peraza is 23 and still has a lot of room to grow.

      Peraza needs to play as much as possible in September, just like Winker (when healthy) and Ervin need to play. It’s pointless to have all these young guys if you never give them a chance to develop.

      • A start or maybe 2 at SS per week and playing over Scooter against LHP would be good work for Peraza in my opinion. I have seen an unexpected improvement out of him in the plate-discipline department and he’s still only 23. I’m not a fan, but with Cozart’s quad and Scooter’s platoon splits, finding 3 games or more a week for Peraza shouldn’t be hard.

        • It really is just that easy LW…for everyone exceot Price. Cozart sits 30%-40% of the time to rest his quad. The Reds face LH starting pitchers ~30% of the time. Peraza should get EVERY start at SS and 2B in those situations. Throw in sending Peraza to the plate as the 1st RH PH off the bench when he doesn’t start and there ya go.

          The OBP is the single most important offensive contribution for Peraza. He will not be a slugger, so simply getting on base for every other hitter in the lineup would suffice. Peraza may not be the best answer at SS or 2B, but he should be playing regularly now to find out how good he can be before the roster becomes innundated with middle IF prospects. Can you say Herrera, Blandino, Perez, Dixon & Long, not to mention Senzel?

      • I agree but it won’t happen.Price sent Duvall up in the 8th ahead 5 runs and he never came close on his two swings and then walked.Adam doesn’t even need to move away from the bench at all unless its to get a drink or something to eat.Irvin should have been up there instead.Pointless use of a guy that is dead tired.Expecting to see the youngsters would be the right thing to so but when has that mattered to Price.

  7. Seeing a young kid like that battling cancer makes me reflect on how lucky I am to be relatively healthy (other than really bad knees) and to have a healthy, happy daughter. Glad he got a ball, the jersey, and some personal attention from the Reds biggest star.

    • Yeah when my biggest concern is whether Ervin or Duvall should have pinch hit today, my life is pretty darn good.

  8. Very good to see Stephenson competing. Keep giving him( and Romano and Mahle) the ball every 5th day.
    Joey Votto is a true sports hero.

    Why is Hamilton’s WAR so low this year? He’s playing at his career averages. His defense is still in the top 3 for center fielders league-wide by UZR. Is it because MLB centerfielders are good at defense too and far better at offense?

    • Just to clarify there is a positional adjustment in WAR so Hamilton isn’t being evaluated against just center fielders. He is being evaluated with all players. And the reason his WAR is down this year is that his defense is down as well as his offense. Since there has been an increase in runs this year, the runs per WAR has gone up so the runs he has produced/saved this year are not worth as much as they would be in years where runs are at a premium.

      • Is his defense down or does more home runs and better offense mean the game is changing and his value as a speedy CF isn’t what it was even the last few years ? Thanks for the response.

        • Everything for Hamilton, including his defense, is down slightly this year. A run saved is just as good as a run created. But since there are more runs this year, he would have to save more runs than he would in a year where total runs were lower to maintain that same WAR and he hasn’t done that so far, if that makes sense.

          • It makes sense, but in doing so it may reveal a shortcoming in the measurement: The runs he saves might very well matter as much to the outcome of a given game as they would in a different year.

          • This exactly.

            Even his base running value is down.

            If we’re looking for something underlying, his Hard Hit % is the lowest its been (15.5%).

            Also, Hamilton is aging. Speak peaks somewhere around 20. Then declines. He’s a step slower than he was when he came up. He’s probably not even the fastest player in MLB anymore. That hurts his base running and defense figures.

            Hamilton, in my opinion, is quickly closing in on the point where he’s nothing more than a 4th outfielder and pinch runner. It’s unfortunate. But, he’s been unable to learn how to bunt, and his physical stature doesn’t allow him to be a good hitter.

  9. All in all a pretty good game. Stephenson still has some control issues but definitely looks better. Price still has lineup issues and has been looking worse lately. Hamilton – Peraza 1-2 is ridiculous. I applaud the day off for Duvall, but, hello? Ervin please not Kivlehan. And finally, Joey Votto is the Captain of this team, with or without the C on his jersey. Even the Mets announcers were gushing about Votto’s approach at the plate (leadership on the field) and with the young fans (off the field). It’s way past time to make that official.

  10. Yes, we finished August 15 & 14 but I’d hardly call that a signature winning month! Six consecutive losing months for this franchise. It was only their third winning month since Bryan Price was hired. Sure, let’s bring him back.

    • Not a Bryan Price fan but for the most part, he hasn’t had good talent to work with. Don’t want him back in 2018 and I’d be surprised if he’s brought back. Not all on him though. He was put in no-win situation.

      • Price had one job: To nurture a squad of young pitchers and positional players and oversee their development. His failure to do so last season and this season are reason enough for his dismissal, but it’s further exacerbated by his apparently “not giving any thought to” things like batting order. It’s true he was put in a situation where he was unlikely to win many games (in the short term), but that was not the point these last two seasons. Sadly, Price seems to think that winning WAS the point, and the development of young players has suffered as a result.

        We have seen and heard enough of Price’s coaching philosophy to know he is not the right manager for this team.

        • I’ll stipulate right up front that I’m not the biggest Price fan around, and I “think” the Reds can do better. Having said that, if “nurturing young players” was Price’s only job — and it most certainly was not — what didn’t he do?? Here’s just an off the top of my head list of the relatively young, still developing players who have improved and become legitimate big leaguers since April 2016, along with the number of years of team control after this season:

          Duvall (4)
          Schebler (5)
          Suarez (3)
          Barnhart (3)
          Iglesias (3)
          Stephenson (5)
          Romano (5-6?)
          Castillo (5-6?)
          Lorenzen (4)
          Mahle (5-5?)
          Peralta (5)

          Veterans who have maintained and/or stepped up their games:

          Votto
          Cozart
          Gennett

          Guys who were making big strides before injury:

          DeSclafini
          Finnegan

          Veterans, youngster who have stagnated or regressed:

          Hamilton
          Peraza
          Reed
          Garrett
          Davis

          Still unknown, but promising:

          Winker
          Ervin

          Man, that looks like pretty successful developmental baseball to me. Mostly hits, a few misses and a few unknowns. Players don’t develop on a schedule, even for their employers. And they surely don’t develop on a fans schedule. As far as developing talent, I think Price has done a pretty darn good job. I’ve been a Reds fan since the Big Red Machine, and I don’t recall such a talented collection of youngsters having success at the big league level in a long time, if ever.

          Now having said all that, I don’t really care much for Price’s lineups. I think Hamilton is totally miscast as a lead off hitter. I think Votto should bat 2nd. I would like to see more match-up based lineups. And so on. Also, I’m not a huge fan of the way he uses the bullpen, although he has improved in that area, especially given what he’s had to work with. And after 4 years, I just think a new voice is going to be needed for the Reds to take the next step. It’s for those reasons I’d like to see a change, not a lack of developing young talent.

          • I think this spot on. Plus, this team plays hard, has good chemistry, supports each other, and there doesn’t seem to be drama. For a team that’s lost as much as the Reds, it’s amazing the fingers haven’t pointed in every direction. He’s kept this team focused while playing rookie pitcher after rookie pitcher. And now, the rookie pitchers are turning a corner (small sample size caveat).

            This team hits well, defends well, and has a decent, if not exhausted bullpen. Price needed to develop young pitchers and, even though it took a while, these guys are starting to look good.

            My guess is that Price is an effective starting line-up away from looking like a genius.

          • I agree on the line up. At this point, I’d want Winker leading off, Suarez 2nd, Votto 3rd, and Cozart 4. Then I bat them in OPS order and then bat Hamilton 9th (or play Ervin and use Hamilton as a pinch runner or defensive sub).

            Also, I’d make Peraza earn his playing time. It’s just like a young pitcher and strike throwing – learn to get on base and you’ll play. Gennett is great for competition.

          • You neglected to add Mesoraco for regression, I’d put Stephenson and Winker and Ervin in the category of ‘developed slower than normal expectations’, Hoover and Woods for regression and poorly used in high leverage situations, Cingrani for woefully developed. Arroyo in the ‘starting opportunities wasted on a veteran’ category.

            Price doesn’t get credit yet for developing Castillo, Luis came up from AA pitching great. Mahle the same – one start in MLB, Price didn’t develop him.

          • Presented this way there will be many who agree that Price has done well. And yet there are so many issues with Price that I still have two big questions: However well you think he did at player development, would other managers have done better still? Is he a good choice to run a winning roster and team? The answers I have for these questions suggest Price is not the best option in 2018 and beyond.

          • Interesting analysis. I’m on the fence about Price, myself. Maybe I’m looking for a scapegoat? Change for the sake of change? I’ve been critical of some of his in-game decisions and his lineup construction, but the thought occurs to me that I don’t know enough to have a valid opinion about these things. Generally, people who do a particular thing for a living (medicine, car repair, plumbing, etc.) know more about those particular things than I do. They’ve had training and experience that I have not. Maybe the same thing applies to baseball.

          • Price didn’t develop Castillo, but few MLB managers develop the talent coming from the minors, talent that probably was playing well in AA or AAA before being called up.

          • Good job Tampa Red that is a good summary. Also a couple of counterpoints offered up. To fire Price is not as easy of a choice to make as many think. Lineups and bullpen usage is usually very dependent upon what players the front office provides you in the first place.
            One thing to add to your list would be to go back two seasonal months to August 1, 2015, after the Cueto and Leake trades, and list all the rookie pitchers Price had to use. Also from that list of names, list all the ones who made their MLB debut. It is brutal to think of all those inexperienced pitchers who took the mound. If you were climbing Mt. Everest, and all of your Sherpas had never climb the mountain, would you climb it still? Think of what Price has had to endure.
            One thing to point out to about Price, now with a fairly healthy lineup and maturing youngsters, they are seeming to look like they will finish the season on a strong note. Good momentum is being established for 2018. The 60-day DLers will be back this winter which adds a little to the momentum. But having good springs from those DLers is what will provide more momentum.
            However, a big trade this winter might even accelerate the momentum.
            One other thing about Price. Price hired hitting coach Don Long. Those hitters you listed above, all have prospered under Long’s tutelage. Suarez, Duvall, Cozart, Schebler, Barnhart and Mesoraco (when healthy) have all developed and adjusted with Long. Even Votto credits Long with some of his adjustments. You fire Price, and Don Long will be the hitting coach somewhere else. A new manager usually brings in their own coaching staff. Don Long doesn’t receive as much credit as he so richly deserves. And Price and Long form a nice coaching duo. Hopefully, the pitching coaches, Jenkins and Power, can have the success that Long has had with the hitters. The jury is still out on that.
            If Price is fired, you risk losing a lot of building momentum, and you seriously risk losing a great hitting coach.
            Many things to consider before firing Price and his coaching staff.

          • We could list all day the pros and cons of Price going or staying.Some say you can’t blame him for what he has to manage and therefore his record doesn’t reflect anything about him.Some say well look at what he has done and cite the improvements players have made.I say we blame him too much when things go wrong and give him too much credit when they go well.Problem for me is he is a Dusty disciple in old school mentality and being old school myself one would say what’s wrong with that?What’s wrong with it is we will get lucky with our pitchers next year and instantly dive in the mix for a play off spot.Do you want Price to manage that team with his Dustyisms of vets play and speed at the top etc etc already anchored in his mind to the point that doing something different never enters into his thoughts?.I don’t but I am afraid he wlll be back because he does have the backing of somebody that matters and of course none of do matter.

          • TB, I needed a post like this to improve my opinion of the organization. The struggles to find effective starting pitching and the lack of progress in the W-L record were weighing on me and making me start to wonder how long the team was going to be lost in the wilderness. The Reds are obviously not there yet, but they have made significant progress toward developing the solid base of a contending team.

          • I’m thinking I like Price. Not as much as I want to, but I see growth (in general) in wisdom, balance and–most importantly, methinks–stability.
            I really liked (still do) Pete Mackanin, but his long commitment to the Reds was evaporated when Dusty came in. Ownership and the times called for a “brand name,” so Pete was toast.

            I’m not a Dusty basher–he’d be at the very top of my list of MLB folks I’d like to hang out with to drink wine, whisky and listen to blues and R&B with (Joe Morgan close second)–but I’ve always hated the notion that the fastest guys are at the top of the lineup and the slowest (usually the catcher) at the end. Still, he brought a winning notion to a moribund, once-proud franchise, and I’m grateful for that.

            I’m still astonished how the 2012 playoffs with the Giants disintegrated. We SO had it. But those times are gone.

            I like how Price has expanded use of the top relievers…especially that he is open to utilizing top ‘pen talent (often Lorenzen) if a game-threatening crisis occurs in the middle innings. Dusty did that at the outset with Chapman, but then caved to cripple him as the locked-in “closer”. I liked Chappy best as a Swiss Army knife (or “Hammer of God”)..

            And we all know that Dusty too often left champion horses in the barn when the hay was already in flames.

            Price needs a company-funded getaway weekend with hypnotists who will try to break him of putting such pathetic (albeit speedy) on-base-averse folk as Hamilton and Peraza DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF (“Domo Arigato”) Mister Joe Votto.

            Then, give him a 3-year deal with strict-ish results required, and let him get back to work rehabbing the rotation. I think he’s A LOT closer to than I’m picking up here…

  11. A month ago, a week ago or even yesterday, who thought Bob Steve would beat deGrom? Wins against bad teams, I’m okay with that. You have to beat the teams you’re supposed to beat before you can start beating everybody.

    Joey Votto makes me smile, whether doing what he did today, hitting every day, stomping a paper airplane, throwing a ball out of the stadium or buying someone a donkey! How awesome to see that boy smiling. God bless him!

    • That’s a great comment about Votto…agree 100%. You left out being a Royal Canadian Mounty

  12. Seems like when teams are out of contention they play better. Just wonder what the 3 winning months were.

    • Well if you count back six months of consecutive losing records, you identify one of the remaining two months.

  13. June 2014: 18-10
    July 2016: 13-11
    August 2017: 15-14

    That’s a pretty good summer for most teams. Unluckily for the Reds, each month happened in a different year.

  14. Typing on a phone always a challenge for old guys. Have really enjoyed watching Stephenson start to figure it out. Think Bailey starting to look good.
    Desclafini the key for next year.

  15. Going to be very wet in Pittsburgh the next two days. Rainouts this late in the season are hard to make up. Going to need those call-ups this weekend maybe. Have the Reds announced any call-ups yet? I haven’t seen anything yet.

    • CTrent has listed 3 Reds roster moves so far. “Reds call up Ariel Hernandez, Zach Vincej; release Lisalverto Bonilla”.
      No surprise on Bonilla. Hernandez is a no-brainer. Good to see Vincej get a call-up. I’ll be happy to see him get some playing time to see what he can do. This is a somewhat important call-up, as it might have some ramifications on what the Reds decide to do about re-signing Cozart.

  16. Thanks for the winning months CI3J, 2014 they were only 7 games back but the last 2 they were out of it.

  17. I am glad.too SEE progress from Stephenson I was getting frustrated! The good as I see it him and some others on the pitching staff making progress they are still making to many pitches! The fact that young pitchers are not effecient is no big deal, as a fan of course I want it to be better!!!!! This team is going to be better quicker in spite of the FO not because of it!!!! The fact that the Reds paid Brandon Phillips to play well enough to get the Braves some prospects!!! The fact that the FO couldn’t get something for Cozarts just hilights the horrible lack of the IDIOTS that passes for managment!!!!!!!

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