2017 Reds / Titanic Struggle Recap

Reds grab early lead, don’t look back against Pirates

Final R H E
Cincinnati Reds (58-77) 7 9 0
Pittsburgh Pirates (63-72) 3 7 1
W: Asher Wojciechowski (4-3)  L: Gerrit Cole (11-9)
FanGraphs Win Probability | Box Score | Game Thread | Statcast

Last Saturday, Gerrit Cole almost single-handedly beat the Reds by throwing seven shutout innings and hitting a solo homer for the only run of the game. That was his first career win against the Reds, who — for whatever reason — have owned him during his five-year big-league career.

He was not able to pick up his second victory against them on Friday night. The Cincinnati offense went back to their old ways against Cole, scoring five runs in six innings against him en route to a 7-3 win, their 10th victory in 14 games against the Pirates this year.

Here’s how today’s game went down:

The Hitters

The three, four, and five hitters in the Reds lineup punished Pirates pitchers tonight, racking up a combined seven hits, three runs, and four runs batted in. Joey Votto (2-for-4, 2B, RBI), Adam Duvall (2-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R), and Scooter Gennett (3-for-4, 3B, RBI, 2 R) were the catalysts in the Reds’ offensive charge. Eugenio Suarez also knocked in a pair of runs.

The Cincinnati offense wasted little time before jumping on the scoreboard against Cole. The first four hitters of the game got on base for the Reds, and the team didn’t look back from there. A single by Billy Hamilton, a walk to Zack Cozart, an RBI double by Votto, and a two-run double by Duvall quickly put the Reds up 3-0.

With two outs in the third, the Reds got to Cole for another run, as Duvall singled, moved to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a single by Gennett. Scooter tripled to lead off the fifth inning and scored on a sacrifice fly by Suarez. The Reds tacked on two more in the eighth.

The Hurlers

As he did two starts ago, Luis Castillo struggled with his pitch efficiency. He lasted only four innings, exiting the game after throwing 89 pitches. While his pitch count was low enough that he probably could’ve pitched a fifth inning, he’s approaching his innings limit and the Reds are being cautious with him.

Despite the short outing, Castillo struck out five and allowed only two runs on three hits and a walk. All of the damage against him came in the second inning, as the young right-hander threw 38 pitches in the frame. But, as he has all season long, he showed tremendous poise and didn’t let that inning rattle him. He retired all six Pirates batters in the third and fourth innings, four of them via strikeout.

Asher Wojciechowski, as he has been all season, was rock solid in relief, allowing one hit and one walk in two scoreless innings. The former first-round pick is making a compelling case for a bullpen spot next season; his ERA as a reliever now sits at 1.74.

Wandy Peralta fired a perfect seventh inning. There’s little doubt he’ll be a part of the Reds’ relief corps in 2018.

The second-half slump continued for Drew Storen in the eighth, as he gave up a run on three hits. He has a 7.45 ERA since the all-star break.

Kevin Shackelford finished the game with a perfect ninth inning. His ERA (6.87) isn’t pretty, but the peripherals (4.30 xFIP) are a bit more promising thanks to his above-average strikeout (23.9 K%) and ground-ball rate (57.1%). The 28-year-old has nibbled a bit at times, which has gotten him into some trouble (10.2 BB%), but if he improves his command of the strike zone, he has a shot to be in the bullpen next year.

Not-So-Random Thoughts

— George Grande and Chris Welsh talked a lot about Cozart and whether to extend a qualifying offer to the shortstop after the season. Others have written on this subject at Redleg Nation, but I’ll offer my two cents, as well. I believe I’m in the majority in that I don’t think that would be a wise move. I’m not sure he would turn down an approximate $18 million deal. And paying that kind of money to a 32-year-old, injury-prone shortstop, even for one year, doesn’t seem like a good idea.

— We all know running on Tucker Barnhart is a bad idea, but Stuart Turner showed you shouldn’t underestimate his arm, either. The catcher fired a missile right on the second base bag to throw out Starling Marte — one of the league’s best base stealers — and end the fifth inning.

— Zach Vincej made his big-league debut as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning. The former 37th-round draft pick grounded out to shortstop.

— Fun fact: Vincej is the first Reds player to wear No. 12 since Edwin Encarnacion in 2007.

— Suarez isn’t going to beat out Nolan Arenado or Anthony Rendon for the Gold Glove at third base, but he could be one of the top-three finalists. He ranks fourth in defensive runs saved (8) and third in UZR/150 (5.4).

— This happened:

Up Next

It’s Tyler Mahle time. Following a solid debut on Sunday, Mahle (5.40 ERA, 5.21 xFIP) will make his second big-league start on Saturday evening, once again facing off against Jameson Taillon (4.75 ERA, 3.90 xFIP). First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. ET.

28 thoughts on “Reds grab early lead, don’t look back against Pirates

  1. Could it be Billy has found the key to becoming a better hitter?Tune in tomorrow and lets see.

  2. Typo – final score 7-2, not 5-2. Great game. I wish the starter would have been a little more economical with his pitches, but he’s a rookie, he will learn to throw more strikes.

    • Turner is just less than a year younger than Barnhart; so he has pretty much the same level of game experience plus wear and tear on his body from catching as Barnhart.
      Some folks would say it is actually easier (physically) to catch at MLB than in the minors because the pitching is more refined and reliable. So, I think in regards to his receiving skills we should probably view Turner as at or near his ceiling. On the hand, there doesn’t seem to be a huge difference between Turner’s and Barnhart’s offensive stats in the minors. Who know?

      Either way Turner is an interesting case to me in that the Twinks didn’t view him as valuable enough to rate a 40 man roster spot last winter while conversely the Reds have put up with considerable inconvenience to keep him on their in season 25 man roster.

    • I’m thrilled that the Reds stuck with the program an retained the rule 5 draftee for the season. That was a challenge and a struggle. Having Turner at AAA and readily available for the I-71 shuttle next season will be a bonus. The minor league catching situation leaves a lot to be desired right now.

  3. Post game, Doug Flynn gently disagreed with the philosophy of pulling Castillo after 4 innings and 89 pitches. He said that at some point he thinks you have to see how they handle pitching while fatigued. He also qualified it by noting that he wasn’t a pitcher.

    • I felt like he should have been given the opportunity to go out and complete the 5th. From what I understand of the studies I’ve seen in the past, there’s not much difference in fatigue factor or pitcher effectiveness until after 120 pitches. His arm was already warmed up so why not see if he could get through the next inning.

      • I thought the same but it really doesn’t matter.As Matt said he got them 1,2,3 in his last two innings but still he threw a ton of pitches to get 12 outs.I said on the game thread that the slider will be very important for him going forward.Others have said the same thing and it doesn’t have to be a strike for it to be effective.His speed difference of 10 mph between his fastball and change are good enough but mixing that slider at saying 90/91 with some sharp break will take him to the next level.Bouncing a few is ok because it just gives the hitter another pitch to worry about.

      • Castillo actually looked like he was getting stronger. I think his velocity was off in the first two innings (he really labored in the 2nd inning), and he was going to his secondary pitches. In the 3rd and 4th, he was throwing harder. We’ve seen the same with Homer (prior to his TJ surgery). But I think that Castillo is now such a prize potential pitcher, nobody wants to goof that up with him.

        Shackleford this year is a little reminiscent of Peralta last year. Showed good velocity and pitches, but was inconsistent. A lot of people were down on Wandy Peralta at the end of last year, but it takes some time for the young guys to step up to the greater challenge of pitching in the Bigs. Location, throwing strikes, getting ahead in the count.

        • Meaningless game but I was going to write in the game thread I liked that Shack closed it out without walking guys and causing us to wonder if he could get 3 outs.Seems like unless its Iggy in the ninth regardless of the score I always worry.Castillo did get stronger and not because he fanned 4 of the last 6 he faced .Another mark of a potential ace in that you better get him early or you won’t.

      • Does it really matter in September if Castillo goes out and pitches the 5th in a meaningless game? I’d rather look to the future than present.

        • In the grand scheme of things, no. In the context of last night, not really, especially as the bullpen is expanded in September. Does getting a win make him a better pitcher? No. Should fans care about wins and losses for pitchers? No, it’s a team game.

          For a guy that’s 2-7 it may have a little bit more personal meaning. I don’t know how Castillo feels about it. Maybe he doesn’t care and has a more progressive attitude when it comes to counting stats. Personally, as a competitive person, if I were in the situation I would have liked the opportunity to complete the 5th to put myself in position to get a win. Especially as part of his future arbitration earnings will be affected by wins and losses (even we all agree it shouldn’t be the case, the arbitration panel still gives weight to these things).

          And to your other point, throwing an extra 20-25 pitches would have zero bearing on his future.

    • I think the Reds went into the game with the mindset to give Castillo a short start, which puts him at 161 IP’s this year. Wojo was warming up as early as the 2nd inning, which indicates he was probably on a very short leash to begin with. He might get 1 more short start. If they are going to shut him down, I think they would have let him pitch the 5th last night.

      • Castillo said after the game that he has 1 more start this year. At least that’s what the Reds MLB site put in their game recap.

    • i always like to see a starter be able to finish fifth but it really has no meaning. Wins for pitchers is worthless stat and even winning this game had no meaning except it makes us feel good. At least this might allow Castillo to get an additional start.

  4. I think regardless of one’s feelings about Cozart and his ceiling/continued viability, a qualifying offer is a mistake. An accepted QO brings back Cozart at a high salary for a single season. We’ll be having this same discussion next year about what to do with Cozart (even though he won’t be eligible for another QO after ’18). The 2018 Reds won’t be competing for a division crown so there’s no sense in having a high priced veteran on a one year bridge contract.

    With that being said, I like Cozart and would be totally on board with extending him. Ideally he is still producing in a couple of years and a longer term deal would allow him to contribute to The Next Good Reds Team. A 3/$30MM deal with a team option on year 3 seems like a good deal to me.

    Obviously if the club thinks he won’t be part of the aforementioned team, they need to make the tough decision and let him walk. To me the QO is the worst of all worlds.

    • At the end of this season Zack Cozart’s career earnings will be just over $12M. That’s big money for most all of us but not really life defining money for a guy in his early 30’s to retire on. Also he knows this could likely be his only shot for a truly life defining contract. He is certainly going to see what the market will bring.

      If the Reds were likely to be players in that market, they almost certainly would have broached the topic of an extension by now which latest reports indicate hasn’t happened.

      The qualifying offer amount is $18M. If Cozart doesn’t see an offer of considerably more than that on the table elsewhere, he will come back to the Reds for the QO if it is made and hope he can keep his body and production together for a bigger deal for 2019.

      Thus the Reds need to decide if it is worth the risk of paying Cozart $18M for 2018 to alternately gain the additional compensation pick they would get if Cozart refused a Qo.

      • Also wonder whether paying him the qualifying offer would make him pretty much untradeable at the deadline next season. Just renting Cozart for two months would cost his new team $6 million-ish, whereas this year it would have cost them maybe a little over $1 million. And to get much in return, the Reds might have to agree to pay a lot of what is owed to Cozart. … I’ve said this before, but if the Reds keep Cozart, I wish them luck in figuring out the rest of the middle infield, especially if Senzel shows he’s ready for the bigs by early in the season.

      • It’s not my $$$, but to me the only question is will the Reds be a better team next year with Cozart or without him? I’m sure some will disagree, but it’s pretty clear to me that the Reds will be better with Cozart playing SS 130 or so games next year.

        I think we’ll find out how management views the teams 2018 chances on whether they offer Cozart an offer. Personally, I think they’re pretty good.

  5. I agree Bryan.He should test the waters because he has earned the right to do so.Not sure what the market will be but I just don’t see the Reds signing him.Good luck Zack.

  6. You have to been a bean counter while entertaining thoughts of resigning Cozart. Too much bank for an injury prone player with younger, cheaper options waiting in the wings. Besides, there’s already just a handful of players taking up a huge chunk of next year’s salary cap unless one or two are moved in the offseason.

  7. I can’t imagine giving Cozart an 18 million dollar qualifier! I could see offering him 14 for 2 years with it being incentive heavy and a club option with aa million dollarr buy out!!!!!! The lack of interest.in him in the trade market should be a big incentive to sign an extension! The painfully obvious lack of an option at SS makes it or should at least a good idea for the Reds! The only reason I could think of not trying to extend him around those numbers is Senzel being ready and shifting Saurez back tp short!!!! Those are not based in reality!!!!!!! There have been empugh flashes from the starters on the last month tjat makes me think this team needs to putting the now on the field in 18 not the future!!!!!!!! I was writing tjis and I heard they picked up Prices option for 18 so I can pray I live to see the 19 version!!!!!!!

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