Tonight the Reds face the Cardinals in the middle game of this 3 game road series. Last night’s series opener started on a high note for the Reds; but, things then took a quick and permanent turn to the south for the Reds. Tonight they will be looking to turn things back their way.
Righthander Tyler Mahle makes his fourth MLB start for the Reds tonight. Mahle followed an OK MLB debut versus the Pirates with an outstanding second start, also versus the Pirates. Then last time out against the Mets he came a cropper. At least that was the popular narrative. The numbers suggest however that the biggest difference in the perception of his first and third starts may have been that his second start created an expectation which went unfulfilled when he appeared to founder last time out. Have a look for yourself.
As the 22 year old Mahle takes the mound tonight, keep in mind he started this season in Class AA and had pitched to within 10 innings of his previous seasonal high water mark of innings before he got the call up to MLB. Most importantly do not forget that progress is seldom straight arrow linear. One thing that has stood out about Mahle as he climbed through the minors is his poise and composure. I’ll be hoping to see him maintain those qualities regardless of results tonight in what figures to be by far the highest pressure situation he has been in to date.
Jack Flaherty, a 21 year old righthander will start for the Cardinals, making his third MLB start. You read correctly. In the middle of a pennant chase the Cardinals are giving the ball to a 21 year old guy called up as part of the September roster expansion process.
In a testament to the Cardinal way of doing thing, the Birds shipped Mike Leake who had been relatively ineffective for them this year off to Seattle on August 30 which opened the spot for Flaherty. In the process they pocketed considerable savings against Leake’s contract while picking up a 21 year old middle infield prospect, Rayder Ascanio, described as being a defensive whiz with a light bat. Expect Ascanio to routinely terrorize Reds pitching at some future date.
Back to Flaherty. He was the Cardinals 1st round draft pick (#34 overall) in the 2014 June draft out of high school. Like Mahle, Flaherty split his 2017 minor league season between class AA and AAA. In the minors he struck a high percentage of batters and walked very few, a description which also fits Mahle.
Here’s our comparative numbers based on the 2017 minor league performances. Click on the player’s name in the table to see his abbreviated MLB stats.
2017 Minor League Stats
Bryan Price took full advantage of his expanded roster to march a corps of bullpen suspects and prospects to the mound last night. If tonight’s game is competitive expect to see the bullpen A team. Otherwise, tryouts will likely continue.
Mike Matheny was also able to avoid taxing his top flight bullpen guys.
|1. Jesse Winker (RF)
2. Zack Cozart (SS)
3. Joey Votto (1B)
4. Eugenio Suarez (3B)
5. Scott Schebler (CF)
6. Adam Duvall (LF)
7. Jose Peraza (2B)
8. Tucker Barnhart (C)
9. Tyler Mahle (P)
|1. Matt Carpenter (3B)
2. Tommy Pham (LF)
3. Paul DeJong (SS)
4. Jose Martinez (1B)
5. Yadier Molina (C)
6. Kolten Wong (2B)
7. Stephen Piscotty (RF)
8. Harrison Bader (CF)
9. Jack Flaherty (P)
Looks like Scooter’s thumb is still inflamed. At least Bryan Price found the insight to keep Winker at #1 and Peraza where he belongs.
News and Notes
This could be the headline story of the coming off season….
For those who aren't night owls, big news: Shohei Otani is coming to MLB in 2018. All relevant details here. Column: https://t.co/M1DrkhAsKi
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) September 13, 2017
One good thing happened for the Reds last night…
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) September 13, 2017
But has the Reds pitching improved or somebody else’s gotten worse?
Reds (5.23 ERA) no longer have the highest team ERA in MLB. They were passed by the Tigers (5.24 ERA) last night.
— Joel Luckhaupt (@jluckhaupt) September 12, 2017
That team from up northeast just keeps on keeping on. Some guy named Jay Bruce played a major role today
Consecutive games with a victory
21 — Chicago Cubs, 1935
21 — CLEVELAND INDIANS, 2017
Tribe sets AL record with 5-3 win over Tigers.
— T.J. Zuppe (@TJZuppe) September 13, 2017
Yesterday I posed the question, how would Bryan Price manage games during the final weeks of the season? Last night once his starting pitcher faltered, he chose to immediately go with a corps of late season call up pitchers rather than his regular bullpen crew. I’ve got no bone to pick with Price over this call. Such is the way the game is played in September when a team is out of contention. But the is way the game is played in September the way it should be played with postseason spots on the line?
If I were Joe Maddon or Craig Counsell might I be looking at last night’s Reds/ Cardinals line score, see that the Reds plated 4 runs off of Lance Lynn in 5 innings and wonder what might have been if Price had played the game straight by using his regular bullpen crew at least until the game was further along instead of the group that allowed 7 of the Cardinals 13 runs?
Changing the September roster expansion process to minimize its impact on games was on the to do list when MLB’s collective bargaining agreement was renegotiated last off season but did not happen. Scuttlebutt has it that because higher priority issues took longer than anticipated to settle, they simply ran out of time to work out the dollars and cents side of common sense changes both MLB and the players wanted to make to the roster expansion process. Here is a discussion of the issues and one possible remedy. Now there is talk roster expansion may be revisited this off season. I hope so. Go Reds!