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.

Starting Pitchers

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
Tyler Mahle 2.06 0.60 5.3% 24.5%
Jack Flaherty 2.81 0.70 6.2% 25.3%


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….

One good thing happened for the Reds last night…

But has the Reds pitching improved or somebody else’s gotten worse?

That team from up northeast just keeps on keeping on. Some guy named Jay Bruce played a major role today



Final Thoughts

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!

Stats and data courtesy of Baseball Reference, Fangraphs, and
Twitter: @jn_walkerjr

Join the conversation! 54 Comments

  1. Playing your best players against contending teams is one of those things that comes up.I personally feel this is a time that we must find out about our team first and everything else comes second.The guys he brought in to pitch were brought up to do just what they did in a blow out game with no pressure.He played his regulars although as banged up as Duvall and Cozy are he should have played Ervin and that young short stop they brought up.

    • As I said in the preview, I have no issues with the way Price played the game. My issue is that the rules are set up to allow games to be played this way down the stretch of the pennant races.

      With all the analytics today, it shouldn’t be that difficult to come up with a floating projection of which teams have a realistic chance of making the playoffs. At the least, in games where either team is considered to be in legitimate playoff contention, active rosters should be limited to whatever the pre expansion limit is; and furthermore there should be stipulations regarding the number of pitchers and position guys which would comprise that number of active players. Players who are on the MLB expanded roster but not active for a particular game would still receive MLB pay and service time for those games.

  2. “he came a cropper.”

    I have no idea what that means but since OldJim typed it, I will quote it and use it frequently in my speech (once I figure out what on earth a “cropper” is. I assume it is not so good..

    • I heard “he came a cropper” a lot as a child, as my parents were born in Kentucky and I still have a lot of relatives there.

      We took it to mean “came up short”/”second best”.

      Which reminds me, Keeneland FTW. Great place to people watch and spend an afternoon with family and friends.

      Am going on Oct. 21. Felt comfortable saying yes on a ticket that the Reds would not be in the World Series.

      I guess that makes me a bad fan, and ineligible for the Joe Nuxhall Memorial Fan of the Game for the rest of this season.

      • I was raised maybe 30 miles north of the Ohio river along what is now US route 68. That pretty much passes for northern KY as far as a lot of the culture.

        • Whereabouts on 68? That’s my neck of the woods, at least growing up, but I’ve never heard the word cropper and I’d never consider it northern Kentucky!

          • Midland and Martinsville. Attended elementary in Blanchester and Martinsville; Jr high at Martinsville. 1 year at Wilm. Hi then moved to western Ohio near Richmond, Ind

          • I grew up in Oregonia and went to Clinton-Massie K-12. My best friend from high school lived on a 300 acre farm just north of Wilmington near 68.

          • Hammer>> I think the KY related cultural divide is somewhere south of Wilmington. Certainly not as far north and west as Oregonia although Clarksville may be in the gray area.

    • Here is what a proper dictionary has to say on the matter

      Essentially it means to fail

      The reference apparently refers back to falling off a horse head first since the lower quarters of a horse are known as the “croup or “crupper”

      • Oh, wow.

        I have relatives that live in that area, some close (ish) to the river in Ripley and other further up, around Georgetown.

        Definitely agree about it being N Ky like in culture.

        • I was raised in southern Clinton County about 10 miles south of Wilmington. Those 30 miles were as crow flies miles, not road miles 😉

        • Georgetown, Ohio, the childhood home of General Ulysses S. Grant.

  3. Very encouraging…Winker hitting leadoff with Peraza in the lineup! Price’s lineup actually looks pretty good. Persoanlly I would like to see Suarez in the #2 hole (assuming Votto is locked into the #3 hole) with Cozart hitting cleanup, but that’s just quibbling. Both Suarez and Cozart have very high OBP with a 13% walk rate, but Cozart has a significantly higher SLG and significantly less speed than Suarez. I really like Schebler and Duvall hitting behind the high OBP hitters wher their power and lack of on–base skills maximizes their offensive productivity. Let’s hope this lineup clicks and gets Price’s attention before Hamilton comes off the DL.

  4. Congratulations to Jay Bruce on his 33rd home run today in helping the Indians win 21 in a row.
    Great Red who clearly has some more left.

    • He’s having a great (and seemingly fairly consistent) year this year. I’m happy that he’s having some sustained success and hope he adds a world series ring to his accomplishments this year.

  5. I going to watch this pretty closely! Its a big start for Tyler Mahle. Obviously, he’s only had 3 fairly short starts but .978 ops vs lefties and .604 vs righties. You can kind of see that with his delivery. His ball seems to run in on righties and jam them. The Cards have only 1 lefty w/Carpenter tonite, so maybe Tyler will have a good night?

    Does anyone know if they’re planning to shut Mahle down shortly? He could be a big pickup for fantasy playoffs because he’s on track for 2 starts next week!

  6. Winker! I was concerned about his lack of power, but I think he’d hit 20+ Hrs easily with fulltime atbats!

  7. And a Gold Glove? (Based on that catch).

  8. I like Tyler but he needs some work! He gets Piscotty down 0-2 and throws a meatball right down the middle. Now he gets Carp down 0-2 and nibbles and walks him. Hope he escapes again. but way too many pitches

    • I feel like Mahle has really been getting squeezed. Several of the pitches called balls have been well within the strike zone on Foxtrax and my eyeballs. I’m watching the game on the Cards broadcast since I live in STL. They may claim to have the best fans in baseball (they don’t, just the most annoying), but their announcers are arguably the worst. I can’t stand listening to these idiots.

      • I totally agree!! I’ve seen alot more squeezing this year. No wonder HRs are up!

  9. Cozart needs to fix the hole in his glove!

  10. Ruled a hit….lol?? Cmon?? 6-4-3 but Zack can barely move and bend over. He’s 32 going on 42. No way they should resign him!!

    • I respect the job Cozart has done reinventing himself offensively. I respect even more that he is out their soldiering away trying to find ways to compensate for his leg issues onn defense. However I agree with you that it would be a terrible business decision to pay him anything approaching market value with the expectation he is going to play middle infield 5-6 days a week. He needs to find a home in the DH league where he is an everyday batter and occasional fielder.

      • I agree Jim and wonder by playing right now is he hurting or helping himself.Surely we can see his range isn’t good at all.

        • I think the fact he is playing and producing offensively has to be helping him at least with DH league teams. And maybe there is an NL team that thinks they could hide him defensively at 1B, LF (if they have a CF to cover the gaps) or even 3B.

  11. Mahle at 65 pitches in 3rd inning. Things are going sideways.

    • 3.00 era but 1.67 whip so far for Mr. Mahle. A 1.67 whip won’t keep you in the majors for long! I like him though. He’ll make adjustments. He’s never had control problems in the minors.

      • Mahle was squeezed by the ump. The Cards broadcast made a point of showing the strike zone box and how he got squeezed a couple times on non third strike calls.

  12. Chris Welsh – “I thought that was what the last 2 years was for (pitching auditions).”

    I just knew he was a secret lurker here at RLN.

    (Careful, Chris. Going against the company line is what got Jim Day fired from the Blue Jackets).

  13. Something tells me they’ll find a way to screw up this review.

    • Well, how about that. I don’t like being pessimistic like that, but there have been some very perplexing reviews this season.

  14. Suarez Grand Slam!!!!!

  15. Joey a hit and Suarez clears the bases with a slam!

  16. Thank goodness Suarez is batting 4th.

  17. Yeah Baby!!! Suarez with the Granny!! You know what set that inning up? Mahle is a young guy and decent athlete. He beat that force out at 2nd….Arroyo, Feldman, Adleman, etc etc. None of those guys beat that out! Thats why I like Lorenzen as well! A good athlete and that helps!

  18. A rookie pitcher hustling and sliding has turned an entire game.

    Baseball is the best. Can literally see something new every day.

    • Absolutely! Looks like Mahle is settling in now that he has some run support after the last half inning!

  19. Mahle just looks like he belongs in the big leagues.Not because of how he’s pitched its how he looks when he pitches if that makes any sense.

    • He looks like a 6 year veteran! I think all he’s going to need is to refine the change-up and maybe add a split vs lefties or something? He’s got a little crossfire action thats always going to be tough on most righties!

      • Agree, but looks like he needs something that breaks more for the “out pitch.”

  20. If the Reds finish this with a shutout, it will be the third time in 8 games in Saint Louis this season that they will have blanked the Cardinals.

    Back in April, Garrett and Feldman were the winning pitchers in shutouts. (That all feels like it was 4 years ago).

    It’s enough to even make “Baseball’s Best Fans” a little salty, especially in a tight playoff race.

  21. A real good win for all concerned. Tough to complain about this one.

  22. Cards fans can be as salty as they want; this one belongs to the Reds!

Comments are closed.

About Jim Walker Twitter: @jn_walkerjr


2017 Reds


, , , , , , , ,