2017 Reds / Titanic Struggle Recap / Titanic Sweep Recap

Recap: Six shutout innings from Robert Stephenson lead the Reds to a SWEEP of the Bucs

The Short Version: Robert Stephenson pitched six innings of one-hit, shutout ball, and the Reds played longball in the sixth inning — with home runs by Eugenio Suarez and Scooter Gennett — to secure a series sweep over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Final R H E
Pittsburgh Pirates (68-82) 2 3 0
Cincinnati Reds (66-84) 5 4 0
W: Stephenson (5-5) L: Cole (11-11) S: Lorenzen (2)
FanGraphs Win Probability | Box Score

The Good
–Another nice start from Robert Stephenson as he continues to improve over the course of this, his rookie season. Today, Stephenson threw six shutout innings, surrendering just one hit. He struck out eight and walked three.

–Despite that strong pitching, Stephenson was locked in a scoreless duel with Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole until the Reds hit in the bottom of the six. Jesse Winker — hitting lead off again today — drew a walk to begin the frame. Eugenio Suarez followed with a home run to center field, his 26th of the season. That was all the Reds would really need, but they weren’t finished.

The next hitter, Joey Votto, worked another walk off Cole, then Scooter Gennett hit a home run of his own — his 25th. That was all for Cole, but the Reds struck again in the inning, thanks to a Tucker Barnhart triple (!) that scored Zach Vincej (who had been hit by a pitch with two outs).

–Winker reached base twice today, with a single and a walk. Votto walked twice.

–The bullpen was largely effective after Stephenson left the stage. Deck McGuire pitched a scoreless inning, striking out two, and Michael Lorenzen pitched a perfect ninth to pick up his 2nd save of the season.

The Bad
–Luke Farrell gave up a walk and a two-run homer in his lone inning of work.

Not-So-Random Thoughts
–Sweep! That’s seven straight wins at Great American Ball Park for the ol’ Redlegs. Cincinnati hasn’t lost a game at home during the month of September.

–That’s Cincinnati’s second three-game sweep of the Pirates this season. Overall, the Reds won the season series against Pittsburgh, 13 games to 6.

–This start by Stephenson was really nice to see, especially coming on the heels of Sal Romano’s gorgeous start yesterday (eight shutout innings, six strikeouts, no walks). The bugaboo is always strikeouts with Stephenson, and he did walk three, but he continues to show signs that he’s getting it, for lack of a better term.

It’s really exciting to watch these young pitchers develop. It’s kinda what we’ve been asking for all season, right?

–Love this batting line from Vincej so far in his career: .000/.429/.000.

As Lance noted, the Reds have won 25 of their last 46 (25-21, dating back to the last game of July). Before this stretch, the Reds had won just 25 out of their previous 74 games!

The run has been largely led by rookie pitchers — Luis Castillo, Romano, Stephenson, Tyler Mahle. So, if you’re looking for something to be optimistic about, there’s that. At this point, Cincinnati is just three wins away from bettering last season’s win total. There are twelve games remaining in the season.

Even better (he said sarcastically), the Reds are now just two games behind Pittsburgh for fourth place in the National League Central division. The race to escape the cellar is ON.

82 thoughts on “Recap: Six shutout innings from Robert Stephenson lead the Reds to a SWEEP of the Bucs

  1. BB, HR, BB, HR, 2 VERY ugly outs, HBP, 3B = 5 runs and a pretty warm feeling inside this Reds fan. Fun to watch the duel today. Bob Steve did us proud.

  2. Good news, along with the improved young pitching, that the Reds are challenging for 4th. place in the NLC.

  3. Reds record vs. the 5 current National League playoff teams:

    Ari 3-3
    Col 3-4
    Cubs 6-10
    LAD 0-6
    Wsh 1-6

    Total 13-29

    The Reds have played these teams 14 teams in the second half. They have played Pittsburgh 12 times in the second half. A win is a win, a lot of those names above are likely to be playoff contenders for the next couple of seasons. They are the measuring stick.

    Nice to see real competition shaping up among the youngsters for Spring Training.

    • Yes, some perspective is important. I’m glad that Bob Steve pitched well, but the Pirates may have put out the worst lineup the Reds have seen all season. They are 28th in runs scored and aren’t playing Cervelli, Polanco, or Marte.

      We will see how Romano and Stephenson perform against Boston. I have more confidence in Romano right now. Stephenson had the same control issues this game as he did against St Louis and the Cards punished him because they have a decent lineup.

      • Pirates swung at a lot of ball 4s yesterday. They certainly helped him out by swinging at some bad pitches. Some of that has to be stuff though, right? I mean if those pitches don’t look like a strike out of Stephenson’s hand, then these guys wouldn’t be swinging at them. He gets his walk rate down to at least reasonable (<10%) and I think the Reds have a solid MLB SP on their hands.

  4. This lineup didn’t disappoint the Old Cossack. The top 3 hitters were a combined 2-8 w/ 1-HR and 4-BB. That’s a .500 OBP from the table setters and lead directly to 4 of the 5 runs scored. This is a classic example of why OBP and runs scored are so highly correlated. I want to see more of a lineup headed by Winker, Suarez and Votto. Hopefully a lot more.

  5. Reds set a National League record today – 5 players with 25 or more home runs in a season. Previous NL record of 4 players was held by 1965 Milwaukee Braves and 2003 Atlanta Braves. AL record of 5 players is held by three teams – all in the DH era: 1996 Orioles, 2005 Rangers, and 2009 Yankees.

  6. I found this interesting … For context, on Sundays, the radio pregame show has a few questions for Dick Williams. Today’s first question was something about Gold Glove winners. Fine. The second one was a pointed question, along the lines of. “After four years of rebuilding, will 2018 be the year the Reds turn it around?” (Even Jim Kelch commented just after reading the question about how straight to the point the question was.) …….

    So Williams starts out talking about how they try to win every year, and then talks about how he hopes the fans can find the rebuilding process to be exciting. (I think that was the word he used.) And he never even came close to addressing the fan’s question. He couldn’t at least say something along the lines of, we really anticipate contending in 2018??? … If HE can’t float something optimistic there, why should anybody else be optimistic?????…. And for the record, the Reds ought to know going in that he isn’t going to answer that type of question, so why let it be posed in the first place?

  7. Bob Stephenson matched Gerrit Cole, pitch for pitch through 5 innings. Stephenson continued the match into the 6th inning before Cole faltered. A 2.6 SO/BB ratio for Stephenson will play, but as already observed, his lack of control can be a serious issue against a more discplined team.

    • If I have to choose, I’m backing BobSteve ahead Romano and Mahle over his career because stuff will out eventually if he makes even modest improvement in control. The better news is we don’t have to choose among them unless several somebody elses step up and force the issue.

      • Totally agree, the cream rises to the top and stuff wills out. I’m getting pretty pumped about the prospects for the 2018 season. It may not happen, but I can see a reasonable scenario for the Reds to become immediatley competitive in 2018.

      • I agree that Stephenson have the highest ceiling. His stuff is superior to the others. If he ever gets average command, watch out. He’s just a long way from that right now.

        • I still can’t get Bob Steve’s performance in Toronto out of my head. I have never seen a team hit the ball off one pitcher in my life. 2ip, 10 hits, 6 er. Its hard to believe that this is the same guy? His slider is off the charts though! I think I rightly criticize the Reds front office pretty hard at times, but its a major feather in their cap that they hung in there w/Stephenson! Their rotation could be pretty amazing next year if things go their way for once.

        • I believe it was Hurdle that said his slider was the best they had seen all year.He is filthy but he will have to work on repeating his delivery.If he masters that he becomes an ace.We will see.

    • If Stephenson works out, I’ll have to eat crow. I’ve done it before, it doesn’t taste all that bad. If he works out, kudos to the Reds for sticking with him.

  8. I was not able to watch any of the game and just now saw the box score. I almost fell out of my chair when I saw Winker hitting first and Suarez second with their .370 and .376 OBPs. Please, please, can we have something like this in 2018 with high on base guys at the top of the lineup.

    • In just over 100 PA, Winker is slashing .277/.370/.500/.870 and this is the player Price relegated to the bench until Hamilton was injured.

      Maybe it’s those dang ROSE-COLORED glasses, but as Schebler gets more regular playing time in CF, he seems to be making better breaks on the ball and running better routes to the ball. There’s an adjustment between playing a corner OF position and playing CF (or vice versa). The ball comes off the bat differently. The communication between the three OF also seems to bne improving. No one will ever confuse Schebler’s defense in CF with Hamilton’s defense in CF, but Schebler might become an adequate defensive CF with enough regular playing time.

      I’ve only seen one questionable play by Winker in RF and I’ve seen him make multiple very good plays. This could be an interesting off season, or a VERY frustrating off season.

      • If Hamilton can play again this season I want to see what happens if both Hamilton and Winker are in the lineup simultaneously. I suspect Price will move Winker down to six or seven and hit Hamilton first. As crazy as it sounds, I think Winker showing unexpected power make it even more unlikely he will be a lead off candidate in 2018.

          • Hamilton ‘s OBP: .299. Schebler: .313. I like Schebler, but he isn’t a high OBP guy. Agree about Billy batting 8 or 9.

          • .313 OBP is completely acceptable with a .450+ slugging. With those numbers, he’s a 2+ win player in CF with below-average defense.

            Of course, Billy can also eclipse the 2 win threshold on D and base running alone, so really, there’s not much huge upside (IMO) to Schebler in CF unless he can be an almost average defender. Maybe he can be.

      • Schebler could play CF and Suarez could play SS. They won’t be as good as the guys before them, but thats where the improved pitching comes in. More Ks and fewer screaming liners. I don’t know about Ervin in CF either though…if they platooned. I would be really afraid of Schebler in CF in Colorado or San Fran. If they went that route (which I seriously doubt) then surely DW could find a good def outfielder/pinch runner type for the late innings.

        • The pitching will be dependent upon defense, though, as it always is. Maybe Schebler, with time, will become a good centerfielder, but he’s a ways from being a hitter who gets on base at a high rate. The Reds do not lack for power, even with Billy in the line-up, so modifying the defense so that the only good glove up the middle is the catcher seems risky. Time might tell.

        • The NL has only about 3 maybe 4 ballparks (ATT, Petco, Coors, Marlins) in which having a speedy centerfielder is an asset. You figure the Reds will only play anywhere between 12-14 games a year combined in these stadiums which is less than 10% of their schedule. If MLB decided to split the divisions back to East & West and the Reds were back in the NL West and played each team 18 times a year then I would be in favor of Hamilton starting in center. I believe you could get away with Schebler starting majority of games in center when about 3/4 of your games are played in either a band box or stadium of average dimensions.

          • Schebler has made a large handful of misplays in center already, and they were GABP…so even in a small sample size he can’t play CF in bandboxes either

          • A speedy centerfielder who can catch the ball and make good throws is an asset in any ballpark. The power alleys are the same everywhere, and shorter fences allow such centerfielders to play shallowly (?) and catch some would-be singles.

      • He’s definitely looked passible out the there the last few games. I still don’t think the net gain of Winker’s bat over Hamilton’s defense and running is enough to offset having a defender in CF who’s way below average. That said, if Schebler can even be a fair defender in CF, something I’ve doubted, then it makes that move more logical.

        • Fair enough I’m sure most would agree that an upgrade at the position would be preferred but all signs point to an outfield of Duvall/Hamilton/Winkler/Schebler/Ervin for 2018. Now granted I have been in NE Ohio for past 16 years and have seen Schebler play center only a handful of times for past 2 years and seemed passable for what I seen and it made the transition comparable to when the Reds moved Shin-Soo Choo to center after acquiring him in 2013 (not comparing Schebler to Choo offensively but comparing situation to move a corner outfielder to center to increase offense) in which Choo adapted into the position as the year went along after never playing center in Cleveland. If Hamilton had developed offensively into best case scenario Willie Wilson then I have no problem keeping him in the lineup but so far in 4 years the only comparison that I can think of has been Gary Pettis that drew less walks.

    • I enjoyed seeing Winker then Suarez bat 1-2. Price never wavers so it was nice to see a change and hey, they delivered.

  9. Why would anybody wait till there are 15 games left to have your higher obp guys at the top of the lineup.Billy being injured should not have anything to do with that at all.Even before Winker got here we still had Cozy and Suarez and Joey and Scooter that could have been at the top.Heck even Tucker is above league average.Before you could blink an eye it was walk homer walk homer and ballgame today.I know there was no chaos but well I’m ok with that.

    • It’s that need to put speed at the top of the lineup. I fully agree with you. I like Billy hitting 9th myself. The pitcher in the 8-hole gets one or two ABs a game ahead of him. Any PH put in will likely have a better bat than him. He also can still use his speed and create chaos for 1-2-3-4 ahead of him in the 9th spot, should he actually get on base.

  10. Schebler and Duvall’s OBPs are rapidly falling to sub .300 levels, at which point I’d rather have BH playing center field 3/4 of the games while Schebler and Duvall rotate with Ervin playing some too. Winker plays 150+ games manning right field where he is an upgrade to Schebler defensively and offensively.

    Homer’s salary is a sunk cost. Just because he’s the highest paid shouldn’t guarantee him a spot in the rotation. He appears to be finding his form, the Reds may find their strength in the depth of their staff. Start with Castillo / Mahle / Romano / Stevenson / whomever pitches best in ST and have the others like Finnegan, DeSclafani, Homer, Reed, Lorenzen, Garrett, Davis be ready to pitch several innings in relief with Peralta and Iglesias if necessary to put out high leverage fires. Consider a 6 man rotation. There will be injuries and ineffectiveness, having 4 or 5 guys in the pen like Montgomery of the Yankees or the Cubs or Norm Charlton during the last heyday could make up for not having a 1-2-3 like Scherzer-Strasburg-Gonzalez

    • It’s pretty unlikely, but possible that Bailey could be marketable next July (trading season). By mid 2018 the Reds will owe him $10M+ for the 2nd half of 2018, plus $23M for 2019, with either a $5M buyout for 2020 or a $20M salary. If he’s pitching well, not an undesirable contract for a veteran pitcher. I’m rooting for Homer’s success every pitch he throws. Also I still think DeSclafani & Finnegan are the best 2 young sps the Reds have. What’s exciting to me is that in 2018 the Reds may finally be handing the ball to a capable , deserving starter every game. That’s something completely different from the last several years.

      • The Reds could use a lefty in the rotation! Finnegan is their best shot with what they have currently imo, if his health holds up? He had a 2.93 era after the AS break last year.

        Bailey is untradeable….atleast at his salary. The main test for DW and the front office is this. When 7-8 guys (at a minimum) prove themselves to be better…will they pull him out of the rotation? As for Bob Steve, Romano, etc. They look good, but lets not get too caught up with shutting down the Pirates. They can’t hit! The sorry Pirates are the reason they talked themselves into $100 mil for Bailey in the first place.

        • If they ever have 7-8 guys prove themselves better than Homer then we can eval that thought. I haven’t see that yet I’ve seen hot then cold. If they prove consistent then we will be in good spot. It appears to me Bailey is improving as he gets mound time and further from surgery.

        • I think he’s saying that Bailey may not be untradeable, even at his salary, if he finishes the season well and puts together a strong 1st half next season. It’s a tall order but at that point, a team may be willing to take on Bailey to help them with a stretch run. That is assuming 1) The Reds aren’t in contention 2) Bailey is pitching like a #2 or #3 starter and 3) The Reds may be willing to send at least a little money over in any deal. I’m not saying they should trade him, just that it might now be out of the question that they could.

          • If Bailey is pitching like a #2 starter next year I have my doubts that 4 other guys will be pitching better than that. Thus, I doubt they would trade him unless the season has completely fallen apart in other areas (fingers crossed that doesn’t happen). I’m actually optimistic that he is going to continue to improve his command and consistency as he gets regular work. He’s already done more this season than I thought he would 6 weeks ago.

          • Got it I guess, I just think we under value Homer IF healthy and if not we can’t trade anyway. I seriously doubt all these are going to bypass a healthy Bailey. If they should and we could trade for a value piece great otherwise be happy with depth. Don’t see need to give him away with our history of pitching depth rapidly becoming a pitching shortage or inadequate performers.

        • I want a lefty in the rotation too, but Finnegan had to be shut down twice this year. They need to protect him and his frail arm. The bullpen should be in his future.

          • I don’t like it but I agree that’s where he will probably wind up. I guess it depends on the medical info. If his shoulder isn’t so bad that he can’t pitch at all, maybe 60-70 IP vs 180 IP is the place for him to be? I just hope he can come back and contribute. If he can start, all the better. If he can’t for medical reasons, then I get it. Better to have him pitching some out of the pen than not at all.

    • Soooo many viable pitchers next season.

      If ever there were a time to attempt what Dick Williams was talking about before this season, 2018 would be it. He was saying he’d like to make every day a bullpen day and use multiple pitchers for multiple innings……….take the modern idea of bullpen usage to it’s logical extreme.

      Then there’s the manager. Despite the mountains of data about facing a lineup a third time, he wants his starters to be able go 8.

      • This won’t happen anytime soon (decades). Devaluing players stats, which in turn, devalues their contracts, will never get you anywhere. Starters that go 8 strong?? Gimme some of that.

    • Da Bear’s plan above is solid. I’m even from the camp that Schebler can be part of a deal in a trade for a Stroman-like pitcher

  11. Budget planning for the 2018 season.
    Payroll increasing questions to ponder for this winter and the upcoming 2018 season.

    Scooter Gennett will go into his 2 arbitration year, he made $2.5M this year.
    Eugenio Suarez enters arb. year 1, he made $595,000 this year.
    Billy Hamilton will enter arb. year 2, he made $2.6M
    Tucker Barnhart will enter arb. year 1, he made $575,000.
    Antony DeSclafani will enter arb. year 1, he made $585,000.
    Raisel Iglesias can now opt out of his $4.5M for 2018 and can file for arbitration.

    That is 6 contracts of 6 very important players for 2018. That will take close to $14M to add to the 2018 budget, not counting Iglesias’s situation.
    The Reds do have 5 contracts that will end after 2017 in Arroyo ($535k), Feldman ($4.2M), Cozart ($5.3M), Storen ($3.0M), and Blake Wood ($1.0M). That is about $13M that helps to offset the arbitration raises.
    Three players up for year 1 of arbitration after 2018 will be Duvall, Finnegan, and Lorenzen.
    Under contract for 2018 and who will see their salaries increase also in 2018 are Votto from $22M to $25M, Bailey from $19M to $21M, and Mesoraco from $7.2M to $13M. That is $10.8M added to payroll, again not counting Iglesias’s situation.
    The Reds have a payroll of about $95.3M in 2017. Subtract the impending free agent salaries of about $13M, add in the estimated arbitration increases of $14M, then add in the increases of those under contract of about $11M, and then put about $4M in reserve for Iglesias’s situation, and as it stands now, we have an estimated 2018 budget of $111M. That is getting close to the 2012 and 2013 budgets.
    Conclusions, and it is early, is that the Reds cannot afford a contract extension with SS Zack Cozart. Any significant starting pitching upgrade cannot come via free agency, but will have to come by trade, if there is going to be one.
    The Reds only options at paring any payroll will be by trading any of Votto, Bailey, Mesoraco, or Iglesias. There seems like only 1 option here.
    The only other option is to trade any of the 6 eligible for arbitration Gennett, Suarez, Hamilton, Barnhart, DeSclafani, or Iglesias. This is where it could get very interesting this winter. Suarez and Barnhart are safe. Gennett, Hamilton, and Iglesias look like they could be the most affected this winter.

    • Doesn’t Phillips come off the books? Didn’t we pay a lot of his salary?

      • Yes, I think they paid $12M of his $13M to the Braves. I didn’t see BP on Cots site, but I’ll double check. That has to figure into that $95.3M. That could be some serious salary relief on the 2018 budget.

        • VA that was a good catch. BP was listed way down at the bottom and I missed it. I also didn’t account for Cingrani also coming off the books due to his trade at $1.8M. So that is about an extra $15M the Reds have.
          The new calculations say that $95.3M minus $27.8M the impending free agents, traded and released salaries with BP and Cingrani added in gives the Reds now $67.5M, add in arb. and contract salary increases of $25M, and the $ 4M reserve for Iglesias’s situation, and the Reds estimated projected 2018 payroll is about $96M-$97M. About the same as last year, just slightly up.. That does give the Reds some budget room to work under.
          Good catch again, as that extra $15M will mean a lot towards the Reds 2018 budget. I was worried that they wouldn’t be in a position to even add some salary via a trade. This dispels that worry at least. There is some room to work. And it doesn’t necessarily have to come at the expense of one or two of the 6 arb. eligible players.

        • FWIW, the Reds paid $13M of BP’s $14M. Not $12M of $13M.
          Cots also shows Lorenzen to be year 1 arb. eligible after this year, too. That means he achieved Super-2 status during the year and has 4 years of arbitration. So that will step up the timetable on him by one year. That also means the Reds will have 7, not 6, arbitration eligible players to negotiate with this winter. He’ll see a raise of much more than to $575k. Probably add $1M to that number.

  12. I like how Bob Steve is acquitting himself… i have generally been very down on him. I think today shows the possible future. 3 BB in 6 IP. That’s about as many walks as you can allow (4.5BB/9IP) and be successful in the majors on average. If he can do that, he’s got a shot at being a starter.

  13. About 20% of the Reds’ wins so far this season have come against the Pirates. It will probably end up somewhere around 18%.

  14. We have a ways to go to compete with the best in our league.Improved starting pitching and some tweeking of the offense will keep us headed in the right direction.I would have loved to have a bigger sample size when discussing our young starters but I still see it as a strength in 2018 and beyond.Barring injury we should pitch in the middle of the pack next year and be better in 2019.

  15. Over at MLBTR they have Toronto’s 3 biggest needs. I have been saying that Toronto looks like potentially the Reds best trading partner this winter.

    https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/09/three-needs-toronto-blue-jays.html

    That was reinforced by this comment, “A general lack of speed and positional versatility is baked into the Toronto roster given the presence of so many veteran players. If the Jays are looking to add contact hitting, defense and perhaps more stolen bases into the mix, two positions that stand out are right field (which we’ll address in the next point) and second base.”
    Schebler and Gennett can start a package that gets the Reds RHP Marcus Stroman.

    • Toronto will ask for Senzel and perhaps Mahle to finish that deal. I’m thinking that Schebler, Gennett, Trammel, and Mahle may get it done. Or at least be close to getting it done. Maybe not though. He’s a top arm with lots of team control left.

      • since the Reds want to start competing, I’d rather give up Blandino, or Long than Scooter

        • I could maybe see that but Toronto may want Scooter. Though Long or Blandino might be intriguing. They just aren’t proven to be MLB players. I think Blandino may be a starting MLB 2B or at least a utility guy. Long is too far away to tell. I like Blandino’s plate discipline. I like Long’s higher ceiling.

        • But they are saying that Toronto wants to re-load, not rebuild. That looks more like Gennett and Schebler or Duvall which could get the conversation going. But there would have to be starting pitching added to that package.
          Stroman or Donaldson are Toronto’s biggest trading chips to fill multiple holes for a reload. They have no MLB ready starting pitching at AAA. It might take Stephenson and Mahle to get it done. Gennett, Duval, Stephenson and Mahle pose as a strong package. It might even take one or two more in prospects to put it over the top. Ones in the #7-15 range. Bats like Siri and LaValley might get Trammell off the table. I’m telling the Jays that the Reds couldn’t trade Senzel as an injured player until after they see how he responds in spring training. That could get Senzel off of the table. And I am not comfortable including Mahle either, but one of him or Romano would have to be included I would think.

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