With two games left, the Reds (67-93) are certainly not ending the season on a high note. They lost another one-run game yesterday afternoon — dropping their record in such contests to 13-22 — and have now dropped nine of the last 10. They’ll look to turn their fortunes around against the Cubs (91-69) this afternoon at 4:05 p.m. ET in Wrigley Field.

Starting Pitchers

Jackson Stephens 21.0 3.86 4.92 19.3% 7.2%
Jon Lester 175.2 4.46 3.90 23.2% 8.1%

Jackson Stephens will toe the rubber for his fourth and final start of the season this afternoon. His major-league debut came against this Cubs team back on July 1, and the 23-year-old held his own. In five innings, he struck out eight hitters while allowing three runs and six hits. He’s coming off his best major-league outing, firing six innings of one-run, two-hit baseball against the Red Sox last Sunday. Stephens probably isn’t pitching for a spot in next year’s rotation, but he’s proving to be a dependable guy to have ready in Triple-A if an injury or a need for a spot start pops up.

Stephens vs. Cubs

One year after finishing second in NL Cy Young voting, Jon Lester’s performance has dropped off a bit. For only the second time since his rookie season in 2007, he will finish with under 200 innings pitched and will wind up with his highest ERA, FIP, and SIERA since 2012. His average fastball velocity is down to 91.7 mph from 93.0 mph last season, and he’s walking more batters (8.1 BB%) than he has in any season since 2011. The Reds have rocked Lester this year, racking up 17 runs (15 earned) and 23 hits in 13.1 innings against him.

Lester vs. Reds




CF Billy Hamilton (67 wRC+) CF Ian Happ (115 wRC+)
3B Eugenio Suarez (119 wRC+) 3B Kris Bryant (147 wRC+)
1B Joey Votto (165 wRC+) 1B Anthony Rizzo (134 wRC+)
2B Scooter Gennett (126 wRC+) C Willson Contreras (120 wRC+)
LF Adam Duvall (94 wRC+) LF Kyle Schwarber (100 wRC+)
RF Scott Schebler (102 wRC+) SS Addison Russell (87 wRC+)
SS Jose Peraza (61 wRC+) RF Jason Heyward (88 wRC+)
C Stuart Turner (11 wRC+) 2B Javier Baez (98 wRC+)
P Jackson Stephens (4.92 xFIP) P Jon Lester (3.90 xFIP)

— Tucker Barnhart and Zack Cozart are getting a day off.

— The big guns (Bryant, Rizzo, Russell, Heyward, Baez) are back in the lineup for the Cubs after getting a day off yesterday.

News, Notes, & Pre-Game Reading

— Today is the last day to vote for the Reds’ 2017 Hall of Fame class. Adam Dunn will probably win the fan vote, but don’t forget about Reggie Sanders before casting your ballot. You can make your vote here.

— Joey Votto is good.

Stat of the Day

Votto tends to be the focus of Stat of the Day more often than others, so let’s focus on some different players today.

— Tucker Barnhart is currently second in baseball in defensive WAR (2.8). Martin Maldonado is the next-closest catcher at 1.9. He also leads all catchers by a wide margin in defensive runs saved with 22. Manny Pina is next at 13.

— If he gets one more steal over the next two games, Billy Hamilton will reach 60 stolen bases this season. No Reds player has done that since Eric Davis swiped 80 bags in 1986. Hamilton is also on pace to lead MLB in steals, the first Cincinnati player to do so since Bobby Tolan (57) in 1970.

— Raisel Iglesias will end the season as the Reds’ leader among pitchers in fWAR (currently at 1.9), the first Cincinnati reliever to do so since Rob Dibble (3.7) in 1989.

— Votto isn’t the only reason the team has its highest on-base percentage (.329) since 2010. Aside from the first baseman, six Reds hitters have an OBP above league average (.322):

  • Zack Cozart (.387)
  • Jesse Winker (.370)
  • Eugenio Suarez (.369)
  • Tucker Barnhart (.346)
  • Scooter Gennett (.344)
  • Phillip Ervin (.328).

— Six players aside from Votto also have a walk rate above 10 percent:

  • Suarez (13.5 BB%)
  • Cozart (12.3 BB%)
  • Winker (11.0 BB%)
  • Devin Mesoraco (10.9 BB%)
  • Patrick Kivlehan (10.8 BB%)
  • Barnhart (10.0 BB%)

— Anyone who watches the Reds on a daily basis can see the improvements Suarez has made at third base. It shows in the advanced metrics, as well. His defensive runs saved has increased from 1 in 2016 to 7 in 2017; among 12 qualified third baseman the last two seasons, only Evan Longoria and Todd Frazier saw a bigger jump this year. Suarez’s ultimate zone rating per 150 games has risen from 0.7 to 6.7; only Frazier has a larger increase.

— Among all pitchers with at least 80 innings, Luis Castillo has the seventh-highest ground-ball rate at 58.8 percent.

11 Responses

  1. james garrett

    We will make Lester look real good today and then he will get hammered in the playoffs.We don’t hit lefties at all.

  2. james garrett

    Put on a tee and there it goes.Down 2-0.

  3. Shchi Cossack

    If anyone watched the bottom of the 1st inning, you saw why the Reds carried Turner on the major league roster for the entire season. Barnhart and Turner could form the best defensive catcher tandem in the league. Not only does Turner have a gun for a right arm, he’s got a sniper rifle for accuracy.

  4. james garrett

    I like Turner but he needs to work on his hitting.

  5. james garrett

    Lester making it look easy and he is just throwing batting practice fast balls.

  6. james garrett

    Can’t wait till next year when we will be much better.I don’t like the fact we have shut it down for the last 3 weeks but I do understand why.Losing gets contagious just like winning and I hope we can get that winning feeling next year.

  7. james garrett

    I see that Matt Cain finished it up today with 5 innings of shut out ball.Hope the fans in San Fran know what just walked away from the game

  8. james garrett

    I am done for this season nation.Good luck to all.Enjoyed the great work of all the writers.Great stuff as always.Enjoyed the conversation back and forth and do believe we will be much better next year regardless of Price.Couldn’t help myself.

  9. CI3J

    I know there aren’t many ways to statistically judge a manager’s worth, but I personally feel record in one run games comes close. Those are games a team loses where if the manager had done something different, they could have possibly won.

    Case in point, I went back and looked at some of Joe Maddon’s worst seasons in Tampa Bay, and I could never find him having anything worse than -5 1RG differential. Heck, in 2007 when the team went 66-96, Maddon actual had a positive 1RG differential (22-21).

    Interestingly enough, RLN’s own Michael Maffie wrote an article about the Reds’ record in 1 run games and said it wasn’t a repeatable skill, and posted this chart:


    …..What happened in 2014 to make the Reds’ record in 1 run games fall so precipitously?

    I’d be interested in seeing a site which has manager’s records in 1 run games. I did a quick Google search and couldn’t find anything like that. I’m sure there is some luck involved, but my theory is you’ll see “good” managers usually find a way to win more 1 run games than they lose.

    • TR

      Could the precipitous fall in 2014 be because that’s the year Bryan Price took over the managerial reins?

    • larry

      Yes, one run decisions are important to a team. Bad teams lose a lot of one run games (usually) and it does reflect on the management of a team. I hope that the reds are much better in 2018, but I have my doubts. I hope that’s not the Price we have to pay. R N is the best cite in baseball. I’m looking forward to the insightful articles and perceptive comments in the off season.