The Reds will be facing an uphill battle as they try to end their season-opening three game losing streak today.  They’ll start their second series of the 2018 season against a second straight National League powerhouse in the Chicago Cubs. The Cubbies come into the series with a 2-2 record, having split their season opening series against the Miami Marlins. The Reds, of course, are 0-3, having not held a lead in a single inning in 2018.

Starting Pitchers

It’ll be a battle of the Tylers today, as both Tyler Mahle and Tyler Chatwood will get their first starts of 2018. After an illustrious minor league career and a successful cup of coffee in the majors in 2017, Tyler Mahle impressed early on in spring training. Despite losing some steam at the end, Mahle was able to make the Opening Day roster, staking his claim to the #4 spot in the rotation. Mahle won’t overpower anyone with the velocity behind his fastball, but likes to change the speed, arm slot and break of the pitch to limit base hits and get outs.

Tyler Chatwood spent 2012-2017 pitching his home games for the Rockies in Coors Field, which obviously has the reputation of being very hitter friendly. Despite this, Chatwood has been able to maintain a career 4.31 ERA, including very impressive 2013 and 2016 seasons. This was a nice offseason addition by the Cubs, who are hoping his already solid production will be even better outside of the ballpark in Colorado. He’s struggled against the Reds in four games over his career, with a 5.09 ERA in 17.2 innings. The Reds have hit up Chatwood to the tune of a 143 team OPS+ over those appearances.

The Lineups

This is a bad lineup from Bryan Price.Never really known for his strength in lineup building, it’s hard to accept this from a manager who’s lost three straight games. Although I’d rather see Billy hitting 9th rather than 8th, but that decision is meh. However, Cliff Pennington, who many thought would struggle to make the team, is hitting in the spot that forward-thinking baseball minds believe your best hitter should be hitting. The only logical(?) thought process I can see here is that, in a small sample size of 17 ABs, Pennington has a 1.550 OPS against Chatwood. Suarez, in one more AB, has a 1.167 OPS. A daily lineup won’t make or break a season, but continuing this thought process, that Cliff Pennington is somehow the best option to hit at the top of the order, is enough to give this writer pause. But, hey, Jesse Winker is leading off.

Although the starting nine from Chicago had a lower team wRC+ than the Reds starting 9 did last year, they’ll be favored in this matchup. Their best hitters are hitting 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 1st. Again, a lineup from a single game does not a season make, but this seems to be smart, no-brainer lineup construction that the next Cincinnati manager will need to implement.

Join the conversation! 149 Comments

  1. Echoing Jordan’s observations…

    More insanity. Billy should never bat 8th in front of the pitcher…If Billy gets on, what are they gonna do? Bunt him to 2nd? WASTE! Cliff Pennington bats 2nd??
    BANGS HEAD ON DESK!

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    • I agree! Pennington should be batting 7th, Mahle 8th, Billy 9th.

      Nick Senzel can’t get here soon enough!!

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      • I honestly fear the front office’s plan for Senzel is not nearly as expedited as we fans hope. Pennington starting the 4th game of the season just kind of solidifies that for me. If Senzel went down to Louisville to play SS everyday I would have been able to imagine a scenario where a struggling Peraza is quickly pulled for Senzel’s promotion. Moving Senzel to 2B allows the Reds to say, “We don’t have any SS in AAA banging on the door, we’ll let Peraza try to figure it out and will fall back on veterany veteran Cliff Pennington.” This seems to be exactly what they are doing already.

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    • bunt him to third, after stealing 2B

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    • I’m going to go a little against the grain on the whole Billy batting 8th thing. For one, if we’re being honest, we don’t really have to worry much about “What if Billy gets on.” It’s such a rarity it’s really not even worth worrying about. Plus, the starting pitcher may bat behind Billy once a game, probably 2 at the most. If Billy actually finds his way to first base, you don’t have to mess around with bunting him to scoring position. Let him steal 2nd and hope bat meets ball and finds its way to the outfield. It doesn’t take much to score him from 2nd and the Reds pitchers have generally looked awful trying to bunt anyway.

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  2. Love the website, but I’m not a big fan of the new design. The homepage design pretty much forces every article to have an image, so I understand the need of adding the huge, pixelated “game thread” graphic at the top of the article, but it looks really ugly, especially since it also appears on the background.

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  3. Jordan I like this approach to listing the lineups (though not the actual lineup for obvious Pennington 2nd and Hamilton 8th reasons). Including the WRC+ on both sides highlights the clear differences between a Joe Maddon constructed lineup and a Bryan Price version. Good on you. Not so much on Price. Go Reds!

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  4. It’s hard to believe this organization actually wants to be profitable. This lineup is the equivalent of a coffee shop forcing customers to drink something mildly unpleasant before allowing them to have the drink they paid for. It’s madness.

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  5. Pennington in the two hole? Why?

    Please keep posting the wRC+ next to batters! Great stuff there.

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  6. I think it’s worse if Price is basing this on 17 ABs than if he picked it out of a hat. I wonder what goes through Votto’s mind when he sees something like this.

    I’m not sure what to root for…that this kind of thing plays out the way you’d expect, or that Pennington in the 2 hole and BHam in front of the pitcher somehow ignites the offense so that Price thinks “that was some excellent decision making.”

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  7. Warming up exercises have finished and we have midseason bile going pretty strong Early in the season.

    Go Reds!

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    • 14 out 17 losing seasons for the Redlegs….this will make 15 of 18. Bile to some is the truth for many

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  8. Jordan, I think Price has more than ample reason to hit Pennington in the #2 hole. Not only does he have a higher OPS than Suarez against Chatwood in 17 AB, Pennington is also hitting 1.000 this season compared to Suarez hitting .182 this season. Price is simply brilliant and can really dig down deep into the relavent data to maximize the effectiveness of his lineups.

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  9. Guys, I don’t know why you’re so upset about Pennington hitting second. Bryan Price told me Pennington’s average is 1.000, which is better than anybody else on the team. Who needs a sample size of 17 when a sample size of one gives you the data to justify your decisions??

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    • Would’ve been helpful to read Shchi’s post before I posted. So wise!

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      • I hate that when that happens…and it happens a lot to the Old Cossack with his Old and Fat fingers that make typing on little keys VERY slow!

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  10. When I see Rizzo slashing .150/.261/.300, I feel better about Votto’s 1st 3 games this season.

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    • Votto has taken the same approach to start the season each of the last two years. He has been very aggressive and swinging early in the count. Think he is just working on his timing.

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  11. Jordan, I 100% agree with you on the bad lineup.

    HOWEVER, Billy Hamilton as the Reds’ biggest surprise in 2018? HA HA HA!

    I kid, I kid! Thanks for the great game preview.

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  12. How about a clean 1st inning for Mahle today? That would certainly be a move in the right direction.

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    • Yes! I’m disappointed with some of the pitch selection and decisions out there too? Romano threw Rendon about 5-6 straight fastballs yesterday….of course he will time one. Atleast show them offspeed…even if it isn’t a strike. I think it 1-2 or 2-2….definitely wasn’t behind in the count. Romano’s 2nd HR to Bryce Harper….3-1 pitch right down broadway. Cmon? Tucker has to be better then that? Zimmerman had a great year last year but the last 4-5 years before that he was Adam Duvall at best. You don’t give guys like Harper a cookie!! 8 hrs allowed in 2 games ain’t gonna cut it! Hopefully Mahle will be on his game and keep the ball down!

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  13. Schebler a game time scratch, replaced by Duvall with Winker shifting to RF.

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    • With Duvall starting, that now bring the OF rotation to 3 starts for each OF after 4 games. It’s interesting that Price opted to sit Winker with a LH pitching yesterday rather than sitting Schebler, then kept Schebler in the scheduled starting lineup today while sitting Duvall again with a RH pitching.

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  14. Which Red will actually pitch Rizzo inside? He, among many is a Red destroyer
    24 homers against reds pitching.
    As I type this Mahle plunked him…I’m ok with that

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  15. Hey Hey….Reds actually come to bat not trailing.

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  16. Mahle hit Tucker’s glove with hard stuff on every pitch to contrares to get the swinging K and then brought a steady diet of off speed stuff against scwarber…then put him away with high gas. Really nice finish to the first for Mahle.

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  17. Too many pitches but Mahle just threw 95 upstairs past Contreras and Schwarber. The comparisons to Mike Leake were never very accurate. He has his thinking cap out there…in a good way! I like him alot!

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  18. Winker walks. Could the Reds get their first lead off the year.

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  19. Scooter is a real bright spot!

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  20. Unbelievable

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  21. Scooter continues to pound out base hits. Votto didn’t bring his wallet to Arizona, and not to Cincy…Still in Canada maybe?

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    • Wenker has not looked good in the field. What was he like in the minor leagues?

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      • He’s made strides as a defender but he still isn’t very good. He seems better in LF than in RF. Doug can tell you a lot more about him out there. I’ve only seen him play a handful of times in the minors.

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      • He’s a bit better in LF than Rf

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  22. Tyler Scherzer…..is settling in and dealing.

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  23. Guess what fantasy genius saved Mr Mahle for his last pick in every league:)

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  24. Maddon looks ridiculous….dressed like its 20 degrees out:)

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  25. Nice bunt!

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  26. 5 base runners in 2 innings, but yet to dent the plate.

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  27. so another mischarecterization eh? The Clutchman caught looking with no outs and 2 on…. again.They’re already 3 games behind, so no problem, in a week (when they’re 5.6 gb) he’lL start hitting. Better yet, in his next turn, when nobody is on, he’ll hit or get a walk. SMH.

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  28. Nice being able to hit against a RHP who is not a Cy Young candidate and is not Cy Young capable.

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  29. The Reds haven’t surrendered the lead in the first inning for the first time all season. After two, they’re still in it. A weird sensation this season.

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  30. Really nice listening to Sam LeCure talk intelligently about baseball in general and pitching in particular.

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  31. Mahle with a lifetime era of 2.35….atleast Reds HOF if not Cooperstown. Book it:)

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  32. Winker’s poor defense could force Price to only play Winker when he has Hamilton to help cover some extra ground from center field. This has not been a good day, and it’s only through three innings.

    Reply
    • Winker is playing RF. He’s played LF forever.
      The slice from RH hitters is hard. How bout you let him play 50 games at a new position? Or better yet….put him in his natural LF. He’s made all the plays….Baez ball was a mistake by Mahle.

      Reds lead.

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      • I’m fine with him getting the opportunities. I wonder if win-needy Price will have that level of patience. Hope so. And he was supposed to be in left field today until Schebler was scratched, I think.

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    • Give him some time. Jay Bruce wasn’t catching that ball either for the triple. Prob 2/3 don’t get to it.

      Atleast Mahle looks great! Mahle and Romano both did a great job of rebounding after a ton of pitches in the first inning. 2 punchouts on the outside black. 1 on a comeback fb painting the inside corner. A punchout hitting the perfect spot slightly above the letters against Schwarber! Command is everything and Mahle has it!!

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  33. Brilliant defense by Penny to start the DP

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  34. Nice play by Pennington to start that DP. I wonder whether Peraza makes that play.

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  35. Nice for Mahle to have a fairly low pitch count for that inning, too !!!

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  36. Suarez with the triple. Please, please, can we score this run? Please?

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  37. I don’t care if he’s not in our long-term plans — I LIKE this new shortstop.

    Keep playing him for as long as he shows up and contributes, and until Peraza proves he is a big-league player.

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    • Peraza had 11 career HRs in the minors and didn’t walk there either (726 ops?). I don’t get what their love affair is with him? He came up 2 yrs ago and hit for average but then they put out these things called scouting reports. He’s been a scrub ever since!

      Reply
  38. A lead! Baby steps….

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  39. 3 bags for Suarez. Could have used that in the 1st inning…but Duval brings him home with a groundout. And the Reds…wait for it

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  40. I thought Chatwood would be a nice signing for the Reds. I was thinking he’d been in for a 3yr/$27-million deal or so though. I was surprised when he signed for quite a bit more with the Cubs. They must have liked the stuff, the peripherals and getting him away from Coors as much as I did, if not more.

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    • He doesn’t look very good to me, but he has to have better control normally. The numbers don’t show it today but I like Mikolas that the Cards picked up from Japan for 2 yr/15 mil. He’s big and throws 95-96 with good breaking stuff. Milw took him deep a few times today but he has #3 starter stuff atleast

      Reply
      • Reds don’t seem to go into the Asian pool very often. They made a little run at Ohtani but who didn’t?

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        • He’s a white guy….just pitching in Japan because he didn’t really catch on with Texas early on. He’s 29 now.

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          • Yes, but they don’t really get anyone from those leagues. Same story with Thames and the Brewers last year. Reds seem to try to grab guys who are rebound candidates in MLB but seem to disregard guys that may not cost too much more who were actually succeeding in Korea or Japan.

        • No, they haven’t done much from here, but the Reds have added their first scouts in Asia under DW. I would expect more activity from that region in the years to come.

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    • Chatwood has done well vs. Votto today, keeping the pitches in on him on every at-bat.

      The Cubs have done a nice job with signings like Chatwood, lining up the roster for a run this year and the next 2, then being able to let guys walk and re-tool the roster.

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    • Agreed. 3 yr/$38MM was a great value signing for the Cubbies. Chatwood was the right pitcher at the wrong time for the Reds this past off season. I hope the Reds keep such a pitcher in mind when it comes time to sign an additional starter, but it may not be necessary for a while if they can get a full complement of starters from in house right now.

      Reply
  41. We need to drop Votto to 9th …

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  42. Why is Votto trying to hit a down and in pitch to left field? That is a meatball of a pitch to lefty batters

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  43. I will take the defensive lapses if Winker keeps getting on base as the lead off man

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  44. Dear Joey, please get well at the plate soon.

    Most Sincerely,
    Lar (AKA LWBlogger2)

    Reply
    • It took him till mid May last year, though (unlike this year), he looked completely lost at the plate last year.

      Reply
  45. Mahle is looking good.Our offense has been and continues to be terrible with RISP.

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    • It’s like the whole team is pressing w/ men on base. I’m not a big proponent of guys being “clutch” or “not clutch” but I think guys can press over stretches. When a whole team is doing it, it’s bad.

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  46. When the Reds killer Rizzo actually doesn’t catch enough of it off the bat, it may be the good guys’ day.

    Cubs act like a team out-of-sync, miserably marking time to get home. They flew straight from AZ to Florida for warm-up games, then opening series in Miami.

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  47. Duvall reaching for a 2-0 breaking ball that looked like it was outside? Even if its on the black….you’re still up 2-1 in the count. We have to make alot of progress with the offense because the starters are young and the bullpen is the typical Dick Williams washed up scrub hodge-podge bunch….plus Iggy

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  48. Mahle pitched in the big leagues last year. Obviously not his debut. But he is still a rookie and making his first start of the year.
    Reminiscent of Jonny Cueto statement game April 4 2008- 10 years ago when he struck out 10 in his debut.

    Mahle making a statement. I’m not going back to Louisville and I’m not pitching in the bullpen.

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    • Yep….they said yesterday that 24 yr old Cards pitcher Luke Weaver put on 15 lb of muscle in the offseason because he wanted to be stronger and not fatigue this season so he put up more innings.

      Not Billy….same string bean that he was when he came to the Reds

      Reply
  49. Trade Billy already! guys hits a dribbler that cant even get out of the catchers box and costs a run. pathetic

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  50. My Kingdom for a hit with RISP.

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  51. Not catching any breaks with RISP. Like someone said earlier, the whole team seems to be pressing a bit.

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  52. They will hand the 1-0 lead over to the bullpen…what could possibly go wrong?

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  53. that was not Billy’s fault. There was no play at first

    Billy has his faults but that play was not his fault bases would’ve been loaded

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    • What are you talking about? Any decent hit ball and E. Suarez scores…he almost scored on that wet noodle Billy calls a swing!

      Reply
    • Not being able to drive in a runner from third base seems like a fault.

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    • That’s pretty much how I saw it. No chance to get him at 1st, It’s hard for Eugenio to hold up there though. Plus the runner on 2nd going to 3rd, could have been a pickle

      Reply
  54. Wow. Chatwood has had 2 Tommy John surgeries (one in high school) and he was pumping 95 MPH after 90 pitches.

    Reds have had their chances today to put these guys away.

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  55. Squeeze might have been the correct call there. You can’t expect Hamilton to drive in a runner from third by swinging.

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    • Yeah….he’s such a good bunter:)

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      • You don’t have to be a good bunter to squeeze, you just have to put it in play

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      • He’s able to bunt into outs. That time it could have been a productive out. I certainly like his chances of putting the ball in play more than I like his chances of getting a hit or hitting a deep enough fly ball.

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        • Whatever the highest % play might be….very high % that Price doesn’t think that way. Like letting Peraza/Billy hit in the 9th yesterday while OBP king Winker sits

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  56. Having Jim Day in the booth is pleasing on the ears.

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  57. Is Schebler unavailable?

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    • He is (was) available, but his elbow was sore. Precautionary move to keep him out of the lineup.

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  58. I give up. Billy Hamilton is an alien sent to earth to destroy the Reds. You win

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  59. Cubs pressiing as well.

    That stolen base attempt seemed forced and ill-advised. Only the 7th inning.

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  60. Removing Mahle is a bad decision, one that will come back to haunt.

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  61. Nice inning by Hughes

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  62. Winker gets a shot at a lefty

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  63. Brantley said Votto struck out on a pitch ‘up.’ Didn’t look up to me. … I’ll be glad when Joey catches fire, hopefully sooner rather than later.

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  64. Raisel

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  65. We get 3 out of 4 very good starts from our starters against two very good offensive teams.This is very encouraging to me.

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  66. After a few good months early last year, Peralta continues to be mediocre at best

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  67. Now if this one goes down in flames then atleast Price did what he could? Peralta struggled 2nd half last year and yet DW did nothing to get Price a dependable lefty?

    Price is a lousy manager but you have to give any manager some fundamental parts of the roster if you want them to win for you!

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  68. lucky there. SHB a HBP

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  69. Huge K

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  70. Wow…high drama there…Iggy K’s Rizzo!!!

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  71. IGGY!!!!!!!!!!

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  72. This is a great game. If the Reds were even remotely prepared in spring trainng with game reps to get timing to hit…it’s 5-0 right now.

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    • My thinking also.Could say that about the first game against the Nats and yesterday as well.

      Reply
    • Early April Ohio vs March in Arizona. Cubs aren’t hitting either atleast. They got shutout yesterday and 1 run in 17 innings in their other loss.

      Reply
  73. Cody Reed gets his 1 start vs the Cubs again:) Tell me some part of him isn’t saying “These guys again?” Its not going to be cold and favor the pitchers tomorrow night either. I still like his arm though…poor mans Mitch Williams type reliever to me.

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    • I cringe at the thought of him facing the Cubs again, after they demolished him last year. And I don’t see what else Garrett has to do to get a spot in the rotation as the swing man.

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      • He hasn’t pitched since opening day. He is being Bob Steve’d

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        • Yep.Got to have at least one whipping boy.Guess some folks believed he was being saved for all of those lefty hitters on the Cubs and Nats

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  74. I was pulling for Billy but well you know.

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  75. We won!!!!!!!! Mahle for the HOF!!!!! That kid is awesome!!!!

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    • If he keeps pitching like he belongs in the bigs, I hope the Reds don’t send him down. Screw the service time issue. If he pitches this well consistently for a year or two, offer him a reasonable contract extension.

      Reply
      • The dude (Mahle) just shut the Cubs out on one hit through 6 innings – so if Tyler doesn’t stick in the rotation then the Reds brass will simply be proving how STUPID they really are !!

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    • That was no fluke by Mahle … real glad he had a chance to show what he could do in spring training – and here’s hoping that we see him in a Reds uniform for a long time.

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  76. Cubs are going to lose today….L

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  77. Oh baby, we needed that – now we need a manager, a CF a SS a ….

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  78. Glad to have a win, and a temporary reprieve from the waves of negativity.

    Phewww.

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  79. Hey, one that actually belongs to the Reds !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  80. Mahle was impressive, & Reds didn’t waste the start. Nice.

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  81. Mahle works up in the zone alot which scares me but Mario Soto gave up HRs….just make them solo shots.

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  82. Game 4: A New Hope

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  83. Can Tucker barnhart be player manager????

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  84. Is there reason amir is not pitching one inning. I hope that guy gets to pitch

    Reply

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2018 Reds, Game Thread

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