UPDATE NOTE: Tonight’s Game has been cancelled.  It will be made up as part of a day/ night DH on May 19

We can all relax and exhale at least a bit following the Reds victory over the Cubs on Monday. Whatever else this 2018 edition of the Reds may do or not do, they won’t be setting a new world’s record for futility to begin a season. In fact Monday’s win assured the Reds of no worse than a series split; and, with a win tonight versus the Cubs at GABP, the Reds could secure their first series victory of 2018. Take note of the tonight’s starting time, 6:40pm, and get used to it since Reds home night games will start at this hour until April 30 when the more customary 7:10 starting time returns to GABP night games.

Starting Pitchers

Left hander Cody Reed gets the somewhat surprising starting call tonight for the Reds. Nick Carrington recently reviewed Reed’s sojourn since he joined the Reds in July of 2015 as one of the Johnny Cueto parting gifts received from the Royals.

2017 was a confusing season for Cody Reed. He  spent April with the Reds being a seldom used reliever who also made a single start. Reed then spent May through the end of August being a starting pitcher at AAA Louisville. Back with the Reds in September, he made 5 relief appearances pitching just 3.2 innings.  This spring Reed was destined to Louisville to be a starter once more until the somewhat surprising announcement late last week that he would be the Reds starter today.  The bottom line on Reed is that he has great stuff but has yet to successfully harness it at the MLB level.

Veteran Jon Lester, also a leftie, will be the Cubs starter.  In 2017, Lester completed a full decade of making at least 30 MLB starts every season.  Stop and let that sink in, a decade of 30 start seasons. Lester made 322 starts covering 2040 innings over the decade, the last 4 seasons with the Cubs. Lester’s 2018 season got off to a difficult start against the Marlins last week. He will be looking to set things straight tonight.

The Numbers (from 2017)

PITCHER xFIP HR/9 BB% K%
Jon Lester 3.85 1.3 7.9 23.6
Cody Reed 5.57 8.66 24.1 21.5

Comparing Reed to Lester, it doesn’t take much of an eye to catch that with the 21.5% strikeout rate, Reed could have a nice MLB career, but only if his walk rate and HR/9 rate also get into a range similar to Lester’s. Otherwise Reed could be gone very quickly.

Bullpens

Thanks to Tyler Mahle’s strong 6 inning effort on Monday, the Reds pen is in generally good shape. Raisel  Iglesias has pitched 7 outs in the last two days; but with an off day coming on Wednesday, Bryan Price would likely run Iglesias to the mound for a standard 3 out save should the opportunity present itself.

The Cubs pen also looks to be under no duress.

Lineups

                  CUBS

1. Ben Zobrist (LF)
2. Kris Bryant (3B)
3. Anthony Rizzo (1B)
4. Willson Contreras (C)
5. Addison Russell (SS)
6. Albert Almora Jr. (CF)
7. Javier Baez (2B)
8. Jason Heyward (RF)
9. Jon Lester (P)

             REDS

1. Billy Hamilton (CF)
2. Phil Gosselin (2B)
3. Joey Votto (1B)
4. Eugenio Suarez (3B)
5. Adam Duvall (LF)
6. Jesse Winker (RF)
7. Jose Peraza (SS)
8. Tucker Barnhart (C)
9. Cody Reed (P)

Sometimes it seems like Bryan Price can’t succeed for trying.  He gets it right by platooning Scooter Gennett out of the lineup but then can’t resist his inborn urge to put Billy Hamilton back up to the top.

Final Thoughts

Now that the Reds have their first win under their belts, we can take a bit more reasoned look at how the team has done  over what was essentially a four game opening weekend. First off, don’t overlook that aside from the Dodgers and perhaps a surprise team or two, the competition won’t get any better than what the Reds have faced to date from the Nationals and Cubs.  Many teams are going to lose 2 games of a series to the Nats by more than a single run.

The Reds starting pitching has been something of a pleasant surprise so far.  They’ve gotten two outstanding starts from Homer Bailey and Tyler Mahle and a good enough start from Sal Romano. The guy seen as the emerging ace, Luis Castillo, turned out to be the only man to come up markedly short in his first start; but Castillo’s time will come. The bullpen on the other hand looks like it could remain a cause for concern. Hopefully the starting staff will build on its good beginning by developing a level of pitch efficiency which keeps them in the game and the bullpen out of the game at least deep into the 7th inning. If you are sizing up the development of the Reds starting pitching, track how many outs they create a game just as closely as their FIP.

The offense is an area of concern. No matter in what order the players bat, the Reds simply have to start getting more production from the centerfield and shortstop positons.  And the defense has been less than stellar too.  Balls that could have been caught haven’t been; and, a double play that might have been wasn’t which allowed a critical run  to score in the season opener. There is more work to be done on both sides of the ball than we may have realized during spring training (maybe because Nick Senzel was capably filling in much of the time??).

Still baseball is back; and, that is always the best of news. Go Reds.


Data from Fangraphs and  MLB.com

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@jn_walkerjr

Join the conversation! 36 Comments

  1. Okay, I am going to try and think like Price. First, Billy has a career .368 average against Lester. Second, Lester cannot hold runners making it easy to steal off him. Therefore Billy should get the most at bats.

    Reply
    • That has to be the thought process. And, if Billy can somehow get on, he’ll run wild. He and Peraza are both struggling badly, and you have to believe they’re feeling the pressure of possibly losing their positions.

      Reply
  2. I saw Reed at Triple-A last year and recall not being all that impressed. As always, I hope he does well. But I’m bracing for him getting shelled. Maybe mother nature will be merciful and rain this one out?

    Reply
  3. Gosselin batting 2nd tonite. He is hitting lifetime .273/.356 obp vs lefties but only 154 atbats? My question is….what was wrong with Alex Blandino? Gosselin is going on 30 and barely played in the bigs. He did hit a bomb the other day for a 2 run Hr. I don’t get it? Hope he pans out but their handpicked guys with “veteran-ness” rarely do?

    Reply
    • Indy, your question is also pertinent when it comes to the signing of Gallardo to the pitching staff. I believe Price and-or Williams firmly believe in the value of veterans who can mentor the younger players. Last year, after Arroyo got hurt, you still saw him on the bench always chatting with one of the young pitchers. Someone, maybe Gennett, was quoted after the Gallardo signing about how great he is with younger players.

      I would argue that it’s counterproductive, and a waste of a roster spot, but I’ve never spent an entire summer in a baseball dugout and traveling constantly with the same group of guys. Certainly if the team is a contender, you don’t carry a player on the roster like Arroyo because he talks a good game to the kid pitchers.

      Reply
      • Although I would also like to see Blandino, I’m much more bothered by the Gallardo signing than the fact that Gosselin is on the roster. Tom, your comments about the possible value of a veteran may be a factor. As you noted, we’ve never spent time a pro baseball dugout.

        Reply
        • A guy like Drew Storen makes sense. He wasn’t that bad. He had a little bit left and he’s a former closer. I loved Jerry Hairston Jr. back in the day! He played great with the Reds, but a guy like Gosselin has done nothing in the big leagues? Gallardo got smacked around the last 2 years? You can’t help if you can’t play anymore?

          Reply
          • Jerry Hairston had negative WAR in the 3+ years before coming to the Reds and only was brought over because he was one of Dusty’s boys. Miraculuously he turned his career around (briefly) and had a decent season for the Reds with positive WAR. But this is hardly an example worth noting, as Dusty also wanted Gary Matthews Jr. on the roster who was a bum. It’s like throwing darts sometimes, you hope something lands and sticks. Gosselin has had a decent average in minimal appearances, but he is low cost low risk and can be cut if needed. I don’t know the percentages but I am guessing 2 out of every 3 prospects amounts to less than replacement level and has no career as a pro. The odds are against them. The last thing you want to do is deny them everyday ABs and ask them to pinch hit against the toughest pitchers in the leagueto cut their teeth, hence the need for veterans on the bench. If they fail you cut them loose. A prospect can have his confidence destroyed and kill their career. This is my opinion on why we see the preference for vets on the bench.

  4. There’s a significant slot of dry weather between the two fronts, so I do think this game gets started. The fast-moving line of storms exiting Illinois into Indiana could affect the game, but it’s a pretty narrow line, so hopefully it will be a simple delay. Behind it will be much cooler weather.

    Reply
    • This jives exactly with what the TV weather types here in Dayton are saying and showing. The boys need to play fast.

      Reply
  5. Wondering how many folks are going to be like me tonight with Reds on one TV/ device and CBJ on another?

    Reply
    • CBJ! Would love to be at the game if i want watching the kids. Exciting times for Blue Jackets

      Reply
  6. If Hamilton can get on at least once in his four to five at bats he will be in scoring position or even sacrifice fly scoring position very quickly. That is at least the hope having him leading off and batting from the right side. Hopefully Lester is wild tonight like he can be at times. But it won’t matter if Reed doesn’t pitch well, obviously.

    Reply
    • I got worn out w/Billy long ago, but tonite is a good matchup with Lester’s weird phobia about throwing to bases. If Billy gets on 1st then its a double….probably a triple!

      The guy that interests me vs lefties is Phillip Ervin. Tiny sample size obviously but he’s 7-18 career vs lefties with 3 walks. Thats .476 obp! Give him a shot! I also thought Alex Blandino and Brandon Dixon looked pretty good in spring training. Dixon has a ton of power and could hurt lefties. Blandino can draw a walk and has pop….2 things Peraza can’t do.

      Reply
  7. Checked the weather forecast and it doesn’t look good; rain till around 10-11. Hope it’s wrong. But if this game is called, does Reed miss his start? Back to the top with Homer?

    Reply
    • That’s the question we would all like to know the answer to.

      Reply
    • Another line of showers popped up between the two main lines. I am starting to feel pessimistic about playing tonight.

      The best hope is that the new line robs energy from the final line.

      Reply
  8. I really hope they get this game in. This seems like a good time to be catching the Cubs. (Overall, I don’t think they have the pitching or defense to be a great team. And they’re pressing and tired right now, so this is a good game to get in the books.)

    Reply
  9. Former Reds Didi Gregorious just hit his 2nd 3 run HR of the game. He has 7 XBH already this year

    Reply
    • I’m sure I’m like everyone else here that cringes knowing Gregorious could be our ss right now.

      Reply
      • That is the risk in trading prospects for immediate improvements. Choo was great and helped the team get to the playoffs. Unfortunately it wasnt enough to win a ring. Didi at SS would have improved the team today, but wouldn’t have done much in 2012

        Reply
  10. Do the cubs have an off day tomorrow?

    Reply
  11. Game postponed. Make up date TBD

    Reply
  12. ppd to May 19

    Reply
  13. Split DH on May 19

    Reply
  14. Am I reading the schedule correctly; it looks like we have off days on Thursday and Monday before/after this expanded May series?

    I think it’s a lucky break for the Cubs that they get to go home without playing us today/tomorrow.

    Reply
  15. I am disappointed by the rainout – the Cubs don’t seem at the top of their game, Lester doesn’t scare anyone, and I really wanted to see what Cody Reed might do. I hope he doesn’t get skipped entirely. If so he’s more bummed about the washout than anyone else in Reds nation.

    Reply
  16. What? no baseball tonight, no baseball tomorrow, no baseball until Thursday night? Maybe Marty will do a special edition of Hot Stove League tomorrow night.

    Reply

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