The Reds open the road portion of the 2018 season tonight  in Pittsburgh against Pirates at 7:05 kicking off what is scheduled to be a four game weekend series. During the off season, the Pirates continued to disassemble their core group which  crested with 3 consecutive wild card appearances in 2013-15 but  recorded  sub .500 seasons in 2016-17.  The most notable departures this past off season were former NL MVP outfielder Lawrence McCutcheon and starting pitcher Gerrit Cole. Nonetheless, the Pirates are off to a 4-1 start and  lead the NL Central a week into the season which is more than can be said for the Reds.

Starting Pitchers

Homer Bailey makes his second start of the season. Hopes are high that Bailey will demonstrate his outstanding start on opening day was not a fluke and that he will prove capable of consistently posting many similar results as the season unfolds. As has been said many times before of Bailey, it all comes down to his health.

In his prior start, Bailey threw 104 pitches to create the 18 outs required to complete 6 innings of 1 run baseball. This works out to 5.8 pitches an out.  Through his first 5 innings, he had created 15 outs on just 73 pitches, right at a full pitch less per out than his final game aggregate.  That 1 pitch per out difference is also the difference between a 6 and at least 7 inning outing. Keep an eye on his pitch per out rate tonight as a way of measuring whether Bailey is progressing.

Steven Brault, a not quite 26 year old left hander, gets the starting call tonight for the Pirates. Brault  was a 2013 11th round draft pick of the Orioles who came the Pirates in 2015 as the player to be named later in the trade which sent Travis Snider to the Orioles.  In 2016 and 2017, Brault split time between AAA and MLB making a combined 19 MLB appearances of which 11 were starts. Brault made the 2018 Pirates as a bullpen guy and worked 3 innings during the Pirates season opener last week. Due to a weather induced doubleheader on Sunday, the Pirates found themselves needing an additional arm to start  tonight’s game, thus the call went out to Brault.

The numbers (2017 MLB)

PITCHER xFIP HR/9 BB% K%
Homer Bailey 4.98 1.09 10.0 16.0
Steven Brault 5.58 0.78 8.6 14.2

Bullpens

Consecutive off days behind them, the Reds appear to have no bullpen issues. However with 14 games in 14 days before their next day off, Bryan Price needs to be mindful of how he uses his pen. Anyone want to take a guess on the over/ under of how many times we will see the Louisville to Cincinnati bullpen shuttle in these next 14 days?

Even though tonight will be the Pirates fifth game in as many days due to a Sunday doubleheader, they  did have an off day on Tuesday.  Tyler Glasnow worked  3 innings of relief last night and figures to be unavailable tonight.  As noted above, their starter tonight, Steven Brault, also normally works out of the pen.  Thus the Pirates could be in a crunch if Brault struggles early. Unlike the Reds, the Pirates have an off day early next week and otherwise appear to be in good shape.

Lineups

             REDS

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

         PIRATES

1. Josh Harrison (2B)
2. Gregory Polanco (RF)
3. Starling Marte (CF)
4. Josh Bell (1B)
5. Corey Dickerson (LF)
6. David Freese (3B)
7. Francisco Cervelli (C)
8. Jordy Mercer (SS)
9. Steven Brault (P) 

BIlly Hamilton again as the lead off man versus a LH pitcher. Why not a look at Phil Ervin? Also, once again Devin Mesoraco sits when the Reds are facing a LH pitcher. I’m almost starting to wonder if Mesoraco could have some sort of health issue. Then there is  (not) Scott Schebler. Is his elbow still aching or  is he sitting because of a leftie on the mound versus the Reds?

News and Notes

Brandon Finnegan and Cody Reed both threw a “simulated game” yesterday against batters from the Reds AAA affiliate Louisville Bats.  Redleg Nation’s Jason Linden was there and filed the following reports via Twitter:

And for those of us hoping to see a certain MLB debut as soon as service time considerations make it prudent, here is this from Jason:

Final Thoughts

Many folks think that the Pirates ongoing cycling from contention to rebuild mode offers the Reds their best chance in several years of escaping from the NL Central cellar.  Weather permitting the two teams will have at each other four times in the upcoming days. We might have a better idea by Sunday evening of how the two teams stack up versus each other this season. However bear in mind that the Reds went 13-6 last season versus the Pirates; yet overall, the Pirates finished 7 games better than the Reds which would infer that against the rest of MLB, the Pirates were 14 games better than the Reds. That’s baseball and why they play the games. Go Reds.


Stats and data from FangraphsBaseball Reference, and MLB.com

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Join the conversation! 70 Comments

  1. Per C. Trent, Brandon Finnegan’s simulated game went well, Price said. He will start for Louisville on Monday, Cody Reed will start for the Reds.

    • I bet Finnegan is less than pleased by this turn of events because he told Jason Linden (above) “There shouldn’t be a rehab start, but that’s not up to me.”

      • I bet you’re right, but I’d rather Finnegan prove he’s healthy and ready with minimum one rehab start. It’s a good decision by the Reds.

        • I agree with you but also believe this team would be well served if players had a little more of the edginess inferred in Finnegan’s comment

  2. season 4 and Price still hasn’t figured out how to platoon.

  3. How many other folks tonight are going to have one eye on the Reds game and the other on the BlueJackets?
    Following the 5 team race for 4 spots In the NHL East has reminded what fun (and heartache) a “pennant” race can be as a fan.
    It would be so great if the Reds could become relevant once again in such a race.

  4. Lawrence McCutcheon was a much better athlete than I remember! 🙂

  5. I wonder how that inning would have gone if Hamilton had taken the walk.

    • I can’t think of any logical reason he should be batting first, but especially against left-handers. He’s a career .235/.266/.334 with a 59 wRC+ versus lefties.

    • How’s he supposed to become a better leadoff hitter if he doesn’t swing at most pitches?

  6. If Homer had 94 MPh available, that 1-2 pitch to Freese would have been perfect and Freese would have struck out instead of singled. He’s locating really well.

    • Homer’s velocity is definitely down tonight. Averaging just 91 on his fastball through three innings.

  7. Bailey’s command looks really good. He’s hitting great spots on the edges.

  8. Hate to be a negative Nancy but I hate our lineup vs lefties. 0-1 this year and horrible last year vs lefties and yet they always roll out Billy, Jose, Tucker, and Scooter vs lefties? Joey’s cold too. One thing that was a little promising about spring training was that Mesoraco looked like he was swinging it pretty well but he can’t even play vs lefties? Homer better be spotless from here because its very likely they don’t get more then 2 tonite.

  9. They are definitely gonna have to get another RH. Bat. Whether that be Senzel, or whoever.

    • If they tried this lineup vs righties….they’d see better results

      CF – Ervin (or 2B – Blandino)
      3B – Suarez
      1B – Votto
      LF – Duvall
      C- Mesoraco
      2B – Brandon Dixon
      RF – WInker/Schebler
      P
      SS – Peraza

  10. Well, I think Price is showing tonight that Barnhart is #1 C. Regardless of who’s pitching. Doesn’t appear that Mesoraco will automatically start vs lefty’s.

    • Tucker has a .541 lifetime ops vs lefties. That is horrific! That is beyond Billy/Jose bad!
      Meso has a .790 ops lifetime vs lefties

      If Meso can play then he needs to play vs all lefties. If he can’t play then eat the cash and put someone on the roster that can play. PERIOD. Tired of this stupidity with the Reds

  11. Hamilton is KILLING us and I am disgusted. WTF is going on here? Are we a professional team or idiots? The man is the worst hitter in baseball PERIOD. Get rid of him today. Write the Reds now and tell them you will never attend another game as long as they are going to put the worst hitter in baseball leadoff and pretend they care about winning.

  12. I don’t know what to say about the fact that they continue to bat Billy lead off, except, that you know what the definition of insanity is, don’t you?

  13. I will bet anyone here ten bucks that Billy gets picked off the next time he gets on base. Or at most one of the next 3 times he gets on base (but that may take a week or more). Why? Because Billy is dumb. Price is dumb. Bob is dumb. This organization is dumb. I hate this team. This isn’t fun. Freel was a thousand times better than Billy and he couldn’t even crack the starting lineup most of his career. JESUS I am losing it.

  14. I thought Homer was losing it in the 4th, did anyone else think so.

    • that’s when I lost it as well. It’s got to be frustrating getting no offensive support.

  15. $33 mil tied up in a catcher that can’t play more then once/week and a pitcher that tops out at 91. The first ball Polanco hit was gone if it wasn’t 40 degrees. Game over….the only way this team doesn’t lose 90 is if they lose 100

  16. Votto isn’t clicking either but they are pitching around him. He is going to have to take his walks and wait for some protection. Not sure why Duvall is behind him. He needs Suarez behind him when it’s not Gennett vs a righty.

  17. Peraza IS NOT a professional SS.

  18. I apologize for my earlier outburst. It’s just so frustrating. Price surprised us all batting Winker leadoff opening day. I guess we will never see that experiment again. It’s back to the same old same old. If the team is gonna tank at least think outside the box is that too much to ask for?

    • No reason to apologize. The Reds organization is an embarrassment at this point. No direction, no clue what a winning baseball team looks like.

  19. The only positive I see is that Scooter is hitting lefties so far in this young season. He looks like an everyday player. Senzel needs to be moved to SS in Louisville and brought up as soon as his service time allows it.

    • Scooter is hitting the best he’s ever hit in his career but he still has a career .565 ops vs lefties. Tucker is at .541. Billy/Jose are expert right-turnsmen…..we already know that. All that equals a bunch of losses vs lefties. Dick Williams didn’t even make an effort to fix that. Didn’t make an effort to improve the pen either?

      • Actually Billy usually Ks so no need to make a right turn at 1st base

  20. Reds let that Pirates SP off easy.

  21. When you look at this current 25 man roster, it’s hard to even see a .500 team. The pen is awful, also.

  22. If my cell phone hadn’t been stolen a couple weeks ago I would be lighting up the Reds voice mail on every number I can find just ranting about this product. It’s so amateurish it’s beyond the pale. I don’t know how a professional organization can be so badly managed. The only thing they are good at is bobblehead giveaways and concerts. Actual baseball is a lost cause. Joey’s career has been wasted and it’s a real shame but at least he gets paid very well and treated well except by visiting fans who have the nerve to talk smack to him.

  23. The pirates traded away Cole and McCutcheon and look a thousand times better than we do, how is that possible?

    • The Reds have decided to run the same team out there that loses 90 games each season. Minus a 5 win SS. The Reds organization has made little effort to improve the roster and overvalues the average to below average on the roster.

    • IF they win 3 of 4 then we’re 4.5 games out on April 8th. I doubt they sweep but that would be 6.5 games out on April 8th

  24. Quackenbush throwing stuff in the middle of the zone. Another horrible signing. I hope he gets rocked the game is over anyhow, mine as well put an exclamation mark on it. The best thing that happens now is the Reds tank so bad that Price gets run out of town and Bob gets shamed into selling the team to someone with common sense and deeper pockets. But its not just a money thing, this team is making very bad decisions and he supports those decisions and perhaps even dictates some of it himself. Afterall he loves Billy ball.

  25. The bullpen hardly matters right now. We have no offense. We get behind by 2 and it’s almost hopeless. Votto is scuffling badly, so is Duvall. Scheb is out. Suarez is meh right now. Same with Winker. What are you going to do? Throw a shutout every game?

    • True, but they scored 5 on Sunday and Price screwed that one up as well. No one in baseball wants Gallardo so lets get him his first appearance in a close game. Did he even pitch in spring training? They are ridiculous at almost every level

    • Well the leadoff man sets the tone. At least Winker draws a walk now and then. But yes they are all struggling. Duvall is not adequate protection for Votto everyone knows he is going to swing at junk and you’d rather take your chances with him than Joey.

  26. The Reds have done ZERO damage to starting pitchers this young season. Everthing comes when they are behind and get to face the weakest middle relievers. That is as bad a sign as any that it will be a long ugly season. And they will put up some numbers vs the mid relief to hide the ugliness of just how bad this offense is. But it’s bad. They got dominated today by a reliever making a spot start on a team projected to be in last place.

    • No…everything and I mean everything I read had the Reds finishing last

      • The money (Vegas) had Reds 73.5-75 finishing ahead of Pittsburgh 71.5-73.5 especially after Pitt traded away McCutchen & Cole.

  27. Price just double switched Winker out of the lineup for Ervin. Of course a RHP is now on the mound for the Pirates.

  28. A rotation of Castillo, Mahle, Garrett, Romano, and whoever’s healthy between Disco, Finnegan, or Lorenzen would atleast give them a shot in the future. They’d have to actually build a decent pen and find a good CFer! Spend some $$ and dip into the farm system like everyone else does in the division when they need something!

    Peraza gets himself out again…on 1 pitch of course! The anti-thinking mans ballplayer.

  29. Hamilton has a career 297 OBP and a 630 OPS, obvious lead off hitter

  30. We can’t say we haven’t had base runners tonight. Outside of Votto, there’s no one in this lineup that scares anybody.

  31. This is a bad offense.
    Peraza isnt replacement level right now. Hamilton is struggling and still hitting lead off. Votto isn’t votto. The bullpen has several pitchers who aren’t major Leaguers. Big road trip early on. Need to win tomorrow.

  32. Another great AB from the Reds lead off hitter

  33. The ump rings him up on outside pitches just barely touching the corner. Poor Billy I can’t blame him for taking that pitch.

  34. Ervin with a smash….thats harder then anything Jose/Billy have hit all year long. He should be playing CF vs lefties…atleast with Schebler out. They really needed a true thumper like Ozuna. Thats the guy I wanted! Dickerson with another extra basehit….Bucs picked him up late and he’s better then anyone we have in the OF.

  35. Cervelli looks like he complains about every called strike. Assh*le.

  36. Ervin bailing out Garrett with a nice catch! I don’t know that guys like Ervin or Blandino can play in the big leagues but they have atleast shown that they have some power and they can draw a few walks. If you’re swinging at everything or you’re so weak that the OF can come in and the pitcher can just overpower you like Billy/Jose then there is no hope? Why in the world can’t DW just look at OBP and analytics and figure that out like every other GM?

  37. What’s so irksome about this team is that almost nobody in the organization seems to care about winning nearly as much we do. Nobody seems to feel any sense of urgency whatsoever. Billy obviously can’t get on base regularly, but let’s just keep having him lead off because he’s fast and maybe eventually he’ll figure it out. Peraza wasn’t great to begin with and seems to be regressing, but that’s okay because maybe someday he’ll turn it around somehow. Guys keep swinging at the first pitch when they ought to be making the pitcher work, but let’s not ruffle any feathers by giving any take signs. Washed up pitcher is available because nobody else wants him? By all means let’s give him a spot on the roster so the more talented guys can continue working in AAA. Oh, we lost again? Couldn’t get three consecutive guys on base against a mediocre starting pitcher who isn’t even a starter? Well, let’s just come back tomorrow with exactly the same approach and hope things work out. Manager keeps getting the same lousy results year after year? Let’s give him a contract extension because he really seems to be trying his darndest.

    Votto’s spring training comments notwithstanding, this team has a losing attitude — plain and simple. They expect to lose. It doesn’t seem to bother them very much. Losing is perfectly acceptable as long as everyone shows up on time and does whatever they think they ought to being doing. Because maybe someday it’ll all work out. Somehow. Probably. Right? Yeah, pretty sure it will. Just gotta be patient. Most importantly, do NOT do anything drastic that might give anyone a sense that we’re unhappy with anything. Everything is fine. Or at least it will be fine sooner or later. Somehow.

    • Winning is habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

      Vince Lombardi

    • Yes exactly and no movement during the long off season. Anything to make it more interesting would have been appreciated. Other teams were doing a flurry of moves. When you lose 90+games 3 season in a row and stand pat and then come out of the gate slow and do the same stuff as in past years… that is BAD BORING ANTI-FUN BASEBALL. WHo is responsible? Bob, the GM, the manager? I don’t care but for god’s sake make changes so we can be at least entertained by the player movement if nothing else. The scouts obviously stink too. Who are they? I want to see what they said about Gallardo and Quackenbush and the rest of these shmucks.

  38. Ervin came up last Aug/Sept and played well. Glad he at least has a chance to be up here. And you’re right, solid smash that should have been a hit, then a very good defensive play. BH has had plenty of time to show what he can do. Time for him to be a late inning replacement, stealing a base and defensive. Long overdue.

  39. I play alot of fantasy baseball and I guy I try to get every year is Wil Myers from the Pads. He’s 27.5 so not too old and 28 hrs/28 steals in 2016. 30 hrs/20 steals last year and drew 138 walks in the last 2 seasons. Also 3 HRs in 29 atbats in GABP in the last 3 years.

    The Pads absolutely suck and might even be worse then the Reds this year? They might deal him for Romano and a couple of prospects from the minors? He’s a good athlete…could probably play a decent CF! They need to do something? Make something happen?

    • The Pads need offense though. They have pitching and play in a pitcher’s park. I don’t see them trading Myers they got hi from Tampa Bay for a reason. I like him too, but the time to get him was when TB traded him. The Reds rarely chase young offense, they rely on their own system but the system is lacking at least until we see what Senzel can bring.

      • He’ll be getting paid in another year or 2 though? Pads are cheap….even more so then the Reds. I bet they end up dealing him somewhere within a year or 2.

        • Well I would surely grab him if I could. Imagine if they got him a few yrs ago the numbers he could have produced at GABP. Would love to see our Reds make any kind of proactive move for offense. We are back to the days of *TOS with this current unit. Senzel can;t get here soon enough. This team over values speed when all they should be worrying about it hitting and slugging. This is a cracker jack box. Station to station baseball is all we need and maybe one pinch runner for a close game late.

          • Its not rocket science. Find guys with power that can draw walks. Pitchers that throw groundballs. Hughes is #1 in groundball % I think? A little speed is not bad but use it more for 1st to 3rd and scoring from 1st on doubles, etc. You and I could manage their assets better….not kidding at all. Dick Williams and company are a bunch of #&$*’n idiots

  40. Pretty miserable.

  41. Chris Welch again promoting patiences. Also said Price has tried several different lineups. Is he nuts?

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2018 Reds