Well, there’s nowhere to go but up from here, right? Right? Hello?
Last night’s unmitigated disaster was easily the most maddening Reds (1-5) loss of an already frustrating season. The 14-3 beatdown at the hands of the Pirates (6-1) featured horrific bullpen management, TOOTBLANs, an utter lack timely hitting, poor defense — should I go on? In short, the Reds are reeling just six games into the season. Things will get better, but aside from Opening Day and Monday’s win, this team has been rather uninspiring so far.
They’ll try to turn it around tonight at 7:05 p.m. ET for game three of the series against the Pirates.
Although he gave up a two-run home run to the second batter he faced, Sal Romano was solid in his first start of the year on Sunday. The 24-year-old did a nice job of settling down and got through six innings of three-run, four-hit baseball, though he did walk four and struck out only two. Romano’s calling card has always been his ability to force ground balls, and that was on full display against the Nationals with 12 ground outs against just two fly outs. His fastball sat in the mid-90s and he relied on it heavily, throwing it 72 percent of the time. Keep an eye on his off-speed pitches tonight. He only threw six changeups in his 2018 debut and got just one whiff on his slider, which was his primary putaway pitch last year (18.6 SwStr%).
Romano vs. Pirates
Chad Kuhl was a ninth-round draft pick of the Pirates back in 2013. Being a college pitcher, he was moved through the system fairly aggressively. Kuhl started in Low-A ball and moved up a level every year before reaching the majors in 2016. The right-hander became a full-time member of the rotation last year, posting a 4.35 ERA and 4.61 xFIP in 157 1/3 innings and 31 starts.
Despite boasting a sinker that consistently sits at 95 mph and has reached 99, Kuhl doesn’t get many strikeouts or ground balls. His strikeout rate of 20.9 percent in 2017 was his highest at any level, and although he had above-average ground-ball rates in the minor leagues, that hasn’t translated to the majors (42.5 percent). The slider is Kuhl’s primary putaway pitch, generating an elite 20.6 SwStr% in 2017.
Kuhl vs. Reds
|RF Jesse Winker (133 wRC+)||2B Josh Harrison (153 wRC+)|
|3B Eugenio Suarez (117 wRC+)||RF Adam Frazier (106 wRC+)|
|1B Joey Votto (41 wRC+)||CF Starling Marte (141 wRC+)|
|2B Scooter Gennett (107 wRC+)||1B Josh Bell (156 wRC+)|
|LF Adam Duvall (70 wRC+)||LF Corey Dickerson (133 wRC+)|
|CF Phillip Ervin (94 wRC+)||C Elias Diaz (122 wRC+)|
|C Tucker Barnhart (149 wRC)||3B Colin Moran (142 wRC+)|
|SS Jose Peraza (-25 wRC+)||SS Jordy Mercer (123 wRC+)|
|P Sal Romano (5.57 xFIP)||P Chad Kuhl (3.42 xFIP)|
- Billy Hamilton is out of the lineup tonight. Phillip Ervin is getting his first start of the season in center field.
- Scott Schebler is out of the lineup for a fifth straight game with an elbow injury. It’s yet another instance of the Reds playing shorthanded and leaving an injured player on the roster instead of placing them on the disabled list. Hard to figure out now that the minimum stay on the DL is just 10 days.
- Gregory Polanco was a late scratch for the Pirates with discomfort in his right foot.
News, Notes, & Pre-Game Reading
I’m sure most of you have read it already, but in case you missed it, Chad had some good thoughts on the current state of the team and Bryan Price:
— Redleg Nation (@redlegnation) April 7, 2018
More thoughts on Yovani Gallardo, his strange usage, and his inexplicable inclusion on the roster:
The #Reds' signing of veteran pitcher Yovani Gallardo has left many scratching their heads. @MoEgger1530 is discouraged by the addition and says it smacks of bad moves made the past few seasons. https://t.co/APTvCrLyAB
— The Athletic (@TheAthleticCIN) April 7, 2018
Without trying, I can think of at least 4 pitchers on the Bats roster I’d rather have on the Reds than Yovani Gallardo.
— Jason Linden (@JasonLinden) April 7, 2018
Yovani Gallardo is currently tied for the second highest career ERA (54.00) in #Reds history. He has got a steep hill to climb to catch the legend, Trevor Bell (67.50). Gallardo is currently ahead of Paul Janish (49.50). pic.twitter.com/SFQNOuj6tS
— ɴɪᴄᴋ ᴋɪʀʙy (@Nicholaspkirby) April 7, 2018
A Schebler update:
Scott Schebler said he still can't feel his right pinkie… also some numbness in the tip of his ring finger
— C. Trent Rosecrans (@ctrent) April 7, 2018
It's possible, but after they switched to a 10-day DL, you can only backdate 3 days https://t.co/35rEhWIHKn
— C. Trent Rosecrans (@ctrent) April 7, 2018
Stat of the Day
The Reds are the only team in baseball that hasn’t scored a run in the first inning this season.
Nothing will wash away the taste of yesterday’s debacle like a win. Let’s hope the Reds return to their winning ways against the Pirates tonight.
Growing up just north of Cincinnati, Matt has been a Reds fan for as long as he can remember. As a kid, he was often found leading the Reds to 162-0 seasons in MVP Baseball 2005 and imitating his favorite players (Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn, Sean Casey, and Austin Kearns) in the backyard. One of his earliest baseball memories is attending the final night game at Cinergy Field. Matt is also a graduate of The Ohio State University and currently lives in the Dayton area. Follow him on Twitter at @_MattWilkes.